Mental Toughness

Mental Toughness

Runners need mental toughness to finish the race. It is the voice during the parts of the course that no one is cheering at that motivates you to keep running fast.

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Running requires a few key components: a pair of running shoes, daily practice, and mental toughness. Although physical attributes as speed and power are important to winning, mental toughness may play just as equal or maybe a more important role. Mental toughness is widely used across multiple sports but it is one of the least understood terms. Some define mental toughness as the ability to cope with or handle pressure, stress, and adversity, others define it as an ability to overcome or rebound from failures.

As coaches stress the importance of mental toughness, the concept is engraved into a runner's mind. During a race, it can be defeating to see other runners run past, tiring as the race progresses, and very painful as the soreness and strain starts to kick in. Having positive thoughts and feelings will lead to better performance and confidence to keep running. Conversely, negative thoughts will lead to negative feelings and ragged runs.

In fact, usually athletes pace themselves by feel. Emotions during a race can be divided into two layers: how the athlete feels and how the athlete feels about how they feel. The first layer is completely physiological and affected by the pain whereas the latter is emotional. However, it is the athlete's conscious decision to either perceive these emotions positively or negatively. It is difficult to be happy about racing a dreadfully long 5k through blazing hot weather conditions and throbbing pain but the mental toughness plays a role. These sensations of fatigue are thoughts of the brain trying to force you to slow down and decrease the pain.

For any given level of discomfort, an athlete can either have a good or a bad attitude. However, when they have a positive attitude, they are less bothered and will most likely push harder during the race. Some people have the natural tendency to overlook the pain stimulus by acceptance, whereas others suppress these stimuli. The right attitude towards the race will use the energy efficiently to finish the race in a personal record. No one usually has a positive attitude towards running because it causes pain and stimulates a rush of emotions that tend to get the best of you. Our perception towards mental toughness recalls to our openness towards the idea.

At the starting line of my last cross country race, I began with an attitude that I was not going to do well because I felt like I was extremely sore and the weather was starting to warm up. Due to my past injuries earlier in the season, I did not expect much from myself; in fact, my only goal was to finish. Many of my teammates were worried about this race because none of them wanted me to push my limits and risk my health.

But, I still stepped to the starting line and then the race commenced. The first mile was fast and intense. The critical point of the race was coming up. When I reached the desolate sector of the course, I realized I was only halfway done and the harsh conditions were starting to agitate me. The sun seemed to be shining brighter and the pain in my legs was tearing me apart. At that point, I could have easily dropped out and called it a day. I remember thinking about the race as the last of my high school career and the outlet for me to let my summer's hard work pay off which made my perception change positively, pushing me through the second half of the race with a runner's high. I was able to finish with a new season record and top 20 in my race. After all the adversity I faced during the season with my medical conditions, my mental toughness strengthened me and finally yielded results that rewarded my hard work.

During a race or any form of exercise, chemicals are released by the brain and improve our mood and minimize our pain. These feelings of pleasure improve our attitude and perception towards running and motivates us to run faster. Runners need mental toughness to finish the race. It is the voice during the parts of the course that no one is cheering at that motivates you to keep running fast.

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20 Signs You Were A High School Cheerleader

You got really tired of hearing, "Point your toes."
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Cheerleading is something you'll never forget. It takes hard work, dedication, and comes with its ups and downs. Here are some statements that every cheerleader, past and present, know to be true.

1. You always had bobby pins with you.

2. Fear shot through you if you couldn't find your spankees right away and thought you left them at home.

3. You accumulated about 90 new pairs of tennis shoes...

4. ...and about 90 new bows, bags, socks, and warm ups.

