“Shut up legs!” is a mantra made famous by cycling great Jens Voight. It seems to be the quintessential statement of mental toughness. If I say it and believe it, it shall be true. A finely tuned professional athlete might be able to will his way to tap into that last 5 or 10 percent of effort that makes the difference between victory or failure, but what about the rest of us?
I would argue that mental toughness is more complicated than it sounds. The easy definition, it seems, is when things get tough, buckle down and force your will. After two completed full Ironman triathlons in 2012 and 2014 and my first ever Did Not Finish (DNF) in 2016 at Ironman Cozumel, my understanding of toughness has shifted a bit.
For those of you who may not know, an Ironman is a triathlon made up of a 2.4 mile swim followed by 112 miles cycling and then a full marathon (26.2 miles). In my first two races, I faced some really dark times and wanted to quit at multiple stages of the race....