I had the pleasure of working with an athlete last year who had served in the armed services. I was always amazed at not only the physical workload he could handle but also the mental workload he could handle. Whenever I posted a workout it was fascinating to see his feedback. It was always very matter of fact with very little emotion attached to it.
I am a very emotional person so reading a workout log that says: “Done. Everything went well. Nothing significant to report.” would throw me for a loop. Okay great. So I assume based on the heart rate and pace data that the run went well. It wasn’t difficult. It wasn’t easy. Moving on. The whole season progressed like this.
Whenever we met in person for a run I’d ask if he had ever had a bad workout since there was never any sign of disappointment, fatigue, mental walls, anything negative! He said, “I just do what you tell me to do in the log. No questions. If I am tired it doesn’t matter. I go out and do it. If the workout is hard it doesn’t matter: you told me to do 6 x 1 mile at 7:00 pace, so I went out and did it.” Never did it cross this athletes mind to make an excuse, to give up, or to even question the training based on how he felt.
The most fascinating part of this true mental ninjas year was when he took on his first Ironman. He got to the run and the feedback I received after the race was “well you told me to run this fast, so I just went out and did it”. He ultimately surprised himself by hitting a finish time in the 11:00 range and was truly amazed at how well he did.
The lesson to be learned here isn’t that you need to do every workout 100% (although I’m sure all coaches would love that) but for everyone who tackles anything in life, there are times when you’re going to be faced with obstacles from our own self. We put up road blocks and walls before we even start sometimes. What I learned from this athlete is no matter how emotional a person is sometimes you just need to look at your training or whatever you’re facing in life as a simple do or do not task. When you take the ‘emotion’ out of it you are left with a pretty easy answer…just get it done.