5. When you hear certain songs from old cheer dance mixes it either ruins your day or brings back happy memories.

6. And chances are, you still remember every move to those dances.

7. Sometimes you catch yourself standing with your hands on your hips.

8. You know the phrase, "One more time, ladies" all too well.

9. The hospitality rooms were always one of the biggest perks of going to tournaments (at least for me).

10. You got really tired of hearing, "Point your toes."

SEE ALSO: How The Term 'Cheerlebrity' Destroyed Our Sport

11. If you left the gym at half-time to go get something, you better be back by the time the boys run back out.

12. You knew how awkward it could be on the bus rides home after the boys lost.

13. But you also knew how fun it could be if they won.

14. Figuring out line-up was extremely important – especially if one of your members was gone.

15. New uniforms were so exciting; minus the fact that they cost a fortune.

16. You know there was nothing worse than when you called out an offense cheer but halfway through, you had to switch to the defense version because someone turned over the ball.

17. You still know the school fight song by heart and every move that goes with it.

SEE ALSO: Signs You Suffer From Post-Cheerleading Depression

18. UCA Cheer Camp cheers and chants still haunt you to this day.

19. You know the difference between a clasp and a clap. Yes, they're different.

20. There's always a part of you that will miss cheering and it will always have a place in your heart.

Cover Image Credit: Doug Pool / Facebook

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Don't Be That Ole Miss Fan Who Leaves When Our Teams Need Our Support The Most

While most of the students and some of the fans ditched before the 4th quarter, it really surprised me how little support we showed our struggling team.

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After the beating we took last week from #1 Alabama, we all wanted to steer off the stadium until the next weekend. However, losing to the number one team in the nation shouldn't be depressing; they are number one for a reason.

While most of the students and some of the fans ditched before the 4th quarter, it really surprised me how little support we showed our struggling team. Yes, the game was exciting for a solid 11 seconds, but that doesn't mean that we should abort ship so soon.

I even caught myself wishing they would run the clock around the 3rd quarter, feeling as if this game was never going to end. And it wasn't until the very end of the game that I realized what we had been missing.

We had been missing support for our team. But not just football this weekend but every sport we have. If it isn't one of the big three, do you even care? I know that I didn't and sometimes still don't. Does anyone go to the women's rifle events? Do you know when the softball team plays? Do you even know if we have a hockey team?

Being an Ole Miss fan doesn't mean that we love either football, basketball, or baseball. Being an Ole Miss fan means that we love all three, and every other sport our students participate in.

I've heard from some members of the band that they were so impressed with the Vanderbilt student section, not because they were the rowdiest or best, but because after the football game, they all stayed, stood, and sang to their Alma Mater.

Do any of us even know our Alma Mater? I've met seniors who didn't even know we had one! Yes, its plastered on all the cups this year. Yes, its posted around campus. But do you know it, by heart? If you heard the tune, could you even identify it, much less sing along to it? Do you even know the words?

I'll be the first to tell you that I don't. I have approximately 20 or so cups that have it printed on there, yet I do not know the Ole Miss Alma Mater.

So, when we were getting ready to leave the game, it warmed and saddened my heart when our song played. It warmed my heart to see the remaining student section come together to sing and sway to our Alma Mater, but it saddened me to see how little of people there were to participate, especially since the stadium was packed mere hours earlier.

And if that isn't bad enough, our student section was a quarter empty after the 1st quarter. Imagine being a football player, looking out into the crowd to see your supporters and a quarter of them are gone before the beginning of the 2nd quarter. And every time you look back as the game progresses, more and more are gone until a small portion is left over, cheering you on.

Now, imagine that you are any other athlete in a non-recognized sport. Imagine all the hours you put into training, all the things that you have to miss out on, just for no one to be there supporting you. How disappointed would you feel?

We are an SEC school! We are a big deal! We are in the best conference in the world, competing against some of the best athletes across the country, and as a student and fan of this school, we should show our support not only to the big three but to all of them!

I dare you to branch out and go watch another sport! Stay for the full game, even if it takes all day. Try a new sport, it could be your favorite! Do it for the free t-shirts, do it for the concessions, do it for the free or cheap admissions fee. I don't care why you do it, but be like Nike and "just do it!" That is how we can be better! That is how we can be a better Ole Miss fan!

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