When you think about “endurance”, what comes to mind? Since you’re most likely a runner, your mind probably conjures up images of slogging out miles and miles on the roads or trails. And you’d …
161. The Other Side of Endurance
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 161 of Running Lean. My name is Patrick McGilvray, the weight loss coach for runners. Today I’m talking about the other side of endurance. So, when you think about endurance, what comes to mind, since you’re most likely a runner listening to this podcast, your mind probably conjures up images of slogging out a bunch of miles on the roads or on the trails, and you’d be correct.
Building this kind of physical endurance is one of the keys to being a healthy fit human being. But there’s another side of endurance one that doesn’t get discussed much. This other type of endurance is one of the most valuable life skills that you need to learn and master. So today, I’m going to explain exactly what this other side of endurance actually is, and why it’s so important to you becoming your most badass self.
But first, listen to this. Most people, even runners think that gaining weight is just a fact of life. And I understand why the average American gains an average of one to two pounds of fat per year from early adulthood through middle age. And even if you’re an avid runner, you’re not immune to these stats. The reason most people gain weight isn’t that they’re, you know, they’re not trying hard enough, or they don’t track their food properly, or they’re not running enough.
People gain weight because they’re eating what they think is a healthy diet. But it’s actually not, you know, you’ve probably been told to eat this high carbohydrate diet full of cereal grains and sugars and industrial seed oils based on the food pyramid or my plate or whatever the hell they’re calling it these days. And it just doesn’t work, right?
So listen, it’s not your fault. You’re just doing what you’ve been told to do, but it just doesn’t work at all. Okay, continually gaining weight as you age is not a fact of life, it’s actually something you can control with the right approach. In my unique weight loss coaching program for runners, I’ll put together a personalized plan that works for you based off of your goals, your personality, your lifestyle, your likes and dislikes.
And then I’ll help you stick to that plan so that you can actively hit all of your weight loss and your running goals. And all you have to say is Patrick, yes, I’m ready. Let’s do this. To learn more and apply for coaching, just go to runningleancoaching.com/apply. And you can get started right away.
Alright, let’s talk about the other side of endurance. So most people, especially runners understand what endurance means. And of course, we’re talking about sort of that physical side of endurance, right? If you’re a long-distance runner, building endurance means being able to run longer, being able to run farther, pushing the limits of how long you can last out there on the roads or the trails, right. And I’ve done this many times.
When I first started running many years ago, I could run like a mile. And I didn’t think I could ever run three miles without having to like stop and like completely catch my breath. And so I didn’t think I could ever run like a 5k until I did. And then I never thought I could run a 10k. And I remember training myself to run three miles and four miles and five miles, and then finally being able to run 10k, and so I did that. And then I just kind of skipped the whole half marathon thing and then just went from the 10k straight to the marathon. That’s just me, but I didn’t think I would be able to run a marathon.
Never in my life was somebody who was like, oh, yeah, you know, go run a marathon. I was drinking and smoking cigarettes and eating the crap diet and I was way overweight. And in those days, there was no way I thought, you know, if or be capable of running a marathon, but then I did. BTdubs, I you know, quit drinking and quit smoking and quit eating junk food and stuff like that.
And as part of this whole process of being a long distance runner it’s really hard to like smoke cigarettes and be a long distance runner at the same time, just so you know. But then I pushed myself even farther, 50k, 50 mile, 100 mile. So I’ve constantly pushed myself to see what I’m capable of, how much endurance can I handle?
And so over the years, I’ve actively built my endurance. So how do you build your endurance physically, right? You have got to improve your cardiovascular system, right, you have to build that aerobic engine. And one of the ways to do this is just to run a lot and run a lot of miles and continually increase the miles that you’re running.
And you’ve got to do this the right way, you don’t want to injure yourself, you don’t want to increase your mileage too, too much too soon. So increase your mileage slowly. But over the years, I was able to increase my ability to endure while running. Right. And this means that you’re more aerobically fit, this means you can get out there and you can run longer distances. And you’ve really built a strong aerobic engine, right?
So we kind of understand this whole idea of endurance from that standpoint, right. There’s a couple other things about building endurance that you may not have thought about, maybe you do know some of these things. But getting more aerobic than fit also helps you physically in other ways, for example, you know, you get this improved cardiovascular health.
So your whole cardio cardiovascular system, your body’s ability to pump blood through your system and you know, pump blood to working muscles, and deliver oxygen to working muscles improves dramatically, you can lower your blood pressure. So regular aerobic activity helps to lower blood pressure is why most experienced runners tend to have pretty low blood pressure which helps you to regulate blood sugar.
So improving your cardiovascular system helps regulate insulin levels to keep blood sugar normal. Improving your aerobic engine also helps improve sleep. They did some studies, and they’ve showed that people that who exercise aerobically regularly have better sleep quality and and better duration of sleep. And then obviously, better sleep means less stress.
So, you’ll be more likely to lose weight as well, which is awesome. Having a strong aerobic engine means that you have a strengthened immune system, because being more cardiovascularly fit increases the amount of antibodies in the blood, these antibodies are called immunoglobulins, which is just a fun word to say.
