50 mile JFK

50 mile jfk race

5 Mental Toughness Lessons From 50 Mile JFK Ultra

The funny thing about racing and competition is that running a 50-mile ultra, the test comes first and then the lessons come afterward. Such is life… Here are the five epic mental toughness lessons that I learned from my 50-mile run. 

Race Breakdown:

The race started in the town of Boonsboro, Md at 6:30 on a chilly morning. It was perfect for running actually. The route went straight uphill for 2.5 miles to the Appalachian Trail and we were on the AT for 15.5 miles. This section was rocky; there was no sightseeing at all because one small misstep and you would be down. I saw two people bite it hard (yes, I stopped). After the AT, we descended onto the C&O canal for 26 miles. The final stretch was 8 miles of rolling hills on the road to complete the 50 mile JFK race.

  1. Process> Product
  2. Mindset.
  3. Everyone Runs Their Own Race. 
  4. NO ONE Gets There ALONE.
  5. Sub 10:00 Hr Race. 

1. Process> Product

We are all going to train, prepare, and practice way more than we actually race or perform. This is true in life! So, how we prepare is the most crucial piece.

I am not a special snowflake. If I can do it, then so can you. I KNOW that if someone has the will to do a race like this, then they can. It just takes mastering the base of Mental Toughness which is Motivation. 

I followed Maggie Guterl’s advice from my podcast,  “If your heart is not in the training, then it’s probably not good training.” I made sure I stayed committed to my preparation.

2. “Why” Mindset

Before signing up, I asked myself if not now, then when? If not you, then who? My “why” for doing this race was the challenge and it was a similar motivation as doing the Ironman last year as well.

I love pushing myself and doing things that I didn’t think were possible. At first, I thought 50 miles was a long way to run. And it is, but what the mind believes, it will achieve. 

But, the biggest motivator was for my kids. I want them knowing that anything is possible! And doing crazy shit is cool.

Living on the sidelines of life talking about other people doing great stuff is not living. 

One of the added motivators, however, was that one of my golfers, Tyler Duncan posted a 61 the day before at the RSM classic. I thought about many of my athletes, but knowing he was in the mix, made me push as well. He ended up winning his first PGA Tour event the following day! 

3. Everyone Runs Their Own Race

Between twenty and forty miles, I’d see the same people frequently.  People stop at the aid stations or stop with their SAG ( support & gear). There were run/walkers whose strategy is to run 9 minutes, then walk one minute. This allowed them to run a bit faster. In these packs of seeing the same people, it’s important to encourage and support one another.

With the brief friendships that are formed, you actually get to know details about people’s lives. For instance, I shared with a few people when we passed exactly where I fell off an 80-foot cliff in college. I got choked up. 

But, no matter what, everyone still has to run their own race, especially in the 50 mile JFK ultra. Some speed up and get stronger, while others struggle and drop off the pace. You root for these people and encourage and challenge them, but you still have to focus on what you’re doing.

4. NO ONE Gets There ALONE

lessons from 50 miler

(Mile 38 and I’m catching one last stretch listening to Porter’s motivational tip before moving on.)

NO ONE Gets There ALONE is a grand title for a book! 

I love this picture because it shows everyone’s involvement and role. Everyone had a job for these quick rest stops. There were 3 total stops; At miles 15.5, 28, and 38. My crew was dialed in and each stop averaged about 3 minutes each.

We practiced these stops as well, refueling the Tailwind in the bottle and my  33 Fuel gel packs, getting gum and ginger mints, and changing my shirt if needed. The stops were so precise that if just 2 minutes were added to each stop, then I would not have broken 10 hrs. 

We practiced worse case scenarios and we made certain that no talk was ever mentioned about how many miles were left or not finishing. No matter how bad off that I was when they saw me, there would have been no talk of quit at all. 

5. The Sub 10:00 Hour 

The race got really hard at mile forty-two because when we hit the road of rolling hills, the focus changed.

Instead of a focus of one mile at a time, I started counting down the miles…

Whenever our focus changes to the results or the outcome, there is fear. Fear lives in the outcome! 

I saw the time with 8 miles remaining and tried to do the math on what it would take to get sub 10hrs. I knew it was going to be close. But, I also wanted to walk some of the uphills.  I made the decision and told myself, instead of listening to myself, that I was NOT GOING TO WALK.

