Monthly Archives: March 2014

Toughness

I believe most of us could use a little more toughness. I certainly could. No shame to admit I’m nowhere as tough as I would like to be. That’s a work in progress.

I started thinking about it back in October 2013 when I read this post at the Art of Manliness. This says it all: “Men in particular often confuse toughness with strength, thinking that being strong is automatically the same as being tough, when in fact the two are distinct qualities.”

By the same rule I always thought I couldn’t be tough, since I’m not strong. But that post has more: “Mental toughness boils down to how you respond to stress. Do you start to panic and lose control, or do you zero in on how you are going to overcome the difficulty?”

 

Wait. I realized I’m good at that. Specially at work. The world may be falling apart and I’m still able to keep focus and put myself together. I’ll also freak out later and have a bad night of sleep. But I power it through first.

So what’s mental toughness? According to Wikipedia: “Mental toughness – a term commonly used by coaches, sport psychologists, sport commentators, and business leaders – generally describes a collection of attributes that allow a person to persevere through difficult circumstances and emerge without losing confidence.”

Well, so maybe general toughness actually starts at your mind. And that’s where I’m heading to. I agree with the original post, which states that toughness is a skill. And like any other skill it can be trained and enhanced.

So here are some of the things I’m trying in order to get tougher:

  • Push harder on physical training: Pushing a little harder every training session is a requirement to get better. But to get tough I’m actually trying to push much harder every time. I fail miserably  once in a while, but in general it works
  • Temperature comfort: Not hard to practice this one in Canada. I’m constantly colder than it would be comfortable. Either very cold for just a few minutes (like taking the dog outside for 2 minutes wearing only shorts and t-shirt at -20.oC) or just a little cold for a long time (keeping the house at 17.oC all day long). Late fall/early winter I was practicing spending up to 30 minutes on shorts and t-shirts sitting outside the house (between 2.oC and -3.oC)
  • Expose myself to social interaction: This is a big one for me. I’m not good with socialization so taking baby steps.
  • Fasting. I haven’t done that in a while since I’m trying to keep my current body weight, but fasting up to 24hrs (only water and unsweetened  tea and coffee allowed) is discomfortable and also good for your health.
  • Embrace the struggle. I’m trying to actually the enjoy any struggles as part of a learning process

Do you have any tips for me? Any thoughts on that?

Smarter, not harder #crossfit #running

I can’t even remember properly now, but I think my first race was early 2011. It wasn’t timed or anything. One of those fund raising races. I had just started running and that 5K was brutal. I ended up with bloody nipples and blisters on my heel.

But getting there was hard training for what I can remember, but can’t tell exactly how much effort I put on that.

I can tell, however, how much effort I put on my first Half Marathon. I got a Garmin for that and carefully logged all my training sessions. By training session I mean running, since that is what runners do, right? Run more miles. Longer and/or faster each time, accumulating mileage until the race.

The numbers: 49 runs, across 4 months. That was about 78 hours running, adding up to 310KM.

harvest

 

Harvest Half Marathon – Oct/2012

I ran that half marathon in October 2012. After that I engaged on Duathlon, Triathlon, full Marathon… So I got more experience as an athlete and started putting some brain matter on it as well. I love racing long distances, but I really hate training for it.

I mean, almost 80 hours running? Really? There isn’t a playlist long enough for that. It sucks. It’s boring. Don’t try to convince me otherwise. I needed something smarter.

I found about CrossFit and read about all the good results people were getting from it. I talked to my running buddy and she heard similar things, so when a CrossFit gym opened close to the office, we registered on the first week.

crossfit-logo

So this weekend I ran my latest Half Marathon, the hypo, and the total amount of runs I put scared me. And by scared I mean I wasn’t sure if I should even show up for the race, since I did virtually nothing to be prepared.

I ran 8 times, adding less than 50K and just under 6hrs were spent on “running”. And I decided that I should be “serious” about training only 4 weeks before the race.

On top of that I’m also about 10Kg (~22lbs) heavier than I was in 2012. You can probably remember from school, more mass over the same distance requires more energy to move.

finish_line

Hyporthermic Half Marathon – Feb 2014

Anyway, I decided to show up for the race and did great! Not a PB, but my second best time on a half marathon with very little time spent actually training for it and very low mileage.

I’m glad with the results, but for my next Half I’ll try to scale down to 4~6 sessions, maybe 10KM in total? Looking for more training hacks and smarter ways to get more with less.

Leave me your thoughts on that!