“Toughen up your will.”

October 1st, 2010



Those were the opening words of an e-mail that Patagonia sent me this week. The e-mail touched on an insanely difficult climb being tackled in France by Patagonia-outfitted alpinists, but the principle holds true across many things: if you’re going to take on something difficult, and if it’s genuinely important to you, it’s vital that you harden yourself to the task.

Yes, prepare. Yes, plan. But above all set your mind to it.

This hit home to me, in my own little way, because yesterday I did a particularly tough treadmill workout. Hey, it’s just the treadmill — not the French Alps — and it wouldn’t have taxed a “real” runner. But it was tough for me, and it required upping the intensity throughout the workout.

In case you’re curious about specifics of the workout, it went like this:

  • Decide on the overall distance you’ll cover.
  • Start at an easy jogging pace for the first half-mile — or whatever works for you to get good and warm.
  • Every quarter-mile after that — or tenth, or whatever increment you decide — increase the speed by a planned amount, e.g. 0.1 or 0.2 or 0.5 mph.
  • Keep doing it until you cover the whole distance.

Easy, right? Sure it is — unless you’ve really picked a challenge for yourself, which in this case I had.

By the end of the workout, my legs were steaming and my lungs were screaming. When I’d tried this previously (I’ve been doing these treadmill sessions twice a week for a couple of months now), I hadn’t been able to maintain the increases in pace all the way to the end. But yesterday I did.

Part of it, I’m sure, is that with each workout-and-recovery cycle, I’m getting more of my old running legs under me. But a big part of it — the biggest part — was that I had made up my mind to do the whole program, regardless of how much I wanted to quit.

When you set your mind to something, don’t quit.

It’s a simple lesson — one of the simplest — but it bears repeating.


(Photo by Zach Dischner.)

One Response to ““Toughen up your will.””

  1. Tyson Goodridge Says:

    Amen to that Tim. Congrats again for all of your progress on this front, and agree about setting your mind to it, and for following through. For those of us who get easily distracted (me-Exhibit A) I hold myself accountable by telling someone else I know and care about it (and vice versa) to hold me to it.

    On a side note, Jim and I are doing that over on DailyMile- great motivation

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