Use this rule the next time you feel like giving up.
If you’ve ever done an endurance challenge, race – or even a really tough hike – you’ll find there’s parts where you want to give up.
Most people that think “I could never do that” – are more limited by their mindset than their physical capability. Their mental game is what needs work – and part of that is knowing what to expect your brain is going to be saying at different parts throughout the challenge. Once you do that enough, you start to get familiar with the constant refrains that pop up at different points throughout a challenge.
In every race I’ve run, as long as I’ve trained properly, I’ve found that the real work is in my head – not my legs.
But plenty of well trained athletes still quit, DNF or give up early because they can’t get their head on straight.
Sure everyone is amped at the starting line and for the few few miles – everything sort of sorts itself out. Chances are though, once you’re past the beginner’s high – the real work of what you’re about to do sets in.
- In the Antarctica 100k, it was after “marathon #1”
- In Finland, it was the first time I ran out of water.
- In Hell on the Hill – it’s like hill 15 (I hate that damn hill)
You’re a few hours into the challenge and you think to yourself:
“How the hell am I going to finish this?”
This can go only two ways.. You can use that as fuel to finish or you can let it start a downward spiral.
Most people do the second part. The head game starts. They get lost in the bigness of their goals. It feels bewildering, they lose sight of the finish line and they give up before they’re even really getting started.
The important thing to remember is that you don’t need to it all right away.
You just need to do half of it. Or 51% to be exact.
The 51% Strategy
The key to doing any endurance activity is simply committing to doing 51% of it. When you do that, you unlock a switch in your brain that lets you do the rest.
Humans are bad at comprehending numbers.
- At 10%, you don’t have any frame of reference for the challenge.
- At 25%, it still seems like a lot especially as you’re starting to feel tired.
- At 50%, you have to do all of what you just did, and you have to do it again.
But – if you do 51% – then you no longer even have to do double of what you just did. Your mental talk can change from “I have to do this all over again” to “I have already done more than what’s left to do.”
At 51%, you’ve already done more than what’s required to finish – you’ve proven that in this race alone – so you just need to somehow manage to do that again.
In other words – “it’s all downhill from here.”
From there on out, you just gotta hang on.
After that, The 51-79% sucks. It’s tough. But, you know you have less to do than what you’ve already done. This part is 100% mental. You just need to bite your tongue, put your head down, and keep going.
By the time you hit 80%, you’re almost home, you just need to cruise on in.
If you’ve done your training, 51% should be no problem. What’s stopping you from there is not your body, but your mind.
You’re not going to be able to go run a 100 miler on no training (so start training), but so many people lose or quit races, challenges or other things in life because their mental game is nowhere near their physical game.
When you get to 51%, you get a mental refueling station and can reset your brain, renew your vision, and keep going.
This is just one trick you can add to your arsenal. Try it out.
This article is about endurance challenges, but has nothing to do with endurance.