Distance running or any type of intense training over a prolonged period of time is almost 100 percent mental. What this means is that the body—contrary to popular opinion—is less of a factor in the training process than the mind. Translation…your body will do whatever your mind tells it to, not the other way around. Therefore, in order to build a crazy amount of endurance, stamina, power, resistance…you need to be mentally tough, mentally prepared and mentally ready.
I began endurance training when I was sixteen. Initially, it was to stay fit, but it quickly turned into a helpful coping mechanism for some issues that I had been dealing with. I found that intense training helped me battle social anxiety and allowed me to recognize internal strengths, and garner my own set of psychological resources so I could navigate certain obstacles whenever they arose. The result–a feeling of great accomplishment when I finished training, greater quality of life, more enjoyment, less fear and increased joy.
Activities that involve endurance training or exercise routines that require pushing past what’s comfortable in order to sustain longer periods of activity, include running, cycling, swimming, weight training, rowing and hiking.
Endurance training can be beneficial both physically and psychologically, in that it can increase energy levels, boost confidence, and foster a sense of well-being.
Our mind and body are intimately connected. When we push ourselves physically, our mind — our psychological self — becomes stronger as well. Physical endurance builds emotional fortitude, mental toughness and resilience. It teaches us that we are stronger than we thought and capable of more than we imagined.
Endurance training teaches people this on a fundamental and intuitive level, sometimes in a way that is beyond anything we can comprehend through intellectual knowledge. The body registers the discomfort of endurance, then pushes past it, even if it’s only one more swim lap, two more minutes of running, or one more squat. Each time we push through something hard or painful, we learn we are stronger than we thought. As our body learns physical resiliency, we come to know it psychologically as well.