Developing Mental Toughness For Racing And Life

Mental toughness plans require customization to the unique needs of each person. Everyone has their DNA. Therefore, a mental toughness plan that aligns with the individual's unique personality and abilities is needed.  

Each person must find their own "why" for training and racing. Understanding your why and the greater purpose behind running and racing are crucial to a breakthrough.

When things get tough in life, you must have a vital purpose behind what you are doing to get through the rough patches.

A One Size Fits All Approach Does Not Work

A one-size-fits-all mental toughness approach touted in many media sources will only work for a while. Mental Toughness training is an unforgettable individual adventure requiring deep thought and commitment.                                                                   

Developing a unique mental toughness plan for each person is a must, not a want.  That's why I offer to help each person create an individual mental toughness plan called a competitive profile assessment. 

The Assessment helps you develop "Level 10" mental toughness. Level 10 is the highest level of mental strength and helps take you closer to your God-given potential.                           

It only takes about 10 minutes for a person to complete the assessment. Then, we work on acknowledging your strengths and overcoming your core weaknesses with an individualized mental toughness plan.

Scheduling a formal appointment with your coach is the best way to create an individualized mental toughness plan. Placing the appointment on your calendar means the task is a priority.

Said a bit differently, your calendar helps ensure that your mental toughness plan is a priority against the many other distractions that happen in a typical day.       

When you schedule a task, you say to yourself that the activity is a priority and essential. Scheduling appointments allows you to focus on completing the task and avoid procrastination.

If an important task is on your formal schedule, it is much more likely to get done.

The Importance Of Strong Why's

Identifying strong whys (you may have more than one why) behind your training, and racing helps you improve dramatically. 

You can't run to your potential based on someone else's motivation for you. You are unique and one of a kind.  Therefore, you need to think deeply about what truly motivates you.

If you are a coach, you must help your athlete find the strong why behind what they do each day for the long-term success of your athletes.

One Simple Illustration That Shows How We Are Different

I conducted a mental toughness experiment years ago. We asked runners what encouraging words they liked to hear during workouts and races.                                                                                       

Some students said they like no words at all. The runners wanted to focus on training or racing and tune out everything else. Others wanted you to tell them exactly what pace they were on in a race. Still, others preferred strong words of encouragement as much as possible during the entire workout or race.

Some wanted to know how far they were behind the pack. Others did not want to know because it felt like too much pressure.

Every athlete differed in the words or actions they wanted to hear from their coaches during workouts or races. And the athlete's inner dialogue as they learned how to push through tough spots in workouts and races was much different. 

One More Example

Here is another example of how motivation differs and its importance. 

One of the athletes I coached to the collegiate level ran for the team, not for themself. Giving everything to help the team succeed was the "why" behind training in high school.

In the college program, the person lost motivation because no connection was established to give everything to your team.

Individual goals were emphasized in the college program by staff instead. The "why" behind this person's training was lost, and motivation plummeted.

I needed to understand the importance of helping each person identify a strong why early in my career. 

Looking back, I wish someone would have pulled me aside and told me how important a strong why, unique to each person, was.                 

It took me a while, through trial and error, to figure out what I was doing wrong in the early years of coaching.

Identify Mental Toughness Phrases

Having exceptional "mental toughness phrases" for tough patches in races and workouts helps you reach your God-given potential.

Sometimes, the phrase is a Scripture; other times, it's a quote from a famous athlete the person respects; other times, it's a phrase the athlete comes up with themselves, or it's a combination of all of the above.                                       

Since I coach at a faith-based school, I focus our discussion on specific Scriptures to help individuals get through their training and racing tough spots. I receive feedback that the Scriptures help the athlete push through the challenging areas of training and racing.

As a side note, mental toughness preparation through running and racing translates into character building that lasts a lifetime if done well, especially in high school when there is still an openness to breaking through significant life barriers.

Teaching mental toughness skills through cross-country and track is excellent preparation for sports and life.

Taking the extra time to know a person's unique inner story is critical to long-term success. When internal dialog transforms into positive and life-giving thoughts through a strong "why," many more things become possible.  


Coach Weber

Philippians 4:13

An Example Of One "Why"

If you are interested, you can read my “why” behind how I won one of the toughest races in the world here: Discovering Your Unique Motivation.

The story may help you find your unique motivation.

Matt Centrowitz.jpg

Matt Centrowitz winning Gold in the 1500 meters at the Olympics.  In my mind he won not only because of his race tactics but also because of his no fear attitude when leading from the front.

Photo Credit: NBC Sports

                                         My Favorite Scripture