Embrace the suck. You may have heard this term before. It originally comes from the military and it basically means, “Yep. Affirmative. This sucks. Now get over it and let’s go.” This phrase has since been embraced by many people in many forms - from business, to sports, to mowing the lawn – it’s basically the phrase that says, “This part will not be fun; suck it up and get on with it.”
Embrace it. Own it. Dive into it. Deal with it.
When things get tough – are you able to embrace the suck? Do you get to the end of a race or competition and know you really gave it everything you had to give? Or do you get to the end of your race or workout and immediately feel like you could’ve pushed it more?
When you are miserable because of the heat or your legs are burning because of a big effort – you’ve probably noticed that as soon as you start focusing on that pain and discomfort – it starts to become even more intense and grows VERY LARGE in your mind until that’s all you’re thinking about. Your Mental Training Homework consists of two brain hacks to try out for “embracing the suck”.
- When you’re out on a run, ride, or doing a workout outside and it’s hot out and you’re dripping buckets of sweat
- You’re in the middle of training or a race and you’re feeling the burn, your legs are searing from the effort and screaming for you to stop
I always have a rough few runs when the weather starts to get warmer. It takes a while for my body (and brain) to get used to the heat. I was recently out for a trail run and it was warmer than I expected (and I was not as hydrated as I should’ve been) and I remembered something I used to do when my legs were burning riding up a climb.
If you’re overheating and need to keep moving until the next water stop, in that moment of intense discomfort, take a breath and then imagine that you are submerging your hands into ice-cold water and pouring cold water down your spine. If it’s your legs that are burning, imagine you are pouring icy water down your legs. You’ll be amazed at the immediate effect this has. Keep doing it for as long as you need it.
- When you are doing intervals and you’re feeling the pain of the effort and just want to stop
- You are getting close to the finish line and you can feel your body starting to slow down
The other technique I used out on that trail run where I was overheating and letting my head get wrapped up in how awful I felt, was to extend my “finish line”. I was running a loop I was familiar with and had about a ½ mile left when the fatigue really started to kick in. I immediately pretended that I was not nearing the end of my run, but was planning to run another loop. Your brain and body will change the perception of effort you are putting out if you tell your brain you’re actually planning to be out there longer.
Say you’ve got one mile left in your run or one set left in your workout – if you’re starting to fatigue you might start becoming hyper-focused on how your body feels and then your brain starts feeding into that even more. If you extend the “finish line” – and pretend that you have two more miles or two more sets – your perception of the effort you are putting out will shift.
OBVIOUSLY – with these scenarios, it is NOT always mental. But when it IS – these two brain hacks can get you through that moment. These two brain hacks can help keep you pushing a little further until you get to that next water stop or hit the finish line. Tools can build things and destroy things depending on how you use them and your brain is a very powerful too you can use to your advantage or disadvantage. Your Mental Training homework helps you be sure you are using that tool to build rather than destroy.
Have fun with your homework! Come back and tell me how it went!