Maximizing your physical ability is a progress. Everyone starts at the same foundation and builds their physical condition up from there. You may see some people enter the gym with loads of muscle on them or others with incredible endurance blowing past the pack in a run, but none of them got there overnight. This is why mentality matters more than ability. Mentality is what will get you hitting your goals faster than expected and your mentality will determine how well you perform in a WOD.
I think there are two big things that mentality brings to your progress that will make you better as an athlete.
It will push you further in your workout.
It will keep you on track and accountable for your goals.
When we are talking about mental fortitude, we are talking about your state of mind while pushing your body physically while performing. Your actual physical limit is much more intense than you think. Our bodies can do incredible things, stretching our capabilities much further than we could ever expect, and it all comes back to mental fortitude.
While your body is saying “I’m tired. Put this barbell down.” Your mind can override that instinct. We can train our mind to take the “I’m tired” condition it is feeling, and turn it into the response of “Now it’s time to go into overdrive.” Pushing yourself in your time of need will save you seconds in your WOD, and those seconds add up in physical progression.
The second part about being mindful of our mentality is that it will keep us on track with our goals. Sure, doing things like writing down our goals absolutely help, but it helps because we are mentally reminding ourselves of the reward at the end of the tunnel. Your mental state throughout the day is what dictates the majority of your actions. Most of our actions are unconscious and woven by habit. It takes a lot of willpower to override them. Therefore, to see the results you want, whether it’s hitting a certain body goal or hitting a certain performance goal, it requires you to make changes with your daily decisions.
Sure, setting an alarm reminding you to go to the gym may help for a few days, or having an “accountability buddy” by your side to make sure you don’t bail on waking up early for that 6 AM class will get you in for a while too. But how long will that last when you are relying on methods other than you? It’s your body, you may as well be the one responsible for its wellbeing! So rather than dreading the gym all day, change your mind about it. From now on you are a person who takes responsibility for their own wellbeing. You enjoy a challenge and confront your demons head on.
This is what mental fortitude is all about. And this is why it matters so much more than actual ability.