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Mental Endurance

  • SETTING THE STAGE
  • ERIC CHAMP
  • TONY NASH
  • Alex Fichtler
  • RECAP

INTRODUCTION

As athletes, our focus often lies primarily in improving our physical strength. However, solely building up our athletic capabilities is useless if we aren’t also training the mental support system that allows us to reach our physical peak.

Ultimately, from powerlifting to ultra marathons to rucking, our most challenging fitness endeavors are stopped not by a lack of physical skill, but instead by our ability to endure mental strife. However, when we commit to conquering challenges and not letting mental blocks stand in the way, our ability to dig in, tap into our unseen strength, and press through exhaustion separates success from failure. That’s why this month, we’re focusing on mental endurance. It’s time to kick summer malaise in the ass and fully commit to going all out and becoming a more mentally strong athlete.

THE CHALLENGE

Over the next month, we want you to commit to push through your own challenge. Whether it’s resolving to hit a PR, to run a record number of miles, or to become more present at the end of the workday, find something that matters to you – and start tracking it. Make it something that you care about, that you can repeat day in and day out, and that will be difficult for you to achieve. This isn’t about doing 100 push-ups a day because it sounds good or because you think you can do it. It’s about finding a challenge that will push you to your mental limit, require sacrifice and hard work, and feel satisfying to complete every single day of the month.

You won’t be putting in the work alone. Throughout the month, you’ll be working alongside three Ten Thousand athletes who are going to conquer their own challenges and commit to working toward a goal that pushes them to their limit. With our military members and veterans among the mentally strongest people in the world, we’ve tapped three such individuals to help you along this journey and to lead by example. These Marine Corps vets, ex-Navy SEALs, and active-duty service members embody what it means to commit to a life of mental fortitude, and they’ll be putting in the work to come out the other side of their challenges even stronger than they were before.

ERIC CHAMP

Eric Champ is a former Marine Corps veteran who currently owns and operates the mobile gym company Champ City Holistic Fitness. This month, he’s committing to waking up at 4 a.m. every morning to push his mental limits, create lesson plans, enhance his business, and reach out to forward-deployed active duty service members.

TONY NASH

An active-duty major in the U.S. Army’s Field Artillery branch and current graduate student at Cornell University, Tony Nash will complete 500 meters of walking lunges per day. The walking lunges, which represent the common military practice of taking a knee, will be a daily practice that will force him to push deeper and further through hardship and adversity. Tony is committing to this challenge to embody everything that taking a knee means in the military: it’s a sign of respect that’s shown at a fallen brother or sister’s final resting place, a defensive maneuver used on patrol, a manner of gaining perspective, and a way to honor the 20 military personnel that succumb to suicide every day.

ALEX FICHTLER

Alex Fichtler is a former Navy SEAL who has served in Afghanistan and throughout Africa. This month, Alex will complete a daily one mile uphill and one mile downhill 100 lb sandbag carry. This challenge is part of his quest to honor the sacrifices all military veterans and active duty personnel alike make, the unseen weight they carry on a daily basis, and their commitment to always pushing forward – regardless of the obstacles that stand in their way.

REAP THE REWARDS

Committing to something that challenges you is a massive achievement, and we want to hear about your journey. Post an update on your progress during the month using #AllOutAugust, and we’ll send you a free pair of socks and a $25 gift card. Over the next month, we’ll be sharing your progress reports, letting the community know what you’re committing to, why you’re choosing to commit, and the improvements you’re spurring. Now’s the time to own up, take control, put yourself to the test, and commit to embodying mental fortitude every damn day.

INTRODUCTION

A Marine Corps veteran who owns and operates mobile gym company Champ City Fitness, Eric Champ was consistently finding himself underwater. As a small business owner and primary caretaker of his young daughter, Eric has struggled to ground his priorities in recent months, often falling short of devoting full attention to either his business or his daughter.

This August, Eric has set out to change that pattern. By waking up at 4 a.m. every day of the month, he’s committing to giving himself an extra hour every day to lesson plan for his daughter, push to get his business on a solid footing, practice self-care, and write letters to forward-deployed service troops. A believer that the only way to spur change is by committing to something that feels unattainable, Eric is building a framework for change not just for himself – but for his daughter, his business, and service members around the world as well. Using the extra time in the day that his new wakeup time will bring him, he is determined to complete as much work as he can prior to his daughter waking up so that he has the ability to spend time with her throughout the day with no distractions. In addition, knowing firsthand the importance of a morale boost when overseas, Eric will use his extra hour of the day to thank service members overseas for their service and show appreciation for the daunting task at hand.

However, he isn’t doing this alone. You still have three weeks left to join Eric and the rest of the Ten Thousand community as you commit to your own challenge, whether it’s working to change an aspect of your daily life or set a PR.

PROGRESS AND TIPS

Shifting his wakeup time to 4 a.m. will give Eric an 40 hours of additional time in August. While he usually wakes up at 5:15 a.m., Eric knows that every minute counts – and that the extra hour he will add onto his days will add up and give him more time to balance priorities, build his business, care for his daughter, and support troops overseas.

