Share this article 7 Tips to Improve Mental Toughness for Challenge Competitors
7 Tips to Improve Mental Toughness for Challenge Competitors

Want to know the biggest difference athletes like Mikko Salo, Lindsay Valenzuela, Kristin Clever, Tommy Hackenbruck and the rest of us out there?

Yes, they are CrossFit elites. Their Fran time is faster than yours, but it is not completely due to their superior athletic gifts.  It is the mental toughness that separates them from the rest of the pack.  When the workout is on the line these athletes rise above the norm and perform at an extraordinary level.

Mental toughness is their secret.  They have all formally trained their minds to perform at a higher level. Mental toughness is paramount to your success with your workouts and diet during the Challenge. Check out these tips to condition your mental muscle and improve your game and your lifestyle. These are practical tools to help you live like a champion in any area of your life.

Tip #1 Stay in the moment

Our modern culture is rife with pit falls.  Confusion and chaos can be part of our daily routine.  Smart phones, social media, driving while texting, multi-tasking. Everywhere you look – we are a society on the go.

So how can we stay focused when presented starting a new workout or changing our diet?  Focus only on taking the next step. Then take the next step and the next.  Put aside all the extraneous things and prepare your mind for a hard workout. Focus on recharging your body with clean fuel after the workout you just finished. Rest, recover and do it all again.

Tip #2 Forget about it

If Rich Froning has a bad workout in the CrossFit Games he is quick to make light of it (think swimming wod 2013).  It is like water off a ducks back.  Then he is right back to work with renewed focus.  Like elite athletes – you have to learn to have a short memory when you have a small set back.

We all have small setbacks. The same principle applies to our diets. We may have a cheat meal or an entire cheat day (going off the paleo diet). Learn to let go of past errors and move on quickly so that you can achieve your goal. Just because you cheated with your diet doesn’t make you a cheater. Learn, let go, move on, and improve.

Tip #3 Stay Up

A bad workout or two and many of us can be ready to throw in the towel. Add in an injury and most of us will. Make a note to learn from your mistakes and always keep a positive attitude.  It is easy to get down or be negative.  But one positive thought or high five from a teammate may be just enough to get you over the hump and finishing the wow with a smile on your face.

How does this impact you and your daily nutrition? It takes 21 days to form a habit either positive or negative.  So start now and use your journal. Write down all negative thoughts you have in the day.  On the next day begin to get rid of those negative thoughts and one by one replace them with positive ones.  This is a great start to a new mind set.

Tip #4 Take the Ritual Drug

Get in the habit of performing daily rituals that will help you improve. Top athletes all have rituals. Julie Foucher was recently written about in the CrossFit Journal for her strict time management as a pre-med student and training. Good rituals build great results.

Get in the habit of creating good rituals in your daily nutrition and workouts.

Tip #5 Smile

The warriors path is not always easy. There will be mornings where you will be sore and not want to go in early and workout. You will have hunger cravings after long hard calorie crushing workouts.  Enjoy the process.  Smile during the battle. Know that the path is not always easy but that you are making steady progress towards your goal. Tell yourself that you like burpees and smile while doing them.  Sit down at the table with a fresh green mixed salad and grin as you take steps towards your goals.

Tip #6 See your Future Self 

Post up a photo of your past self, fitting into a pair of your favorite jeans. Create a dream board on your refrigerator to remind yourself of your upcoming goals and where you want to be. Pictures can help create a constant reminder of what you want to achieve and speed you on your path to get there. Make sure to also upload progress photos to your profile to see your results along the way.

It is the nature of thought to find its way into action.

ChrisianNevell Bovee-an American author and lawyer in the late 1800s
Tip #7 Accountability

Have a partner that you trust to be there on your side. When the going gets tough – have them to lean on and help you pick yourself back up. A solid teammate can be critical to your long term success both in CrossFit workouts and your daily nutritional goals.

About the Author

Brad McLeod

Brad knows first-hand about mental toughness after being kicked out of a top tier Spec Ops training unit. He failed out of BUD/S the first time after failing a math test (made it through Hell Week and Dive Pool Comp). He came back a year later and graduated and served as an operator on the Navy SEALTeams.
Today he is one of the most sought after mental conditioning coaches in the world today having recently returned from Ireland, Southern California, Pennsylvania and parts unknown in north Florida. Brad is the founder of SEALgrinderPT whose audios and EBooks have been downloaded in 20 different countries around the globe.

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By Challenge Team | Thu, Oct 22, 2015 08:00AM | Living Healthy

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Babette Romancier - CrossFit R3
4 years ago | Report Abuse

It's never too late to be reminded how a positive outlook can give you a positive result. I like the journal idea and I think taking it one step farther would be to write down what the negative thought was and counter it with positive like you would encourage someone else that needed a bit of positive encouragement. Write the positive to yourself to counter the negative and redirect your focus.

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