What is mental toughness? This concept is bandied about in the sports world, often used recklessly. Is it mentally tough to forge through a race injured, bleeding or puking? Or, is it mentally tough to train while sick or when the weather is shitty? Perhaps this is merely bad decision making, something I have fallen prey to in the name of “mental toughness”. I think that the construct of mental toughness is overused philosophically and underused in practice. Mostly, this is because mental toughness is generally misinterpreted rendering true mental toughness hard to find.
Mental toughness is the ability to toe the line at a race, and no matter which athletes show up, not letting them affect you or ruin your game plan.
Mental toughness is racing to your potential whether you are 1st or 31st or last.
Mental toughness is looking at your workouts for the week with a small amount of fear and a large amount of excitement at the challenge set forth.
Mental toughness is putting aside the chaos of life for a designated amount of time each day to properly execute your training.
Mental toughness is doing the little things that make a big difference.
Mental toughness is finding that last ounce of energy to keep going until the finish line when your body wants to quit.
Mental toughness is going back for more even if you’ve been disappointed or embarrassed.
Mental toughness is taking adversity and turning it into an advantage.
Mental toughness is not being a lemming and just doing whatever everyone else is doing.
Mental toughness is having self-confidence and not self-doubt.
Mental toughness is savoring the small victories and knowing they will lead to larger ones down the road.
Mental toughness is having trust in yourself, your coach, and your advisers to lead you down the right path.
Mental toughness is learning how to focus.
Mental toughness is not giving up because it is too hard.
Mental toughness is not any one thing. It is an amalgamation of so many different things, and that is why it is hard to truly define it and achieve it. But, mastering at least some of these aspects of mental toughness will undoubtedly make you a better athlete.