Eric will channel the lessons he learned from his Marine Corps service to ensure he clearly outlines his goals and sticks to his plan. During his time in the Marine Corps, he relied on BAMCIS during the preparation phase for his missions: Begin the planning; arrange for reconnaissance; make reconnaissance; complete the plan; issue the order; and supervise. This framework will continue to play a key role for Eric throughout August. “Over the course of the month, I will be channeling parts of these steps to ensure I am on track for a productive month,” he said.

 

In addition to relying on his Marines training to ensure he stays committed to a goal that will test his mental stamina, Eric is also adopting lifestyle changes that will ensure he remains present consistently. From going to bed as early as possible to cutting off the TV early, he is prioritizing recovery and shifting his schedule to ensure that he remains laser focused on his goal at hand. While he’s instituting these changes in his daily life to ensure he doesn’t lose sight of his ultimate goal, Eric knows it won’t be without challenges. “I know that heavy training days and late nights with my daughter will be especially difficult during the month,” he said. However, he remains committed to keeping his training intense and knows that the late nights are unavoidable. Ultimately, Eric knows that his biggest hurdle will be his ability to get the recovery he needs, and the lifestyle changes he’s making and the military mindset he’s embodying are designed to ensure he remains focused throughout the entire month.

Now ten days into the challenge, Eric has been faced with the difficulty of changing a routine that he had kept for so long. “As somebody who has been waking up naturally with no alarm clock between 5:15 and 5:25 a.m. for as long as I can remember, I'm completely rattled when the alarm clock goes off every morning,” he said. However, while changing a wakeup time that has been naturally occurring for so long has been difficult, Eric has remained motivated by focusing on the successes he’s already seen from the challenge. He’s spending more time with his daughter, getting ahead on his work, and writing the letters he promised he would – and he attributes a lot of this to committing to a new and daunting morning routine.

REAP THE REWARDS

Committing to something that challenges you is a massive achievement, and we want to hear about your journey. Post an update on your progress during the month using #AllOutAugust, and we’ll send you a free pair of socks and a $25 gift card. Over the next month, we’ll be sharing your progress reports, letting the community know what you’re committing to, why you’re choosing to commit, and the improvements you’re spurring. Now’s the time to own up, take control, put yourself to the test, and commit to embodying mental fortitude every damn day.

INTRODUCTION

For active-duty Major in the U.S. Army’s Field Artillery branch and current Cornell University graduate student Tony Nash, the lunge holds significant meaning. Rather than viewing it simply as a tool to be used to improve his physical fitness, Tony sees the foundational movement as an opportunity to honor the nation’s armed forces and the sacrifices they make to protect the United States. That’s why this month, for All Out August, he is committing to completing 500 meters of walking lunges per day.

The walking lunge is a daily practice that allows Tony to honor everything that taking a knee means in the military and forces him to push further through hardship and adversity. In the armed forces, taking a knee holds both physical and mental significance. Physically, taking a knee is a defensive maneuver that serves as a form of security for soldiers on patrol. It allows a soldier to be able to quickly run or pivot to confront any conflict. Its importance extends far beyond physical readiness, though. Used as a sign of respect in the armed forces, it is a gesture that many soldiers participate in at the foot of a fallen brother or sister’s final resting place. More broadly, it’s also a way of gaining perspective.

As for why Tony has committed to doing this daily, he highlights the importance both for his own growth and also for driving forward his sense of community with fellow armed forces members. “Taking a daily practice to push me deeper and further is needed,” Tony says. “I have learned that shared hardship brings people together, as we all can overcome adversity.” For Tony, this is especially important as National Suicide Prevention Month approaches. “Taking a knee is essential in honoring the 20 veterans, active-duty service members, guardsmen, and reservists that succumb to suicide each day,” he said. For Tony, no position better embodies the demands of the armed forces than taking a knee, and the walking lunge is his way of honoring the work his brothers and sisters put in every day.

PROGRESS AND TIPS

Two weeks into the challenge, Tony has settled into a routine and is on track to reach his goal. He credits much of his success to building a lunge crew that is completing this challenge alongside him. Comprising soldiers he has served with and others he has met over his military career, the group keeps him motivated and focused on the significance of his goal. “Even on the days where I’ve woken up with no motivation, this feeling has been quickly dismissed because of the fantastic team that has formed around doing this challenge,” he said.

Just because Tony has found a group that pushes him in his commitment doesn’t mean he has coasted. With a field exercise coming up, simply finding the time to complete the lunges has not always been easy. However, Tony isn’t using this as an excuse. “Ultimately, I don’t see this as a huge problem,” he said. “However, it is an unknown that I have to adapt to.” Further, Tony has decided to up the ante and make the work more challenging. As a way to forestall hitting a wall and losing the energy to finish the challenge strong, he’s mixing up the terrain on which he is performing the lunges. By varying the difficulty of the lunges every day, he’s keeping his mind fresh and ensuring that the days of the challenge do not blend together.