If I made it, great, but it would have far worse to finish having walked and missed a goal. It was the pain of discipline rather than the pain of regret. 

There was no walking, and frankly, when asked, I was most proud of this feat in the 50 mile JFK race.

dr rob bellDr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & Associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: Indy Eleven, University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out all the books.   Please check out the mental toughness podcast - 15 Minutes of Mental Toughness as we interview expert athletes and coaches about Mental Strength and their Hinge Moment.
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Myths about mental toughness

Myths about mental toughness

5 popular myths about mental toughness that are simply wrong

Mental Toughness, Grit, and Resiliency are the deciding factors for success in almost any career and endeavor. More importantly, is that it will also determine our overall level of joy, satisfaction, and happiness in life. 

We know about the sport psychology game and the battles that we all face! 

But, sadly, there still exist myths about mental toughness. These myths are perpetuated and spun and still being taught and coached. Please send us an email on what contradictions or false-beliefs about grit and resiliency that you think exist. 

1. Myth #1- It’s all about motivation-

Motivation is indeed the building block of the mental game.

The base of the hierarchy is motivation!

We start off each day deciding either to get out of bed or hit the alarm clock. Motivation…It certainly does boil down to “how bad do you want it?” However, mental toughness is NOT all about never giving up. It goes way beyond just having the will to succeed and endure!

There are other crucial skills involved such as professionalism, letting go of mistakes, being confident, performing with courage, and focusing under pressure.  

2. Myth #2- You have it or you don’t- 

The myth of mental toughness that still gets me is the all or nothing mentality.

Addicts think is all or nothing terms.

We are not only the best or the worst. The Ricky Bobby approach of “first or last” does not work here.

An either/or approach to grit needs to be opened up and expanded. It’s not about IF we have it, it is more a question of HOW MUCH? 

How much confidence do I have entering this situation? How much did I work on my mental game? How good am I at letting go of mistakes? 

3. Myth #3- It’s a peak performance-

Flow and peak performance is the best ever! Nothing beats it.

However, we are only going to have those ultimate moments about 5-10% of the time. The rest of our performances will simply be about doing our best from one play or one moment to another.

Grit means finding a way.

Making an adjustment and battling through adversity. Sometimes, it’ll simply mean sucking less. More often, it’ll mean to keep griding and competing.  

The mental game presents itself when we are faced with adversity and strife, not when we are warm and cozy or dominating another opponent or situation.

Adversity HAS to be present for us to be resilient! 

4. Myth #4- Sprints and lifting big tires-

Physical fitness, pushing one’s self, and digging deep are indeed part of the mental game. But, it’s still one of the biggest myths about mental toughness.

We use physical fitness as a metric for measuring grit, but it is only a slice of it. However, coaches ONLY use physical fitness challenges and tough workouts as “Mental Toughness Mondays.” 

This myth has to be laid to rest. 

Having the toughness to tell a coach when you’re struggling, or being able to reach out to a teammate, or simply doing the right thing are all examples of mental toughness and have zero to do with how much weight someone can lift. 

5. Myth #5- Doing it alone- 

When we lose confidence an interesting thing occurs, we isolate.

We pull back from others so they won’t see the struggle. We all have a little crazy in us, and when we isolate, it makes it easier to hide the crazy. 

But, only mushrooms grow in the dark!

Isolating causes more strife and the negative cycle continues. The myths about mental toughness of doing it alone and toughening up, doesn’t work. 

What takes courage takes courage!

It takes being brave to ask for help. That’s real strength! The weird part about life is that we ALL want to help, but no one wants to ask for it. 

dr rob bellDr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & Associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: Indy Eleven, University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out all the books.   Please check out the mental toughness podcast - 15 Minutes of Mental Toughness as we interview expert athletes and coaches about Mental Strength and their Hinge Moment.
natural ways to reduce stress

natural ways to reduce stress

Stress and anxiety are major problems for many Americans. When stress becomes extreme, your mental, emotional, and physical health all suffer. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to reduce your anxiety and improve your quality of life. Here are six natural stress management techniques that you can try.

6 Natural Ways to Reduce Stress


Exercise is one of the best natural stress-relievers available.

When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which are known as the “feel-good hormones.” Endorphins help to improve your overall mood and also act as natural pain relief. Regular exercise has been shown to reduce stress hormones. It can help to improve your sleep quality. It can also help to give you a boost of confidence. As a bonus, regular exercise can help to improve your overall health.

