Fitness Training and Obstacle Racing

Perseverance and Endurance

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Why are there people motivated beyond reason to push themselves insanely hard over time? Don’t you wish like hell you understood how they did it? What keeps them going? And why can’t we all have that same level of motivation to reach our goals? The reasons are as different as the people who have them.

There are many degrees of commitment when it comes to goals. Most people start in the love stage (they’re really excited about it, can’t wait to get to it and want to spend all their time gaining mastery). That quickly changes (6 – 8 weeks for a lot of people, sometimes a full year) and might turn into the mundane stage (I’m not that interested anymore) or the holy crap stage (this is much harder to get good at then I thought). Quitting and taking a seat is always the easy choice and unfortunately the most common method chosen. It’s getting more and more rare to see someone with enough passion to both persevere and endure the hard times.

I want to highlight a key mindset difference between someone who is perseverant and someone who is enduring. You can have both but it’s not as common. A hard working, never quit attitude isn’t the norm over time, it’s the exception. But it can be learned -if- you want it bad enough.

Are you the type of person that will persevere? Or are you the type of person that will endure? Take a moment to carefully consider the question. Maybe you are both or maybe you don’t think you have much of either. I believe you need both to be great and it’s very difficult to do both well.

If you’re perseverant you’re the type of person that will get up after falling. When learning a new skill, you’re okay with failure and see it as a chance to try again and grow more skilled with each attempt. You’ll dissect the science behind your failure and try again and again. Like riding a bike, you don’t give up because you fell and scraped your knees.

Most people will try a new skill, fail a couple of times, and give up before they are truly good at the skill. There are tons of excuses for this behavior. “I’m bored and not interested anymore,” is chief among them. While it’s tough to gauge the timeline on someone who is perseverant vs. bored and moving on, I think most people give up a skill in their first year. Skills take tens of thousands of hours and years to be good. Are you perseverant?

The ability to endure comes from the will to fight long after everyone else has gone home. Unlike perseverance where you can fall, go home and try again tomorrow, enduring is your ability to stay in the moment and keep fighting. Enduring hits when your mind doesn’t want to do something anymore and you fight to keep going. Most instincts in your body will try to slow you down or convince you to stop – the little voice in your head being the biggest culprit. Someone who endures will ignore the voice and carry on. Endurance comes in sports that are generally longer in distance and time because it takes a lot of time for your mind to get to breaking for you to endure what you’re going through. Yet in some cases enduring a workout when you’re tired is tough too.

Inevitably the question becomes what can you do with this information? There is so much to talk about when it comes to individuals and goals, it’s very hard to generalize. So, I leave it to you to decide for yourself the next time you set your goals and go after them. Whether your goal is for weight loss, nutrition, strength or performance – ask yourself at the end of the day if you’ve done everything intelligent that you can do to hit your goal.

Have you truly persevered? When you tried to improve your nutrition, but something derailed you like getting sick or having a bad weekend of eating, did your goal disappear? Or did you persevere after you fell and get back up to eat well again?  A lot of people eat well to lose weight, then something happens, and they get derailed and never get back on track.

Have you truly endured? When you went to the gym and started your workout but you were tired and not feeling it – did you push through the workout to get it done the way you designed it or did you leave early or give in to other movements you enjoy more? Maybe you never made it into the gym at all.

Reaching any type of goal requires a good deal of perseverance and endurance. Take the time to check in with yourself and ensure you’re giving both.

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