In the world of ultra-endurance sports, mental toughness is an essential attribute for success. It is the ability to remain consistent in the face of challenges or to quickly recover from setbacks and adversity. This article will explore what mental toughness is, how to develop it, and how to apply it to your training and competition.
What is mental toughness?
Mental toughness is a psychological attribute that enables an individual to persevere through difficult situations and achieve their goals. It is a combination of cognitive and emotional resilience, self-efficacy, and a willingness to embrace challenges. 
Developing mental toughness
Mental toughness can be developed through a variety of techniques. One way is to practice positive thinking, which involves focusing on the positive aspects of a situation and reframing negative thoughts. Anxiety control techniques, such as deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation, can also help develop mental toughness by reducing stress and anxiety. Visualization, setting goals, and attentional control are other methods that can improve mental toughness. Developing mental toughness requires self-awareness and commitment. 
Applying mental toughness to endurance sports
Endurance sports such as ultramarathons require a high level of mental toughness to succeed. Endurance athletes must be able to cope with fatigue, pain, and discomfort while maintaining focus and motivation. One way to develop mental toughness in endurance sports is to focus on the process rather than the outcome. This means setting goals based on effort rather than performance and focusing on the journey rather than the destination. Another way to develop mental toughness is to cultivate a growth mindset, which involves embracing challenges and learning from failures. Finally, developing mental toughness requires a commitment to training, recovery, and self-care. 
Master Resilience Training
The US Army’s Master Resilience Training (MRT) program is designed to develop resilience in soldiers both during and outside of combat. The program originated from the Penn Resilience Program (PRP), which targeted depression prevention in soldiers. The MRT program includes a 10-day course that focuses on building mental toughness and resilience through a variety of techniques, including positive thinking, goal setting, and stress management. 
The Mental Toughness Scale
The Mental Toughness Scale (MTS) is a tool used to measure an individual’s level of mental toughness. It was developed to assess mental toughness in athletes, but can also be applied to other contexts. The MTS measures an individual’s ability to cope with stress, manage emotions, and remain focused under pressure. The development of the MTS is an ongoing process, with new versions being developed to meet the needs of different populations. 
Mind over matter techniques
There are several mind over matter techniques that can help develop mental toughness. Meditation, visualization, and setting intentions are effective methods for reducing stress and increasing focus. Talking to yourself and practising self-affirmation can help build self-confidence and resilience. Changing habits and removing temptations can also help develop mental toughness by cultivating discipline and willpower.
Mind Over Matter Inspirational Shorts for Mental Toughness
If you’re looking for a quick boost of inspiration, there are several “mind over matter” inspirational shorts available online that can help you build mental toughness. These short videos and podcasts typically focus on stories of individuals who have overcome adversity through mental toughness and provide practical tips for building resilience. One example is the “Thought Alchemist” YouTube channel, which offers short, motivational videos for developing mental toughness.
Mental toughness is an essential attribute for success in endurance sports and other challenging situations. It can be developed through a variety of techniques, including positive thinking, visualization, goal setting, and attentional control. The US Army’s Master Resilience Training program and the Mental Toughness Scale are two tools that can help individuals develop and measure their level of mental toughness. By practising mind over matter techniques and focusing on the process rather than the outcome, individuals can cultivate the mental toughness needed to achieve their goals.