Herbal Supplements

There are many private label supplements available that can be beneficial in helping to reduce your stress. Common supplements include valerian and green tea. Valerian is a popular sleep aid that can also help to lower anxiety levels. Green tea can help to increase serotonin levels, which then helps to reduce stress and anxiety. It also contains antioxidants that provide several health benefits. If you take any medications, it’s important to consult with your physician first.


Cannabidiol oil (also called CBD) is becoming more popular as a natural way to reduce stress and anxiety. Many people are starting a supplement company to help make CBD more widely available. CBD is extracted from the cannabis plant. Some supplements contain no THC, while others contain “trace amounts.” The trace amounts are not enough to give the same high as other marijuana products.

Studies have shown that CBD can help to reduce stress and anxiety. It has also been shown to help alleviate a variety of other issues, including depression, inflammation, and pain.


When your stressed, your thoughts may begin to race. Meditation can help to slow these racing thoughts, helping you to become calmer. There are several natural ways to reduce stress when you can meditate. You might choose to practice deep breathing or take a yoga class. Mediation allows for mindfulness, which helps you to focus on the present. By focusing on the moment, you can calm your mind and reduce your stress.


Certain scents have been shown to help reduce stress and anxiety. Aromatherapy can be done by burning candles or incense. You can diffuse essential oils, too. Choose the method that works best for you.

The scents that work for someone else might not work for you. You should experiment with different scents. Some of the most common stress-relieving scents include lavender, sandalwood, and bergamot. Smell a few different candles or oils and select the ones that make you feel most calm.


You can also deal with stress by writing things down. There are a few ways that you can go about this. One way is to write down what’s stressing you out. Writing it down can help you to make sense of everything that’s going on. Another technique is to write down what you’re grateful for.

A gratitude journal can help you to focus on the positives in your life, rather than what’s making you stressed.

Stress can quickly overwhelm you if you let it. Practicing stress-relief can help you to take control of the situation and improve it. You don’t have to limit yourself to one strategy. Try a few and see which ones work best for you. Sometimes, people find relief in a combination of techniques. If you find that you are still having trouble managing your stress no matter what you do, you should speak with your healthcare provider.


The Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R) assists with the diagnosis of autism in individuals of all ages. It may also be used as a tool for assessing related disorders known as Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). The ADI-R is an extended interview that produces a range of information.


The interviewer administering the ADI-R must be experienced, and should be accompanied by a caregiver who knows the developmental history and the daily behavior of the patient. The individual being assessed is not present during the interview.

Appropriate Populations for the ADI-R Interview


The assessed individual may be of any age as long as their mental abilities exceed two years and they may be from any setting. It takes between 1 ½ and 2 ½ hours to administer and score the ADI-R. The 85-page ADI-R Interview Protocol booklet includes ninety-three items and is used by the interviewer to record responses.


In clinical situations, any child, adolescent, or adult referred with a diagnostic query regarding ASD qualifies. However, the ADI-R interview can also be used to survey the needs of an entire population for which the clinician has a responsibility, if a high rate of ASD is expected.


This would apply to children with developmental language disorders involving receptive difficulties, individuals with cognitive impairment, individuals with medical conditions commonly associated with ASD, children with congenital blindness, and children with severe institutional deprivation.


The interview can also be used to reach a fuller diagnostic assessment of children with high scores on the Social Communication Questionnaire and research usage provides a means to make these diagnoses using standardized criteria.


Assessing syndrome boundaries and identifying new subgroups is also possible with the ADI-R interview. It is appropriate for individual diagnostic assessment and group trends. It can provide quantification of autistic symptomatology with algorithm scores of separate domains or cumulatively.


Inappropriate Populations for the ADI-R Interview


The validity of the interview is demonstrated in the use of subjects who are of a mental age two and above. It can provide reliable descriptions of behavior for children younger than two as well, but validity is constrained by the fact that autistic features are not usually recognized by caregivers before eighteen months.


Results of screening children below the age of eighteen months produce a high rate of false negatives which suggest that autism is not present when later it was found evident. Subtle abnormalities in autistic children of this age can differentiate them from normally developing children, but they often go unrecognized and do not take the form of autistic behaviors.


Additionally, it is difficult to differentiate a general developmental delay or impairment from autistic behavior at this young age. Pretend play does not develop until after a child is eighteen months, so its absence is not a clear indicator of autistic behavior.