So you get a stronger immune system, you get improved cognitive function, you know, having a better aerobic engine helps to boost brain power. And it helps slow the brain deterioration as you age. And I love this one so much: it makes you feel happier. Improving your aerobic engine will help stave off the feelings of depression, and boost your mood almost immediately and make you feel happier. So you get this immediate mood boost when you do some aerobic activity. I think we’ve probably all experienced that. Right?
So there’s lots of reasons why we want to improve our aerobic engine, why we want to become more aerobically fit, why wouldn’t we want to build our endurance, right? Endurance is about going longer. And just a little sidebar on this. The preferred fuel source for long distance aerobic activity is fat. So when you switch up your nutrition regimen, and you get fat adapted, this is going to greatly improve your body’s ability to burn fat, which means you’ll improve that aerobic engine even more, you’ll become sort of an endurance badass, right?
Fat is an amazing source of fuel for endurance athletes. So the longer you’re fat adapted, the more efficient you become at utilizing fat as fuel, the more your endurance improves. So just understand that, you know, one of the reasons why we switch our diet and get off of all the carbs and all the sugars and all that junk food is that we want to just create a much more efficient fat burning machine in ourselves, right? So just understand that that whole idea of becoming fat adapted has a lot to do with being able to run longer distances being able to endure longer. Okay.
So physical endurance, like we’ve been talking about, like being able to run long distances. It’s important, right? It’s vital to your life if you want to be a healthy, happy human being. But there’s another side to endurance that most runners and a lot of running coaches and people in general don’t really talk about. And that is not the physical endurance required for running hours and hours, but rather, this is the mental and emotional endurance that’s required for accomplishing just about anything that’s worthwhile. Okay?
When we talk about challenge of accomplishing big goals, big goals are challenging, right? If they were easy, everyone would do it, right. That’s why we call these big goals because they are hard, right? An example would be like losing weight and keeping it off for good, or starting your own business, or qualifying for Boston, or passing the bar, or maintaining a healthy, happy relationship with your partner.
All of these things are hard. They all present big challenges. And they all take a while, sometimes years to achieve, you know, I know, people who have been trying to qualify for Boston for years, they’ve put in a lot of hard work to do that. And it’s really hard sometimes to achieve these things, right? Nothing worthwhile comes easy. We have to remember that, right?
It’s the challenges that change us. It’s the challenges we overcome, in the process of going after these big goals that cause us to grow, to evolve, to level up to become those badass runners that we want to become. So, you have to understand that big goals come with big challenges, right?
In order to achieve these things, you have to develop that other kind of endurance, the mental and emotional endurance that’s required to get you through those big challenges. Another way of saying this, another word for this mental and emotional endurance would be mental toughness. Mental Toughness is your ability to endure all of the challenges, all of the stressors that come along with, you know, accomplishing something big.
Mental Toughness is what’s going to keep you going when the going gets tough. And it always does, the going always gets tough, right? Mental Toughness is actually something you probably do already, because it’s required for running, especially running long distances, right? You need mental toughness to get across the finish line. Because sometimes, you know, there’s this point during a race, it could be a hard 5k, or a half marathon, full marathon or ultra, whatever, there’s going to be a time during that event where your body just wants to quit, your body is like this is not a good idea what we’re doing here, your body’s going to tell you this is not something I want to keep doing; your mind has to override your body at that point. That’s mental toughness.
Your mind has to override the pain and the misery that you’re experiencing. Your mind has to override that natural tendency that your brain has to just seek pleasure, seek pleasure and avoid pain to seek comfort and avoid discomfort. That’s mental toughness, right? That ability to override what your body is trying to tell you in that in those moments, right. So mental toughness is required for running, it’s required for being able to finish a marathon or qualify for Boston or to like I said, lose weight and be able to keep it off for good. It’s, it’s required for all these things that are hard that are challenging for us.
Mental Toughness separates the finishers from the quitters, the people that quit, give up, not mentally tough. The people who stick with it no matter what, mentally tough, they have built that mental and emotional endurance. So this mental emotional endurance, it’s required to achieve any kind of goal that you want for yourself, right. And I mentioned an example of like losing weight and keeping it off for good, this is hard to do.
This is why I coach on this. It’s not something that is easy to do. If it was easy, you wouldn’t need me you probably wouldn’t be listening to this right now. So what would this look like? So having this kind of endurance, developing this kind of endurance is mental toughness means that, you know, let’s say you want to lose 50 pounds, right? It means you’re gonna have to develop a food plan, you’re gonna have to develop a nutrition plan that fits your lifestyle that also helps you achieve your running goals because, you know, we got to be able to do both.
You know, this isn’t about like restricting calories like crazy or doing the cabbage soup diet or something like that, right? You got to focus on protein, you gotta get enough fat in your diet. Like we got to make sure that we’re focusing on the right kinds of carbs and things like that. So we’re gonna put a plan together and then that mental toughness is required for you to stick to that plan.
