When it comes to running tough races, you eventually get to a point where it’s all mind over matter. Your legs hurt, you’re exhausted, and you just want to quit. This is when your emotional …
My name is Patrick McGilvray, and I’m an experienced marathoner, ultra runner, Sports Nutritionist, Master Life Coach, and weight loss coach for runners. I’ve dedicated my life to helping runners just like you properly fuel your body and your mind. So you can get leaner, get stronger, run faster, and run longer than you ever thought possible. This is Running Lean.
Hey there, and welcome to episode 198 of Running Lean. My name is Patrick McGilvray, The Weight Loss Coach for Runners and today I’m talking about increasing your emotional tolerance.
So when it comes to running tough races, you eventually get to this point where it’s kind of mind over matter, right? Your legs hurt, you’re exhausted, you’re ready to give up. This is when your emotional toughness game really has to be on point, you know, or at least you think that you can physically keep going.
But there’s this emotional state that is trying to convince you that you need to stop right now. Like it’s just time to quit, right. And this emotional toughness or emotional tolerance is also required when you want to do other tough things in your life, like not eating the pizza when everybody around you is eating the pizza.
So today’s podcast is all about increasing your emotional tolerance. So you’re better armed to tough it out when things get tough, which they always seem to do. And if you want a little bit of help getting started with everything that I teach here on the podcast, when it comes to losing weight as a runner, being able to keep the weight off for good, not trying to outrun a bad diet, improving your strength, improving your endurance, improving your speed as a runner. And being able to make all of these changes last for good.
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Just go to runningleancoaching.com, that’s my website, and click on Free Training. And by the way, it’s free if I didn’t say that it’s free, the training is free. I’ve put together this free training about an hour long. It goes over everything that I teach you on the podcast, definitely check it out runningleancoaching.com and then click on Free Training. Cool.
Okay, so let’s get into this idea of increasing your emotional tolerance. So the first thing to understand is that running is an emotional sport, right? We have all experienced a wide variety of emotions, when we’ve set out to train for a hard event, whether it’s a 5k, or half marathon, marathon, ultra marathon, whatever it is, there’s a there’s going to be a point during some tough race, there are some tough events that you’ve been training for, where it gets emotional.
And during running, there’s this physical toughness about it running, you know, I mean, you got to develop the endurance and develop the speed and develop the strength to be able to, you know, tough it out for 13 miles or 26 miles or whatever.
But then there’s also that emotional toughness, and you’ve probably already developed some emotional toughness, you’ve developed some emotional badass notes, you know, when it comes to running, because I hear from people all the time who tell me, they can sign up for a race and they go and they run their fastest race.
And there’s a point in that race where it becomes really hard. And they want to give up and they want to quit, but there’s this emotional resilience that they have that’s keeping them going. And I’m using the word emotional resilience or emotional toughness as opposed to mental toughness, because I think it is more emotional.
You know, the Mental Toughness part is like thinking, oh, I can do this. I think I can do this. I’m gonna keep going. But the emotional piece is like, you know, that feeling of like not wanting to be a failure. And like, I really just want to give up, I want to quit right now and curl up into a ball and cry right now.
I definitely have experienced that when it comes to running. So I think that as runners, we have developed some emotional toughness around running around certain events. When it comes to something like food, though, what happens there? Why is this so much different for us?
There’s this idea that when it comes to food and changing your diet, let’s say you want to lose weight, and so you’re going to stop eating pizza every night and you’re going to stop eating junk food, you’re going to up eating ice cream for dessert every night, you’re gonna stop eating the french fries every day, whatever it is, there’s this idea that you have to be able to handle some discomfort.
Because when you make a change like that, I promise you, it’s going to be uncomfortable. There’s going to be moments, sometimes a lot of moments where things are going to get uncomfortable for you. And I talk to people all the time, and I say, listen, you got to be able to handle this discomfort, you know, we’re going to stop eating sugar, for example.
And it’s going to be, it’s going to be hard and you’re going to feel uncomfortable, you’re going to want the sugar, your body’s going to crave the sugar, your mind is going to crave the sugar, you’re going to get emotional about all this stuff.
But you got to just lean into that discomfort and not eat the sugar, and be able to accept that emotional discomfort. And people tell me all the time, yep, I got it. No problem, Patrick. And then in reality when that time comes, and they have to say no to the sugar, but they’re craving it and they give in, or they you know, curl up into a ball and cry. Because it’s really hard in the moment.
In theory, it sounds easy enough. But in reality, this is a tough thing to deal with, especially if you’re not used to doing it. If you’re somebody that’s used to eating sugar every day, and you’re going to quit eating sugar for a period of time, that’s going to be hard to do.
If you’re somebody that’s used to drinking alcohol every day, or most days, and then you’re going to give up alcohol for a period of time, that’s going to be hard to do. If you’re somebody that wants to give up eating pizza all the time, not eating the pizza is going to be hard to do.
