There is a saying which goes “Training is like fighting with a gorilla. You don’t stop when you’re tired. You stop when the gorilla is tired.”

So just how do you keep going when every stitch of your being is screaming to stop.You are done when you say you are! The mind is the single most important endurance factor and the new frontier of endurance capacity. 

We step outside of the nutrition box this month to take a peak at what else helps get us to the next level…. the level beyond our comfort zones.

Endurance is “the struggle to continue against a mounting desire to stop.” This does not apply only to endurance sport but to any physical or mental barrier we face this allows us to grow as athletes and people. 

The physical limits of pain, muscle, oxygen, heat, thirst, fuel must be trained, overcome and tested, but what happens when you reach a plateau in performance, where do you find the extra 5-10%? Going to that dark place, the hurt locker and finding that you can in fact push through and well past what you believed physically possible is arguably what keeps otherwise ‘normal’ people coming back for more and more pain.. some like to call it fun 🙂 

Naturally there is a failure point within the muscle and CV system that provides a limiting factor but it may be further out than we think and experience. The central governor theory is a proposed process that the brain regulates ‘maximum’ capacity to prevent a predicted damage to the body and muscles (simply explained).  So we in fact have a lot more capacity in the our bodies than what our brain is prepared to give. The example of this is when you are finishing a race and the last few meters to the line feel like its 100% of what you have, if the finish were 50 meters further would you still finish? Probably. A couple minutes later were you able to walk and talk? Yes… proof that there was still something left in the tank. 

So how do we overcome to endure! 

Here are some tips:

  • Reset the bench mark from time to time: Push beyond what you think is possible without fear of the outcome.
  • Use music to drive you through hard interval sessions.
  • Smile 🙂 the act of smiling has an amazing way of overcoming pain – even when you have crossed the threshold to the ‘dark side” PS you may look odd to others, so try not look like the creepy dude at the gym.
  • Use positive affirmation and positive self talk. Practice this everyday while training. 
  • Rest! Reset your mind and body with rest, the results are amazing. Rest days do as much for you as training days. Do not underestimate their value.

Further Reading :

There is good book : Endure, that takes a deep dive into the various limits to human performance.