When you're physically exerting yourself over extended periods your mind comes in to play, normally to tell you to stop and sit down with a nice cup of tea! I always find that during sport my mind is concentrated on the match in progress, whether it's rugby or cricket. When it comes to running, hill walking, climbing etc. I find my mind often tells me I'm tired or I'm scared and I shouldn't carry on. This is when I try and switch off, clear my mind and think of other things - let's be honest, running is boring a lot of the time and if you're thinking about it and getting tired then you will.
You need to put your mind in a place where it won't concentrate on aching legs or sore hands and it will let you carry on with time flying by rather than the crawl that seems to take place when you are thinking about the exercise!
I've never done anything compared to what people can do; climbing Everest or skiing to one of the Poles is a major trial on body and mind but the same principle must apply. If, whilst ascending Everest, you concentrated on every single movement and every aching muscle and heavy breath you probably wouldn't make it terribly far. Also, if you're ready to simply give up a life long dream because you're a bit tired then you won't get anywhere with an expedition - a skill that can be learnt from a simple run, if you leave home on a 10 mile run and are 'too tired' and give up after five then what have you achieved?
I've used this quote before from Vince Lombari, NFL legend, but it sums my point up well:
I firmly believe that any man's finest hour, his greatest fulfillment of all he holds dear, is the moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle - victorious.
My point is not only that mental strength is important but that the ability to turn your mind away from what you're doing, ignore the pain and put your mind to other aspects of life is vitally important (in my relatively inexperienced opinion anyway). Next time you go for a run try and move your mind away from your feet banging in to the pavement or the soreness in your knees and turn off - time will fly by and you might even run further and faster, your body will be under control but your won't have to dwell on its pains and problems!
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