Struggling during an ultramarathon race is common and part of the challenge. To overcome those struggles toughness is required. So….where does toughness come from?
My feeling is that toughness is a combination of the mental and the physical. When I am in good physical shape for an ultramarathon, my body can respond to the physical challenge of running ultra distances. When this happens my mind or the mental part of me is more at ease and I am in a better place to handle the challenges than if I was not in good shape.
With that said, there have been times when I have toed the starting line of an ultramarathon knowing that I’m not in good shape. I have found when this is the case my body does not respond very well to the challenge and my mind or the mental part of me seems to go down hill.
So does the physical part of me determine my toughness? I think being in good shape physically certainly does help with the mental component of ulta running, but there are times even when in good shape, when physically I feel crumby. When this happens it becomes mental and it is mental toughness that gets me through the hard times.
How do we stay mentally tough when physically we are struggling. The physical may be a sour stomach, muscle cramping, or any kind of aches and pains. Perhaps the mental toughness comes with understanding that these physical struggles will pass. They may pass after a few miles or they may pass after crossing the finish line.
Getting better physically means drinking, taking salt, and eating. Doing this can be hard especially when your stomach goes sour.
So, where does toughness come from? Mental? Physical?