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Mental resilience and creating a calloused strong mindset.

I have spent years running a business and competing in endurance sports. I have developed a gift for not listening to the doubt in my mind and believing that 100% I am going to achieve what I have set out to do. I thought I would share with you how it is that I do it. Now, this does not mean that I am successful, yet, but I am on the road towards success and I will achieve my goals. 

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Mental resilience is something that I have spent literally years perfecting in some of those years the resilience comes to you. When resilience comes to you this is the process of the mind becoming more calloused. When something traumatic happens the mind callouses, as a result, you learn from it and as a result, when it happens again you do not feel the effects of the trauma in the same way, you have built up a resistance.  (David Goggins - You Can't Hurt Me)

My personal interest in this started several years ago when I took up endurance sports. Please bear with me I am not much of a storyteller! Now when you take part in endurance events they are different from anything else, you learn how to control your mind and your body in synergy, this is not just about training your body to compete it is also about training your mind to withstand. The more you put yourself through hell the more you learn that it is not that bad.  

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The Slateman Bike (I'm on the left)

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Squirrel Edge 

Me at the top of Helvellyn one of my favourite mountain triathlons  

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I purposely try to choose things that will push me to the edge of my capabilities and then I push even harder. Just to make it clear I am not an elite athlete more just a very curious one. As I said this started several years ago, I chose to do triathlons because I was rubbish at swimming, I was a sinker; several years of weight training, powerlifting and rugby had left me with a set of glutes and thighs that sank like a stone. I started off on my own I swam in the pool at the spa through the winter, I struggled with any more than 4 lengths at a time I could not breathe in the water and my stroke was awful, when it came to the spring I bought a wetsuit and got outside in a local lake.  The first swim was a disaster I was still struggling with anything over 100m and the water was cold in April, cold deep and black with fish in it! I swam all of 10m got out and went home. What had I got so wrong? The first thing was to look at it objectively and I knew I needed to learn to swim, properly. I joined Lincoln tri club. Over the course of the summer and then the winter I spent time learning a new skill I was a year before I got in the lake again but when I did I could swim and I was pretty good, for a sinker! My second attempt was a lot easier I was thinking the worst but because I had sorted out the swimming all I had to go on was the mental game with the blacker deeper water. However, I was ready for it to be horrible and it was actually just a little cold and uncomfortable which I could deal with. This is the mind forming a callous, my mind was expecting it to be bad but I was ready for that... 

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How did I form the callous? Well at the time I didn't know, it is years of asking questions and trial and error that has got me to the point I am now at, but essentially what I did was I gave myself a hard time. Endurance is not about pussyfooting around the subject it is about getting in deep and actually been a little disrespectful to yourself.  Callousing is about been tough, about building a machine and it takes time. We are not talking about self-deification here that is not useful, not to anyone, it is about been brutally honest with yourself.  I can not use the exact words that I told myself as that would not be appropriate in a day spa blog but I can tell you that I held myself responsible for my actions. I was taking clear accountable direction with what I was telling myself. For example; you can do this, they are only fish, they are not going to eat you, yes it's black water but you can swim so you don't need to see the bottom, you have to do this if you want to compete.  This is a process that requires practice, it feels a little strange at the outset but it is necessary along with lots of other tools that help you to compete but we will talk about these in more detail as we go through things. Just to prove it works before I leave you to think about it, a couple of years later this sinker that was terrified of deep water and could not stand the cold actually won a Brutal Bear cold water swim race. I'm going to talk lots about mindset over the coming months because I have a genuine interest in this area. I studied sports science and sports psychology at University and I practice what I preach. I put myself in uncomfortable situations in order to obtain enlightenment, for research purposes and to see what I am truly capable of, which never ceases to amaze me. In short, I think I can help, not only that, I would like to, it's my job! 

Exiting a swim 

Swim exit at the "Brutal" Half Ironman

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Matt will be crossing Wales in a Day in September of this year in aid of Don't Lose Hope, a Mental Health Charity based down the road in Bourne Lincolnshire. Swansea to Caernarfon is 271km and 4600m of climbing and he is doing it on his own (With a small support crew of 1 to help keep him fed and watered).