Dr Rob Bell Race Photo

Dr Rob Bell Race Photo

This Is What Happens When You’re Mentally Tough And Stupid

“If you’re gonna be dumb, you’ve got to be tough!”

The ultra-marathon that I signed up for just 5 weeks earlier was actually going well. The 50k race kicked off at 6:15 am and yes, it was a humid day and the course was indeed hilly, but that was the challenge. Now, only training for few weeks and competing in itself was Mentally Tough and Stupid.

But, what I learned about myself was nothing at all like I imagined or even considered.

For the first 12.5 miles, my pace was good, chatting with other competitors, and feeling strong until I stopped at the first major aid station.

I saw my family (like planned) at the aid station, and had a small bite to eat, changed shirts, and drank some water. Although, in the moment, I simply forgot to consume my SOS rehydrate electrolyte drink mix. I just forgot…Mistake #1.

The next aid station was eight hilly miles away at mile 20, and as I took off down the long hill to the bottom and started the long climb back to the next summit, I started to worry.

I began to worry (Mistake #2) because I began to have all of these minor setbacks, 1) I was with a group of about 5 runners and they dropped me, I just couldn’t keep pace, 2) My achilles that I strained in training started to really hurt, and it affected my stride,  3) My quads started to seize up, and 4) I started walking more and only running the downhills.

At mile seventeen, I was now officially “struggling.”

I was walking and not even running the sparse flat sections. I felt I had already gone through my 2nd wind, and my 3rd and 4th winds as well. I was on fumes… I knew I just needed to get to the next aid station and be able to eat and relax there for a bit.

I was relying on my mental game of “just keeping moving forward.” I could do one foot in front of the other. I could make it to the next tree and then I could make it to the next aid station. I was reminded of this simple technique from my latest podcast guest Luke Tyburski! 

I finally made it to the aid-station at mile 20 and then it all went really wrong.

I didn’t have a real plan at the mile 20 station, even though I had great nutrition (a 33 shake pack) with me, I somehow forgot that it was there. My race plan consisted of using my shake pack and then making it to mile 24 for some serious re-fueling.  But, I was feeling so poor that as I sat at the mile 20 aid station, I started to down water, gatorade, mountain dew, and I ate orange slices, peanuts & raisins, cookies, saltine crackers.

And boy those Twizzlers looked good, have some of those I thought, heck, while we are on it, those Swedish fish look mighty appealing! All of it, down the hatch over about a 7 minute rest. (Mistake #3)

NOW, I was ready to continue, 4.5 miles to the next aid station where my family would again be and even though I knew this was some rocky terrain coming up, I could make it. One foot in front of the other.

I started out running all the way to the bottom again, and started the off-road trek to the next summit. But, on the way up, I started to feel nauseous! (I know, crazy right?!) I had to actually stop and sit on the hill, because I had to vomit! Except I didn’t want to vomit! I hate puking!

I had to keep moving, I had to just keep moving.

I made it to the top of the hill and then I actually did throw up (a bit). And I felt better, but just for a minute. With two miles to go until the next aid station, I felt nauseous again and kept stopping and sitting, just wanting to throw up. I even stuck my finger down my throat to make it all come up (I just gagged, that didn’t work either). 

It’s humbling, demoralizing actually having to stop every few hundred yards and sit! Every person that passed me asked the same question “dude, are you okay?”  “oh yes, I fine!” I replied, I mean what else am I going to say then anyways?

About a half-mile up to the top of the aid-station,it all finally came up! Three or four projectile vomits and it was indeed a God send! Thank you Lord!

Right after that, I walked all the way to the top of the hill, no static, no issues at all. Now, I just needed to replenish everything I lost. At the aid station, I saw my family, and started consuming water and electrolytes. It was all going down okay! I was going to be fine!

That feeling of joy merely lasted a few minutes though because when I looked at the food,I wanted NONE of it! My body was in straight rejection mode. It had ran 24.5 miles and was focused on that task, my body wasn’t planning on now having zero fuel and acid build-up in the stomach to contend with. Then, I got the chills! It was 70+ degrees and I have the chills! Oh great, now what?

My buddy Bill was there at that aid station for support and even he was concerned. My wife told me “your lips are blue and your eyes are sunken in!” I didn’t want to hear any of that outside noise, I had 8.5 miles left, and I needed to focus on keeping moving forward.

Now according to webmd.com, there are 63 possible causes of vomiting and getting the chills at the same time. I was not aware of this at the moment of course, but all I knew is that I was in no position to argue with what happened next.

Sorry if it grosses you out, but it all came up again! Serious projectile vomit! And I don’t know about you, but it’s odd that when I threw up, more came up, than ever went down. How is that possible?

My two kids witnessed it all and they started crying!

The sky opened up and it started to POUR! It dumped buckets and buckets of rain! A great feeling if you’re actually running, but for me it was a sign of failure. I needed more time to recoup and instead I retreated to shelter and my wife told the race officials at the aid station; “he’s stopping.” Funny, but later my wife mentioned how the officials commented on a lot of runners had done the same thing.

I sat in the car, thunderstorm going on outside and I’m literally crushed. I felt like a failure! Mentally Tough? PShaw!

The person inside of me was thinking “So what you were throwing up?!!” “You keep moving and don’t give up, but you gave up!

