Imagine being only 1/4 of the way through on your first 100 mile ultra-marathon and you start to notice blisters forming on your feet.
The skin is starting to chafe, burn and rub away, every step starts to become more painful.
What do you do for the next 20+ hours and 75 miles?
It's going to get a lot worse, but will you quit and save it for another day?
Or will you tap into your mindset and mental toughness reserves to make it through?
I had the opportunity to interview ultra-runner Mark Robbins about his mindset and how he gets through events that can:
- Last 30 hours or more, through the night with no sleep.
- Elevation gains and losses that are equal to climbing/descending Mount Everest.
- Can be in brutal weather with rain, mud and slippery terrain.
We talk about mental toughness, perseverance, grit and more; and he gives 5 tips that he uses in the hardest conditions but can be applied in business, sales, in your personal life or in sports when things get REALLY tough.
REMEMBER YOUR WHY and make yourself want that more than any obstacle that can come in your way. Focus on why you are doing this and the person that you will become by going through this journey.
Remember that when things get tough, your mind wants to give you the easiest path out because it wants to keep you safe and well within your comfort zone. This is when the excuses start to come back, but push those back by
BE COACHABLE. By opening yourself up to feedback from others, people who have been on the journey before you, listen to them and use their failures and successes to guide you through. Remember to have a beginners mindset and don’t be ‘too cool for school’ and non-responsive to feedback.
FOCUS ON GRATITUDE. The ‘failure cycle’ starts with stress. Stress leads to doubt. Doubt leads to fear. Fear leads to despair. Despair leads to failure. Make sure to catch yourself and always know where you are in the cycle. The easiest way to break the failure cycle is by focusing on gratitude.
THERE IS A SOLUTION TO EVERY PROBLEM. Mark talks about ultra-marathons as being a continual evaluation of problems and how to get past them. When you approach situations as they arise with a mindset that there is a solution and you can figure it out, it allows you to stay in solution mode, again keeping you from falling down the ‘failure cycle’.
FOCUS ON MICRO WINS. When Mark is running ultra-marathons he is not thinking about the 75 miles ahead of him, he is thinking about just getting to the next aid station. 75 miles is a long way off, but the next aid station in 8 miles is do-able. Once he is there, he can set the next milestone.
Having micro wins and celebrating them helps you break down longer goals into smaller and more manageable segments, but from a neuroscience perspective, gives you a dopamine hit (the reward seeking chemical in your brain) to keep you going and keep you moving forward. Forward motional also pushes back the stress hormone of cortisol
All of these great tips are not unique to endurance sports but can be used in sales or business as Mark is also the Director of Culture at CHG Healthcare.