The ADI-R Interview can be used appropriately to obtain a detailed description of behavior in a child or adult with a mental age of two or above, but it does not have the same meaning for individuals with a mental age below two.


Choosing an Informant


The ADI-R Interview focuses on behaviors that are assessed in relation to the ages of four and five years, so the informant must be someone who was familiar with the behavior of the child at that age. This can pose a limitation when care is currently provided in an institutional setting and the informant for current behavior is a staff member.


The interview with a staff member at the institution is a reliable account of current behavior but does not provide the necessary information on early behavior needed for diagnosis. In cases like these, the recommended action is a further interview with a parent or caregiver who knew the child during the preschool years.

you must challenge yourself

you must challenge yourself

5 Convincing Reasons Why You Must Challenge Yourself

Let’s be blunt here, staying in your comfort zone seems nice and cozy. And, it is. At least for a while. But, if you want to get better, you must challenge yourself. 

We build walls around us by staying warm & cozy and remaining in our comfort zone. Before you know it, you’ll have built a mansion of comfort unless you are determined to become the best version of yourself. 

The way to seize your hinge moments is to challenge yourself.

Whether it’s a personal, business, or physical challenge, you need to push the
boundaries, dig deep, and overcome. 

Even if you start with small daily challenges, you must challenge yourself. The important thing is that you are pushing yourself to break the self-imposed barriers. Challenging yourself can completely change your life and open endless opportunities.

5 ways to challenge yourself

1. Build Confidence

While you can motivate yourself with quotes and affirmations, action is what will give you the lift that you need. When you overcome a difficult challenge, you’ll show yourself that you are better than you give yourself credit for.

You’ll be amazed at how your confidence will grow when you work on yourself by pushing the boundaries. There is so much more in you than you think.

For example, if you feel that you are not good at writing, but want to be a good writer, or wish you were, then write! The best thing you can do is challenge yourself to write something every day.

You can start by sharing your own experience and story. You will soon discover that writing will become more comfortable and you will become more confident in your ability to produce engaging content.

2. Grow into Your Personality

Different life situations change us. Some of these make us better, while others make us bitter. The choices we make every day define us and make us into who we become. That is why challenging yourself is so important.

How will you get to the core of your personality if you don’t exploit all the possibilities?

When you push yourself and make decisions that don’t make you comfortable. That means that you’ll give yourself new goals, different perspectives, new habits, and ultimately become the person that you want to be.

3. Know that You Did Your Best

Living life full of regrets can  WILL tear you down. Life is either the pain of discipline OR the pain of regret.

You don’t want to look back and think, “If I had pushed myself just a little harder, who knows…” 

“There may be people that have more talent than you, but there’s no excuse for
anyone to work harder than you do.” – Derek Jeter

The thing is that there will always be that small spark of doubt that will ask the question,
“Would it be different if I tried harder and believed more?”

4. Take Control of Your Life

Prove yourself that you are in control of your life and that your decisions are the ones
that shape your future.

Monica Hale, the CEO of Top Writers Review, shared a thought that helps her with life challenges: “Don’t blame fate. Don’t blame the luck. Don’t even try to blame it on the others. You are the boss of your life.”

You must challenge yourself because there is no stopping until you become aware that you are in control. 

5. Be Positive and Share the Positivity with Others

The rush that each challenge gives you can’t be described. It’s supposed to be exciting!

That is something you have to experience on your own, you can’t google it or buy it. 

The best part of being a positive and accomplished person is that you’ll have the power
to share it with other people. Remember- NO ONE Gets There ALONE. Pass on the knowledge you attained along the way and share that motivation and inspiration with the world.

In the end, it’s your decision. Instead of wondering about how your life would look like if you were braver, it is better to challenge yourself and become the person you are
supposed to be. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. 

Daniela McVicker is a content editor and blogger. She graduated from Durham University and has an MA in Psychological Science. Daniela has been combining her knowledge of psychology with her writing skills to help others to work on their mental toughness and their overall performance. She always thrives on recommending the best practices as well as innovative and useful approaches in her posts.

not feel bad about yourself

not feel bad about yourself

How To Not Feel Bad About Yourself

No one can tell you how you should feel.

Feeling good all of the time is not a goal, because if we never struggle with adversity, can we truly appreciate everything? Adversity and struggle provide us with perspective and humility which lead to gratitude.

