It is the end of the third week of mission StrongFast, April 20th, and I’m taking away a lesson in the power of the mind. Mental preparation and toughness is going to be vital in achieving my goal. I need to be able to embrace the physical discomfort of high intensity exercise.
There was a specific occasion in the past week that my physical discomfort triumphed over my mind.
For many of my runs in the week, I was aware of the feeling of fatigue in my legs and tightness in my calves, as they adjusted to this new running pace. I felt tired. Despite this, I also noted that during my mid-week 5 k run made up of 3.45 min/km pace segments, my performance did not suffer. I did not have any aches or pains, and I successfully completed the session. My mind conquered my body.
On the Friday of that week my friend then challenged me to complete a series of hopping motions (a combination of frog-like jumps and tuck jumps), trying to do more than 40 repetitions in 5 minutes.
I accepted the challenge feeling confident that I could complete more than 40. My friend predicted otherwise. He predicted a meltdown, and possibly me storming off due to unhappiness from general body discomfort.
The first 3 minutes of the challenge were unremarkable. I was at a steady pace and doing alright. At the 3 minute mark, my heart rate was ramping up and my legs were on fire. I filled these last two minutes with thoughts about everything I hated about this exercise. The fourth minute also included me wanting to stand still and cry.
At the 5 minute mark I had completed 37 repetitions. I immediately verbalized my hatred of this exercise. In the moment I am genuinely angry, fuming! Then feeling like they are not understanding how angry I am, I storm off. After 15 minutes, I return, having ran and stretched in an effort to regain some mental composure.
It is hours after the fact that I am able to rationally discuss my meltdown. At this point the pain has faded and I am amazed at how real the anger felt at the time. This is because it was real, but brought on by the level of discomfort (Likely also not helped by the fact that I wasn't successful).
What this experience did highlight for me was the mental toughness that will need to be simultaneously developed in order for my physical capacity to continue to develop. Sometimes our brains need to get out of the way and let our bodies do the work.
Lastly, I can report that I have not re-attempted the challenge in the last two weeks, but have agreed to do so, provided that the challenger joins me so that I am not suffering alone.