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Mental Strength & Toughness

January 04, 2015

mental strength and toughness

Mentality: The Trained and Untrained

What causes an athlete to zone out? To stare at something with an unwavering gaze but still see nothing? To look into the crowd and pick out one person and focus completely on them? What causes sound to cease, breathing to slow, high heart rate to become the norm, and utter pain to be welcomed? Mentality. The ability to force oneself to do something that cannot be done on a day to day is one thing. However, to have a mind that is solid is to have a permanent foundation as an athlete; the characteristic attitude of mind or way of thinking of a person.

Your mentality is your biggest weapon but also your greatest enemy. Your mentality is your biggest support whilst quickly converting itself to becoming your worst opponent. What causes someone to do 100 rounds of anything at 5am on no food? The same thing that causes someone to approach a near impossible circumstance with reckless abandonment. Mentality.

You want to make it to the games, lose weight, or whatever it is and you want an honest opinion of what that will take. Dedication and mental toughness must be weapons in your arsenal. The mind must be unshakeable as it will reflect who you are not only as an athlete but as a person. Once you begin your journey, it will grow increasingly difficult with each passing day. In the case of the gold standard of CrossFit, best put by James Hobart, you have to be willing to make sacrifices in order to be the champion.

The winner of the European regional, a 19 year old kid who gave up everything  to train with Mikko (2009 Games champion) for a damn CHANCE to be great. Not to become great, but for a chance to be great. Words are words and anyone can lie about what they clean or do Fran in. However, when you step on that floor to prove who you are, you better be mentally strong because if not, you will be eaten and forgotten. Sure, claim steroids or PEDs or anything you want but you cannot enhance your mentality through pills and needles. That kid wanted to show all onlookers that he is worthy of greatness, and did it. Sharpen and train your mind more than your body and you will not fail.

As a coach I see many different kinds of people; mothers, athletes, competitors, to my own grandmother all of which I grow close to over time. However, of the people that stand out the most was my youngest brother, a victim of a rare heart disease since birth. At the age of 20 years old, he underwent open-heart surgery and died on the table three times. Three times his life was taken from him and three times he took it back. That kid is the strongest person I know and demands respect from anyone who interacts with him. The day of my first competition he told me he could not be there due to work. The final day of my competition he sent me a message that took me from 7th to 2nd overall; “If I can survive open-heart surgery, then you can win this. Don’t win this for you, do it for me.” The rest is history.

The mind is the strongest thing in our body but also the easiest to influence. The mind should be compared to water in the sense, that it has the power to destroy anything in its path while at the same time being contained in something as complex as an exotic vase to the smallest of glass cups. This should be interpreted and compared to how our training should be. Sure everyone yells before they attempt a PR, but rarely do you see the people who are calm and approach the same bar with confidence and walk away victorious. That competitor should be feared, because their mind is stronger than their body. 

Think to yourself, what is adversity? Half a million strong, each year increasing ten fold, made the statement, “I am the fittest on earth.” 1 man, 1 women, 1 team took that title home. One. These individuals sacrificed things that you cannot begin to grasp in order to achieve this title. If you think you can achieve this, check your mentality. Then you can begin the process of failing and repeat it several times before you can begin to succeed.

Guest post by our very own athlete, Logan Jenkins speaking about his experience with success and how directly it correlates to the mentality of an athlete.    Logan's media: Instagram: @ljenkinscf    Twitter: @loganjenkins69   Facebook: Logan Jenkins