Tony is relying on his military mindset to help him get through the physical and mental obstacles that emerge. By breaking down his challenge into daily pieces, he’s allowing himself to focus on one element at a time and celebrate the small victories. “No matter how demanding the environment or event, you can only take on one task at a time,” he said. “As a long as I show up daily to complete my part, I’m moving towards my goal.” As Tony digs in for the next 7,000 lunges, he knows it won’t be easy – but he’s ready to commit. “Mental endurance is a way of life, and the easiest part was yesterday.” he says. “If I can’t advance deeper and become mentally stronger every day, I should hang up my boots now.”

REAP THE REWARDS

Committing to something that challenges you is a massive achievement, and we want to hear about your journey. Post an update on your progress during the month using #AllOutAugust, and we’ll send you a free pair of socks and a $25 gift card. Over the next month, we’ll be sharing your progress reports, letting the community know what you’re committing to, why you’re choosing to commit, and the improvements you’re spurring. Now’s the time to own up, take control, put yourself to the test, and commit to embodying mental fortitude every damn day.

INTRODUCTION

A former Navy SEAL who has served in Afghanistan and throughout Africa, Alex Fichtler knows that strength is earned, not given. Embodying that mindset, he wanted to commit to a challenge that both pushed himself mentally and honored the mental sacrifices that members of the armed forces make. To recognize the invisible weight that all service members and veterans carry on their shoulders every day, Alex committed to hiking one mile up and one mile down a mountain with a 100 lb sandbag and 25 lb of body armor for every day of August.

For Alex, this represents the ultimate mental and physical challenge. As a firm believer that one must put in the work to become physically harder and mentally stronger than adversaries, Alex wanted to find a challenge that would push his limits. “I am doing this challenge to test my mind and give my body a solid gut check,” he said. “It’s all in the pursuit of maintaining and sharpening my edge.”

However, his two-mile, 125 pound carry is more than a physical and mental challenge. As an armed services veteran, Alex knows that all service members carry an invisible weight. His challenge is designed to show that no matter what is going on today or what has happened in the past, everyone has the ability to always move forward, to always take the next step, and to keep climbing. “Excuses are out, and failure is out,” he said. “All that matters is that we keep climbing, one step at a time. It doesn’t matter how steep, how rocky, how unforgiving our paths may be.”

PROGRESS AND TIPS

To ensure success, Alex committed to going all in and giving 100% every single day. From the beginning of the challenge, Alex’s primary focus has been to ensure his body holds up to the physical and mental stress throughout the month. To do that, he’s focused on appropriate nutrition and adequate daily recovery, both of which he cites as having made a major difference in reducing the stress and strain on his body. In addition, taking a cue from his SEAL experience, which taught him that the proper plan greatly increases the chance of success, he’s remained relentlessly committed to the plan he laid out at the beginning of the month. “Jumping blindly into anything will severely compound the likelihood of failure,” he said. “That’s why I have planned everything. I plan the route, the backup route, the gear, the bag, the carrier, the shoes, the water, and the nutrition every single day.”

However, he’s still faced numerous obstacles along the way. While he’s confronted knotted muscles and persistent headaches from pulled muscles in his neck, his most serious obstacle was his severely rolled and swollen ankle. However, while he sprained his ankle on day 15, he refused to back down from his challenge. Instead, he got back on the mountain the next day and kept at it. “While the days after spraining my ankle have absolutely sucked, it comes down to the mental fortitude and capabilities that have been honed by years of high demand, high output evolutions, real world operations, and grueling exercises,” he noted.

As he approaches the final week of his challenge, Alex knows what he has to do to get across the finish line stronger than he started. Most importantly, he’s focusing on not breaking himself down before the end, particularly on the down route of the carry – which is where one step that is made without intention can have serious consequences. “The down route is no joke and one that takes focus the entire way down,” he said. “At this point in the route, when physical fatigue is at its peak, staying present in the moment is key.” While he remains hyper-aware of doing everything he can to ensure his body stands up to the physical demands of the next week, that doesn’t mean he’s going to coast across the finish line. “As I’ve become stronger and more confident in my movements I have thought about adding weight to the carry,” he said. “Don't be surprised if you see me add weight the last day.”

REAP THE REWARDS

Committing to something that challenges you is a massive achievement, and we want to hear about your journey. Post an update on your progress during the month using #AllOutAugust, and we’ll send you a free pair of socks and a $25 gift card. Over the next month, we’ll be sharing your progress reports, letting the community know what you’re committing to, why you’re choosing to commit, and the improvements you’re spurring. Now’s the time to own up, take control, put yourself to the test, and commit to embodying mental fortitude every damn day.

RECAP

Three men. Three challenges. One month of pushing their mental and physical limits, every day. Check out the video below to watch them get after it.