for.ti.tude noun: courage in pain or adversity
synonyms: courage, bravery, endurance, resilience, mettle, moral fiber, strength of mind, strength of character, strong-mindedness, backbone, spirit, grit.
We all know that CrossFit challenges us physically. We feel it during the wod when our muscles begin to burn and our lungs start to ache. We feel it after the wod when we want to lay down on the ground and roll around, writhing in our most uncomfortable state. We feel it the next day when our muscles are sore or tender to the touch.
But there is something that is just as important, if not more. The mental aspect.
The quote is true. If you don't see yourself as a winner, then you cannot perform as a winner. If you approach your workout thinking you will underperform, or your lift thinking about how heavy and difficult it is going to be, then you are setting yourself up for failure.
Here are some tips on how to train yourself for mental toughness:
- Be a Self-Starter - The root of mental toughness lies in motivation. Athletes who are deemed mentally tough typically exhibit what sports psychologists call "intrinsic motivation" or the desire to be self-determining. These people are willing to push themselves to the brink for the love of their sport or activity. They need little motivation to give their best effort and do well setting goals for themselves.
- Find Your "Zone" - World class endurance athletes respond to the stress of a race with a reduction in brain-wave activity similar to meditation. This is a prime example of how getting in the "zone" - the cool headed state that allows a person to perform optimally even under high-pressure conditions - can make all the difference in your performance. Getting there, and holding on to it despite distractions, pain, and your own instincts to give in for the sake of self-preservation is the essence of mental toughness.
- Be Positive - We have a continual self-dialogue. These thoughts are usually a combination of outside stimuli and your own beliefs about yourself. Some are positive, and some are negative. To be successful, you must focus on the ones that make you feel better about yourself. An easy way to do this is to create a mantra of some sort. Something that pumps you up and keeps you motivated... your reason why. If you have a powerful enough reason why, you can push yourself through anything.
- Talk to Yourself - This not only stimulates extra motivation for yourself, but also allows you to control what kind of encouragement you are hearing. It may be difficult to talk positive to yourself in the beginning, but keep practicing... it will get easier!!
- Visualize - Before you ever pick up the barbell for a lift, your set should be mentally done. Imagine the steps that you will take to get in to position and the way your body will look executing the movement. Think of it as a mental dress rehearsal. Because it has already been done in your mind, all you have to do is repeat it with your body.
- Meditate - Meditation is amazing for stress reduction, enhanced mental clarity and simply relaxing. Focus on clearing your mind and mentally preparing yourself for the upcoming event.
- Get Uncomfortable - You cannot settle in to a routine and expect to get better. You should be pushing yourself in to that uncomfortable place a few times a month. Applying a challenging stimulus will give you a greater ability to handle stress of all kinds. It teaches you problem-solving skills and critical thinking, both of which can help you tough out situations.
- Be Prepared - Competition is not the time to try out a new lifting technique or decide you are going to attempt butterfly pull-ups that you can usually only get two of. If you have prepared yourself for everything, you will be ready for anything. Knowing that you have done everything possible to prepare will help you mentally.