That mental and emotional endurance is required. If you want to stick to your plan every day, no matter what. It means you’ve developed the endurance to stay on track. Even when it’s hard, even when no one’s watching you, even when you’re having a bad day, even when you’re just stressed out, or when you just don’t feel like it.
That mental toughness means you’re willing to do the hard things, and you do them consistently. That doesn’t mean that this is always hard, it doesn’t mean that sticking to your plan is always hard. There are times when it is hard, though. But you don’t quit. You don’t quit because you’re tired, you don’t quit because you don’t feel like it, you only quit when you’re done.
So that’s what we mean by building that mental toughness, that other side of endurance. And what it really means is that you are being in integrity with yourself. So you’re actually doing what you said you’re going to do. So what most people do is this, they say they’re going to eat right. And they don’t, most people say they’re going to run consistently. And they don’t. Most people say they’re going to you know, they join a gym and they say they’re gonna go to the gym three times a week.
And then by February 1, they stopped going all together, because they made this New Year’s resolution that said they were going to go to the gym three times a week. So they join that gym that had the great special going. And then they quit. This is not being in integrity with yourself, right? This is the opposite of that. Being in integrity with yourself means that your actions, the things you do, your actions are in alignment with your goals.
So if you want to lose weight, you stop eating junk food, and you stick to that plan. You don’t occasionally eat a bunch of junk food, you don’t binge out on junk food, you don’t, you know, swing by Wednesdays on your way home from work just because you’re having this craving, right? You act in alignment with your goals.
Your goals are, I’m not eating junk food, I want to lose this weight, I want to keep it off, I want to change my whole relationship with food, stop eating junk food, I want this to be a thing of the past, then you need to stick with that plan. That’s what it means to be in alignment in integrity with yourself. Your actions are in alignment with your goals, right? This is simple, right?
Not being in integrity is when your actions are not in alignment with your goals. So you want to lose weight. You know, you got to stop eating the junk food, but you keep eating the french fries and the pizza and ice cream. And you keep guzzling all those post run beers with the running group, I see you out there.
These actions are not in alignment with your goal to lose weight, right they are, they are going to keep your body packing on the pounds. So you’re going to keep packing on weight if you keep acting that way. So that’s not being in alignment with yourself that is not being in integrity with yourself. And this idea of being in integrity with yourself, it requires mental toughness. Because it’s hard to stick to your plan.
It’s hard to not eat the french fries, it’s hard to not eat the pizza, it’s hard to not drink all those beers after a run. It’s hard to eat right and do it consistently. But this is the work that you have to do. You have to learn how to develop this mental toughness not just for running. But for every goal that you have for yourself, everything that is important to you. That’s just like another type of training that you have to do. Right, you want to run longer distances.
So you train your body to run longer, you continually push yourself a little bit you build up your mileage, you improve your cardiovascular system, you improve that aerobic engine, and you keep doing the training so that you can build that endurance for running so for running longer and longer distances. Well, you have to build mental and emotional endurance the exact same way.
So with all my clients, we work on this we work on developing mental toughness. We work on developing the emotional and mental endurance required to help them stick to their plan to help them to stay on track to keep them moving in the direction of their goals to keep them making progress toward their weight loss goals and their running goals to so we work on doing the hard stuff of consistently acting in alignment with their goals.
And here’s the thing I wish I could tell you that this was super are easy, and it doesn’t take much time. And you’ll get it right away. And you’ll never fail. And it’ll be perfect. I wish I could say all that. But that is not the case at all. This is the hard work that we do. And sometimes this takes a while. You know, I mentioned someone that was trying to qualify for Boston has been trying for years. And they keep trying, they’re not going to give up. And you know what, they’re going to accomplish that at some point, because they’re not giving up.
Here’s the thing I have to say about this, though, this is probably the most rewarding work that you can possibly do for yourself. When you work to build mental and emotional endurance, then there’s almost nothing that you won’t be able to accomplish. You’ll set your mind to accomplish some huge, quote unquote, like impossible goal, something that today feels too big for you to too huge, it’s impossible for who you are today. And then what you’re going to do is you’re going to get busy doing the work required to get you there. And then staying on track with that plan, it’s not going to be a question. There’s no question.
Of course, you’re gonna stay on the track, of course, you’re gonna stay on the plan, because that’s what you do now. That’s who you have become, you’ve become a mental toughness, badass. You’ve developed the mental and emotional endurance you need to stay on track no matter what. And that big, huge impossible goal will be possible for you someday.
So, improving endurance. Improving your endurance means you improve your cardiovascular system so you can run longer, yes; but it also means building the mental and emotional toughness required to stick to the plan so that you can accomplish hard things like being able to lose weight, once and for all and keep it off for good.
Yes, endurance will help you continually improve your overall health and fitness, you’ll be able to run longer be fitter, you’ll even be happier. But when you think of endurance, I want you to think about this other side of endurance, the mental and emotional endurance, the mental toughness, and start building that along with your ability to run longer, start training yourself to develop that kind of endurance, okay, because that mental toughness will enable you to confidently accomplish anything you set your mind to. Cool. All right, that’s all I got for you today. Love you all. Keep on Running Lean, and I will talk to you soon.
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