Run in Crappy Weather – An Ode to Mental Toughness

It’s 5 am. Your obnoxious alarm is going off. It’s 15°F out and snowing. What person in their right mind wants to get out of bed to go exercise in that mess?

I mean, honestly, it’s so cozy and warm in bed. This HAS to be a poor life choice.

But you do it. You peel yourself out of bed, layer up and get it done.


Maybe you do it because it’s on your training plan or perhaps you’re busy and it’s the only time of day that it will happen. You have your own unique reason for getting out the door. Any way you cut it, some days it can be really hard to get it done.

One of the first things I learned as I was becoming certified as a triathlon coach was to have a clear purpose for every workout.

That might mean staying within a certain range of intensity so you can reap the benefits of improved endurance or it may mean doing low cadence work on the bike to build strength and power.  The concept is super simple.

Be purposeful (in your workouts and in life).

What I have learned as I’ve grown as a coach and an athlete, though, is that sometimes mental toughness alone can be purpose enough for talking yourself into doing a workout (but it is often paired with some sort of physiological benefit all the same).

As much as I love to geek out about all the physiology at play, the reality is that most folks perform short of their potential. There are myriad reasons for that, but why let the mental game trip you up?

Sometimes you just need a brutally cold, windy, snow run (or equivalent) to sharpen your mental sword.

That’s why I love to mix in brutal workouts or exercise in stupid conditions once in awhile. It allows you to go back and think “I survived that. I’m kind of a badass. This right here? This is cake.”

So know this. You made it out of bed. You got that workout done.

You’re a survivor.

Better yet, you’re an overcomer. You can thrive, even when life gives you lemons.

And when you come to tough spots in a race or even in another key workout, you can draw from that well of mental toughness. You can push the envelope just a little farther.

Hell, this is what I really love about sports: it applies to life, too. Just think, when you go through rough patches in life you can draw from this same reserve. Because you’re a total badass, remember?

So, to quote an early influence in my life: “Embrace the suck” every once in a while and keep up the good work. And realize that sometimes you just need to get out the door more for your mind than your body.

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Posted in Endurance, Fitness, Psychology, Running

Shawn Gerber View posts by Shawn Gerber

Shawn lives and breathe this stuff everyday, and has dedicated his professional life to helping people like you become fitter, stronger, and healthier than ever. Shawn is a Level 1 Certified Precision Nutrition Coach, ACSM Certified Personal Trainer, as well as a USA Triathlon and Cycling Certified Coach.
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