What Happens When You ACTUALLY Believe In Yourself...

The hardship of the exercises are intended less to strengthen the back than to toughen the mind. The Spartans say that any army may win while it still has its legs under it; the real test comes when all strength is fled and the men must produce victory on WILL alone.
— Steven Pressfield, Gates of Fire

Do you remember where you were when you first ACTUALLY believed in yourself? I do, because it was yesterday.

Mind Over Matter. Where the mind goes, the body will follow. If you think you can, you can. If you think you can't, you can't. There is a theory regarding human performance called the "Central Governor Theory" that suggests that the brain holds us back from performing to our bodies true potential in order to prevent us from hurting ourselves or causing permanent damage. The brain uses "pain" as a signal or warning for us to stop so as to avoid injury... it thinks it is doing us a favor, and many times it is!

Have you ever watched a scene in a movie where someone gets electrocuted and is thrown across the room? In real life when that happens, it's not an explosion... the electrical shock causes all of your muscles to contract at once and you involuntarily JUMP across the room. THAT is the power of the human body. If we could access it at a moment's notice, don't you think that we would mess it up somehow? That "governor" plays a purpose, and one that has been vital to our evolution as human beings over time. Guess what? You can learn to override much of that governor.

Success is the sum of hard work and consistency over time. Anyone can become great, it's not a trait gifted to the elite or talented few... it's a trait that is earned through blood, sweat, and tears. If you want to get goosebumps and learn about greatness, watch this 1 minute Nike commercial and you'll get what I mean. ANYONE can be great. ANYONE can put in the work. Anyone can fight when she still has her legs under her, when her back is still strong. The true warrior, the Spartans, they're the ones that are still standing when their legs turn to mush and their backs break under the strain. You can decide at any moment to NOT listen to your body.

Your heart and your mind can carry your body when your limbs are too weak. Pain is just pain... it's simply a SIGNAL that your body gives when you're starting to strain and may want to think long and hard about continuing. You can choose to ignore the signal. It's not easy, but it's transformative. Think about that this week as you go through your workouts and if you're a GS Nation member, as you push your mind and body during Test Week. You can always run faster. 

Yesterday, I had the absolute privilege to compete against some of the best hybrid athletes in North America at the Spartan Race US Regional Championship in West Virginia. I qualified for the age group championships back in April, but my training over the past few months hasn't been very consistent or specific to this race. This race was about ~14 miles and 4,000 feet of elevation gain of technical terrain, with 38 obstacles of the highest degree of difficulty. It was a "who's who" of Obstacle Course Racing, and I felt woefully under-prepared and inadequate. So I made a decision - when my limbs inevitably gave out, I would run with my heart.

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I focused hard on controlling my breath and I repeated the following mantra for almost 3 straight hours - "My legs are strong. My lungs are strong. My heart is strong. I am enduring." When my calves cramped up so bad that it put me on the ground 11 miles in, I got up and forced myself to keep going. When I sprained my ankle with a half mile to go so badly that I'll be on crutches the rest of the week, I kept pushing forward. When I was slipping off a wall with the finish line in sight, I held on. When it was all said and done, I sprinted across the line in 11th place in my age group and 101st overall against a field of ~4,500 competitors, ~1,000 of which had qualified to be there. I toed the line with and against guys and gals who I look up to, who I follow on a daily basis, who I KNEW yesterday were better athletes than I. 

I beat many of them, and today, I know what I'm capable of. I believe. I know what my body and mind can accomplish when I turn off that governor, when I ignore the pain signals, when I endure.

Greatness is a choice. Choose wisely. 

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