And it’s an emotional attachment that we have to these foods. It’s an emotional attachment that we have to feeling good. So it’s much harder to not eat the pizza than it is to tough it out for a marathon. Isn’t that interesting. I think that’s kind of crazy in a way.
Like if I just told you like you gotta run a PR when your next marathon. And if you’re in good enough shape, and you’ve done the training, you’re gonna get to a place during that race where it’s gonna be tough, and you’re gonna have to like put on that emotional badass rehab of yours, and you’ll be able to get through it.
But then when I say like, Hey, don’t eat pizza. Tomorrow night, when everybody else is eating pizza around you. That’s hard. It’s like harder for a lot of people, right? It’s interesting to me. So what is this? Is this a lack of willpower? You just don’t have enough willpower? Is it a lack of discipline? Are you just not disciplined enough? Was it a lack of desire? Do you not want it bad enough?
I don’t think it’s any of those things. I think it’s just an emotional tolerance issue more than anything else. So I’m going to ask you this question. What are you willing to feel? Seriously ask yourself that question, what are you willing to feel? What emotions are you willing to accept and just to feel?
You know, emotions we feel in our body, emotions, negative emotions, positive emotions, we feel them in our body, they feel like vibrations in our body, thoughts we experience in our minds and our heads. It’s very mental. It’s very heavy. But emotions we feel in our bodies like this vibration in our body. Some are good, some are not so good. Some feel good, some feel bad.
Anytime you use the word ‘feel’ to describe something that’s an emotional experience, we feel our emotions. Okay, for running, we feel physical pain, we feel physical suffering around food. It’s like emotional pain and emotional suffering. But what if you were willing to feel everything, especially the tough emotions.
Some of these emotions that we experience are deemed as negative emotions. And we don’t want to feel them. We’re taught at an early age that we don’t want to feel bad, we only want to feel good. And so our entire lives, we are chasing good feelings and running away from bad feelings.
So we do things like eat to feel better. We drink alcohol to feel better. We shop, gamble, do drugs, whatever, just because we want to feel better, even though we know those things are not good for us. But we chase after the good feeling. Because we don’t want to experience the bad feeling.
We run away from anything that feels bad, and we run towards anything that feels good. But if you want to change your diet, and you want to stick to a healthy eating plan, you’re going to have to experience some bad feelings.
But if you’re so conditioned to feel good all the time, then it’s going to feel like something is wrong. When you experience that bad feeling. So you’re sitting there at the table. Everybody’s eating pizza, and you’re like, oh my God, I feel bad right now. I don’t fit, this doesn’t feel right.
This feels like there’s something wrong, and I just got to feel better right now. And so you just grabbed the pizza and you start eating and you go, yeah, there we go. Now I feel good.
Don’t tell me you haven’t done that. Because we all have, we have all been there, you’re trying to stick to your diet, but then something happens everybody else is indulging in ice cream, pizza, whatever. And you just go for it, you just dig in, and you feel so much better. Right?
Because it feels good. Feels good to eat that stuff. Here’s the thing, though. Human beings, we are designed to feel all sorts of emotions, all sorts of stuff, right? Some feel good, and some feel bad. And I’m gonna say it’s about 50/50. And that’s the way life is designed. Life is supposed to be 50/50. It doesn’t feel good all the time.
But anytime we feel any kind of negative emotion and we go running away from it, we’re typically running into or chasing after something that is probably not good for us. So we have to accept this fact that life is 50/50 and that we’re gonna feel some negative emotions sometimes. And that’s okay, we’re gonna start, we got to start accepting, feeling bad sometimes.
That’s a crazy concept right there. Just accept that you’re going to feel bad sometimes. What? I know it’s bananas, right? A few years back. And I’ve talked about this before on the podcast here. But a few years back, I was going through a divorce. And this was tough for me. I’ve been with my second wife, that was my second wife, by the way, for like, nine years or whatever.
And we are going through this divorce. And we had been separated. And I was feeling terrible. Like, all the time. You know, I would wake up feeling terrible all day long, I’d feel kind of terrible. There were moments where I was okay. But I mean, I just felt bad a lot. It was tough to go to sleep at night, I was having all these crazy thoughts. And my mind was just racing and all these negative emotions.
Emotionally, I was a wreck. I felt terrible for a long time, for months. But here’s what I did. I, well, I tried to make it go away. And I was using food at the time to try to make it all go away. And I was working with a coach. And I just wanted to feel better. I was working with this coach. And she asked me a question.
At one point, she just said like, why do you think you shouldn’t feel bad? Why do you think you should feel any differently than you do? And I didn’t have an answer for that. I mean, I just, it doesn’t feel good to feel bad, right?
She’s like, yeah, but that right there, like just understanding that what you’re going through is tough, and it’s going to feel bad. And just having the acceptance around. That is what you need to wrap your head around, not trying to feel better, not trying to make the bad feelings go away.
