It's hard to say, really, what mental toughness is worth. We can't truly measure it, gauge its percentage or place a metric on it. But we know it is important. In that regard it's like trying to define quality. Sketchy at best. So today, after an interesting experience with both these nebulous isolates yesterday the time might be right to toss the double whammy. As in the Quality of Mental Toughness. Because you can be tough, and then you can be TOUGH. The difference is in the quality.
Additionally, we can improve upon whatever level of QMT we currently possess. Regardless if we are sprinters or marathoners, blessed with fast or slow twitch muscle fibers, or prefer anaerobic to aerobic events, at one point or another in every training session, race or event we will arrive at the defining moment. That pressure zone where we face an important decision. Go or no go? Sustain or diminish. Hold or slip. We have all been there. We have all faced this decision. We have all done the best we can. Or have we?
I think the best is yet to come. I am not talking about personal bests, records, times, victories, rewards. I am talking about going further than you did before. Perhaps ever. Holding a speed ten seconds longer, staying with a power number for five additional seconds, keeping in the moment just a little longer. Some call it the extra mile, and it is predicated upon you being able to up the quality of your mental toughness. This is not a beginners drill. This is advanced work. You have spent hundreds of hours honing your physical skills, developing muscle, adding speed, advancing your power to weight ratio, chasing a higher FTP. The next step takes you upstairs. To the attic of your race.
Ever hear about the percentage? That the mental part is 70, 80 or even 90% of the game. If it is that high, how come we don't practice it more? If it is that important, we don't we have a set of drills designed exactly to enhance it? Well we do, sort of.
Anything that challenges you to go a little longer, stay a little longer out of your comport zone, test your ability to sustain, to endure, is that.
It is also helpful to add the cognitive and supportive as motivators:
1) Quit the negative thinking. Quit looking for excuses to justify anything but your absolute best. Stop giving yourself permission to quit. Really, stop it. How? Next time you hear yourself trying to persuade you that you would be better off sipping a diet soda on some sunny beach somewhere, say this: (if you are a polite and demure person), not now, thank you, I have another two minutes on this hill climb. Or this: (if you are motivated by the banal, naked harshness of the real world), shut the fuck up you sissy and get your weak ass up the hill. With some practice you can be eloquent and successful without the vulgarities, but for now, if that helps, so be it, the world isn't all strawberries and rainbows, buttercup.
2) Visualize your success. See you as the you you want to become. We ARE doing this for a reason, are we not? What is yours? You want faster, fitter, stronger, longer or lighter? See you as that when the going gets tough. You have to go through this to get to that. This is the quality. This is the test. Practice this to get that.
Those two alone can make a huge difference in your QMT. A percentage of increase that adds to your growing acumen and motivation.
Try them and see for yourself.