What matters more is how we view ourselves and our overall self-concept and identity. 

Here are 3 ways to not think so poorly if do you feel bad about yourself? 

  1. Change your environment-  Vacations CRUSH stay-cations because your environment changes. try changing tour daily route, your morning routine, changing your room, and/or connecting with someone new. 
  2. By Default OR Design-  Evaluate your relationships. Do you actively seek out to reinforce and share with those close to you? Do they make you feel good about yourself or worse? 
  3. Hang out with winners- A funny thing about baseball dugouts is that those hitting well hang out with others who are hitting well. You’re the average of your five closest people, so make sure your environment breeds success and supports you!

change your environment


dr rob bell

Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & Associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: Indy Eleven, University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out all the books.   

Please check out the mental toughness podcast – 15 Minutes of Mental Toughness as we interview expert athletes and coaches about Mental Strength and their Hinge Moment.

respond don't react

5 Ways to Respond to Adversity

I’ve written six books on mental toughness and in NO FEAR: A Simple Guide to Mental Toughness, the concept of respond, don‘t react was a huge component of mental toughness.

I was caddying in a professional PGA Tour event and I caused my golfer a two-shot penalty. My golfer was the one who responded to the situation and didn’t react.

Think of a reactor, and you get a vision of a nuclear power plant or a chemical bond. A reactor is someone who can’t keep his or her cool under pressure. Picture a responder on the other hand, and you get a first responder, someone who has been trained to handle adversity.

We need to be a responder, not a reactor.

When we respond to adversity, it is devoid of emotion and we usually make good decisions. However, when we react, it is full of emotion and many careers and mistakes have occurred due to a bad reaction.

Adversity is sneaky, it shows up when we are most vulnerable. Just remember that life isn’t fair and you don’t need it to be in order to overcome! Use these five tactics instead. 

  1. Breathe and remain calm– Nothing good is achieved when we overreact or panic. 
  2. Walk Away- Do not make any immediate replies to email or texts or posts when upset or angry. 
  3. Make a Play- Channel your frustration into the next play. USE that energy! 
  4. Use a Time-Out- Allow yourself some time to ease the frustration, and focus on the solution, become a problem solver. 
  5. Slow Down- Everything appears to speed up after a mistake. When under pressure, be sure to walk slowly, talk slowly, and eat slowly. 

These are the five ways you can respond to adversity and not react. Here is an amazing infographic! 

5 ways to respond to adversity


dr rob bell

Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & Associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: Indy Eleven, University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out all the books.   

Please check out the mental toughness podcast – 15 Minutes of Mental Toughness as we interview expert athletes and coaches about Mental Strength and their Hinge Moment.

super bowl champions

super bowl champions

7 Awesome Facts of Super Bowl Champions

The Super Bowl may not represent the two overall best teams of the season, however, it does represent the two teams that played the best. The nature of upsets and playoffs allow anything to happen, which is why we love it. 

The margin between winning and losing is so very close that there Hinge moments from every season, that decide the champion.  

The reactions and responses from champions vary greatly as well, and they aren’t always what you think.

For example, which Super Bowl Champions quarterback thought to himself during the celebration, “Is that it?”

Which head coach, immediately after winning the Super Bowl, was in the locker room, but now felt like an outsider?

Interesting facts and themes also emerge from the championship seasons.

For instance, for twelve separate seasons, the back-up quarterback became the starting QB for a significant amount of playing time. For three straight seasons, 1999-2001, the back-up QB actually became the Super Bowl-winning QB.

Many teams had themes (e.g., Pound the Rock- 2002 Ravens), a rallying cry (e.g., Whatever it Takes- 1975 Steelers), or a symbolic gesture (e.g., Fun Bunch- 1982 Redskins, Mile High Salute- 1997 Broncos) that emerged throughout the season.

Several Super Bowl Champions also had special identities for units on their teams (e.g., The Expendables- 1973 Dolphins, The Zero Club- 1977 Cowboys, The Hogs- 1982 Redskins).

However, there is ONLY ONE common thread that existed across Super Bowl-winning seasons. If interested in learning about what every super bowl champion possessed, check out the .99 e-book here. 

7 awesopme facts of super bowl champions

dr rob bell

Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & Associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: Indy Eleven, University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out all the books.   

Please check out the podcast 15 Minutes of Mental Toughness as we interview expert athletes and coaches about Mental Strength and their Hinge Moment.