But to accept the feelings, that was a game changer. For me, this changed my perspective on life and emotions and, and so much stuff. And we were just taught that we have to have like a positive attitude and think good thoughts and smile, and everything’s gonna be okay.
And like, no, everything was shit, you know, it was like, not good. And I just had to accept that and just be willing to feel bad. When I accepted this as my reality. And I sort of leaned into the negative emotions of, you know, going through this divorce. I did get through it much quicker. And I stopped having to use food to make myself feel better.
When you stop chasing feeling good all the time everything can change for you, because you’re no longer running away from the negative emotions. Because when you do that, listen, you’re running away from 50% of your life. You’re no longer afraid to feel bad. You can handle anything that comes your way, you become an emotional badass.
So this issue around food, and not wanting to feel uncomfortable at the table when everybody else is eating the pizza up. Think about this. What if you were just willing to feel bad for a little while? What if you’re willing to feel, you know, the desire for the pizza but not eat it? That’s uncomfortable. That’s an uncomfortable feeling, right?
But what if you were just willing to lean into that? What if you were having this craving and this urge to just like eat the pizza and just dig into it, but you didn’t give into that. That’s gonna feel terrible.
But you would get through that meal, and you would feel so much better about yourself. And then you would build a little bit of trust in yourself and a little bit of confidence that you can do this. And then the next time this happens, you’d get through that meal the same way and you’d build a little bit more trust and a little bit more confidence in yourself.
And listen, this doesn’t feel good. I’m not trying to Candy Coat anything here for you. This is a process that actually feels bad. Feeling negative emotions does not feel good. But it is important, I would say it is one of the most important things you can do for yourself.
If you want to change, if there’s anything that you’re going after that is tough, that’s going to take a while, like losing weight, changing your diet, not eating junk food, or even, you know, running that marathon. Those things all require some emotional tolerance, you have to be able to tolerate experiencing all these different emotions.
Now, there’s also the positive side of this, there are good emotions that you feel when you accomplish these goals. Or when you do something, when you feel good about yourself, I hear this all the time from my clients. They say, Oh my gosh, Patrick, I can’t believe I, they had, you know, brought all these doughnuts and bagels or whatever, into the break room. And I just didn’t eat them. And I felt good about myself.
And we call that a win. We call that a victory, you know, you won the day because you didn’t give in to the negative emotions. And that feels great, it feels great to do that. When you tough it out for that marathon and you cross the finish line. And you see that number on the clock and you just PR’d your marathon, that feels amazing. That’s, that’s joyous. That is an amazing elation that you feel.
So you can experience the positive emotions as well. But a lot of times it requires that we are willing to experience the negative ones. And then I remember a couple of marathons that I’ve PR’d or you know, 10K’s or half marathons, whatever. And those were very tough. And there were times when it was very challenging and extremely emotional and very hard and felt like quitting and all that.
And then at the end, crossing the finish line and accomplishing that goal, there was this release of positive emotion, it was just amazing. I actually cried, tears coming out my face, like it was so joyous, like blissful to feel that because I went through, you know, I went through the gauntlet, I did the hard things, I put in the work, I experienced all the negative emotions so I could experience the joy of victory.
You know, the same thing happens when we want to change our diet and stick to healthy eating, we have to go through the gauntlet, sometimes, you know, this isn’t forever. And this isn’t like something that’s gonna like last for months and months and months.
A lot of times we can break these addictions to sugar or junk food in around 30 days or so. But 30 days of like feeling some negative emotions can be kind of tough. You know, that’s why I do what I do as a coach. And I don’t just hand people a document and say, here’s what you do that just do the things on this list. And you’ll be fine. Because we need to talk through what they’re experiencing, we need to talk through how to get through some of those tough times and how to lean into those negative emotions.
So this is your work for this week. It is to allow yourself to experience negative emotions, allow yourself to experience you know what we would call bad feelings, don’t run away from them, lean into them, be willing to experience it all.
Remember, life is 50/50. Half the time you’re going to feel good half the time you’re going to feel bad. Don’t run away from that 50% that feels “bad”. Something else that happens over time when you do this, the bad feelings don’t feel that bad, they become more neutral.
When you’re willing to experience negative emotions and you do this on the regular and you get good at it. They become less emotionally charged, they don’t become so powerful, they become more neutral. This is what I call becoming an emotional badass.
So you build up this emotional tolerance, feeling bad becomes more and more acceptable and more neutral and easier for you to handle, then you can do anything you want. Because you’re willing to experience the negative emotions. You’re willing to experience the whole swath of emotions that we all experience as human beings and you’re not running away from half of your life.
Okay, I know you can do this. But if you want some help, I’m always here for you. Okay, we can talk about coaching, just head over to my website runningleancoaching.com and click on Work With Me. Fill out an application, we can get on a Zoom call. We can talk about coaching, what it looks like. I’ll answer all of your questions. We’ll see if this is a good fit for you. Coo.l
Okay, you guys got this I know you do and that’s all I got for you today. Love you all, keep on Running Lean and I’ll talk to you soon.