My advice is to slow down and take a deep breath. While it sounds great to go “balls to the wall” in training, you have to be careful. Long term success is more dependent on consistency of effort over a long period of time than it is the intensity of a single workout.
I want to thank you for your post as I have been thinking a lot lately about mental toughness. Strength training does not come easy to me. I’m your classic ectomorph. Endurance training comes much more easily to me than strength training. In fact, my background is distance running. I spent many years racing marathons. As I got older (currently 56), I saw the need to add strength training to my routine. Advancing age was taking away what little strength I had!
One thing that I really appreciate about Jim’s approach is that he does not disparage folks like me who will never put up big lifting numbers. I am tough, however, and disciplined, so I have gotten stronger. Maybe not as strong as most here, but strong for me. I’m proud of the hard work I’ve put in and for having the courage to embrace an image of myself that was counter to my past. By that I mean having the ability to see skinny old me become strong. That definitely wasn’t part of my self-image for the vast majority of my life.
Here’s what this has to do with mental toughness. As 2016 rolled around, the principles taught by Jim were finally beginning to sink in and I was able to see a path forward that would allow me to become a better me. In fact, on New Year’s Day, I told my family that this would be the year of Being Awesome. Sounds corny, but when the words came out of my mouth they gave me a feeling of power over my destiny. I know. Corny.
Then on January 30 of this year I had a major heart attack. All my plans were immediately derailed. I’m very lucky to be alive. So, here I am 3 months post heart attack and I’m just returning to lifting. I have been doing aerobic exercise and am trying to build up to a 3 mile run. If I was weak before, you should see me now! My lifts are at about 50% of what they were before. That’s tough to take mentally. Immediately post attack, I felt stupid for even having lifting equipment in my house.
What I’ve learned from training for distance running and, most recently, 5/3/1, is that the important thing is to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I don’t know where my new lifting will eventually take me, but I do know that I will be stronger than if I didn’t lift.
Like I said, slow down and take a breath. Figure out your goals. What kind of person do you want to be? It would be great if the path from here to there could be linear, but it won’t be. There will be obstacles. Job, relationships, health. You name it. Circumstances will change, but who you are inside can stand strong. That is mental toughness to me. Some days it might be having the toughness to gut out a run or a set of lifts. Other days it might be having the toughness to take a step backwards and reset.
I hope some of what I shared is relevant. I too have been a victim of thinking too much. Not enjoying the present because I focused on what I felt still needed to be done. Another corny line, but it’s true … the journey is more important than the destination. Learn to enjoy the ride.