I passed out in the car, got back to the cabin, took a hot shower, still had the chills, and puked again. This time though it was all acid and dry heaves- the worst kind.

I laid down and passed out. When I came to about 30 minutes later, they had returned from grabbing lunch and then they laid down to take a nap. But, I was awake and even though I couldn’t eat, I slowly drank a bottle of water. After another 30 minutes, I finally felt like I could eat, so I nibbled on a chicken finger (ha) that they had brought back for me.

It stayed down, and I slowly drank some more water… I then had the other chicken finger and it stayed down. Then I started to feel better, more back to normal! I thought about everyone in my life, my kids, wife, Izzy, my friends, family and I thought about myself.

It became a “who are you?” moment. Sure, other people would understand why I dropped, but that didn’t matter. Could I look myself in the eye and tell other people to never give up?!? NO!

I had my SOS Rehydrate and then woke up my family and told them the good news!

“We’re going back to finish the race!”

This is the part about being mentally tough and stupid!

They thought I was kidding for a second, but then they knew it was for real, so we went back. Two and half hours after I dropped, I checked back in with the race officials exactly where I stopped and went to finish my last 8.5 miles of the race.

They were a bit in shock, but I had my 33 shake pack and my SOS, I WAS going to finish!

Now, the rain had made the rest of the course a bloody muddy pit. If you’ve ever seen a fire department create a mud bog, this was it. I just tried to keep my shoes on and ran when I actually could manage to do so. The last 8.5 miles took me two hours and fifteen minutes.

I hooked up with a 50-miler guy about a mile in and we ran/sloshed the rest of the way and finished together. No One Gets There ALONE.

I finished last! But, I finished. That beats those who didn’t finish.

Rob Bell 50K Race Result Photo

Would You Stop?  I sign every book of NO ONE Gets There ALONE with that question…

We have to be able to answer that question before it’s even asked!

When our moment hits, it’s too late to prepare, we need to be ready! Commitment means finishing what we started, no matter how bad the situation or the circumstance. We are our vision or our circumstance!

This isn’t a quiz and there isn’t a right or wrong answer! You’ll have to decide! Would you have stopped?

I was mentally tough and stupid. Maybe they are linked together, I’m not sure. We all live with fear, so let’s couple it with arrogance.

I was asked later “what if that race cost you your life, would it have been worth it?”

My answer is “yes!” I was willing to go to that length! I’ll quote the epic movie Point Break. “If you want the ultimate, you have to be willing to pay the ultimate price. It’s not tragic to die doing what you love.” 

It may sound self-fish, but I was an am thinking of my family, I want them to be that passionate about their own journey and be willing to push themselves past their own barriers and limitations. It’s not the lesson I thought I learn during this race.

I can at least still share my philosophy about the power to Never Give Up!

Dr. Rob Bell Mental Toughness

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 on Mental Toughness  

parent of an athlete

parent of an athlete

10 Reminders If You’re A Stressed Out Parent Of An Athlete

1) They Are NOT Going To Be A Professional Athlete.

Along the way, somebody has told you that your kid has talent and that became a drug. In fact, 26% of those who were a parent of an athlete believed that their kid could play professional sports! Twenty-Six Percent!! The number is so absurd that it only allows one conclusion, “Who told you that?”

If most people knew what it took to be a pro athlete, they’d never sign up.

We only view the most elite of the elite, the .000001% of professional athletes, like Lebron, Tom Brady, or Serena Williams. We don’t see the d-league basketball player, the guy on the practice squad, or the 87th ranked female tennis player. These players are great professionals as well, but they often live overseas, or travel 30-40 weeks out of the year, and simply don’t make millions of dollars.

Even if your child becomes a professional athlete, they aren’t going to be for very long, It’s a small portion of their life and it’s often finished by 30 or 35 years old. Then it becomes, “now what“? They will rely on the relationships and skills they’ve developed outside of their actual sport talent.

So, as parents, after every championship or setback, just focus on the moment and not allow the picture to get too big like them becoming a professional athlete. Remember this fact even if a coach tells you how good they are and “could be” with their coaching and program.

2) They Are NOT Getting A Full Division I Scholarship.

First, only 2% of high-schools athletes play Division I sports. (I work with many division I athletes so this is tough for me to comprehend because my sample is skewed).  

But, the only men’s sports that offer full-scholarships are basketball and football. Women’s sports with full-scholarships are Tennis, Gymnastics, Basketball, and Volleyball.

All other Division I sports receive monies based upon the athletic program and coaches discretion. Partial scholarships at 60%, 30%, or less are the norm. But, what sounds better? “My daughter earned a scholarship to play at such and such”  OR “My daughter received 40% scholarship to play at such and such?”

Partial scholarships aren’t exactly sexy cocktail party fodder.

Keep Richard Marx in mind and remember it don’t mean nothing until an official grant-in-aid is signed on the dotted line. A verbal offer is meaningless as well as monies supposedly offered.

Other parents will want to play this narrative that their own child received a letter from such and such school, and are “being recruited.” This may not even be true! Yes, they may have received a letter, but that was one of hundreds sent out. A player is not getting recruited until one of the coaches contacts them personally.

So, all of the sacrifices, travel, expenses, and commitment should be decided upon before going down this path of  “full-scholarship.”

3) Look At Div II, III, And NAIA.

If your child loves their sport and has the passion to play and practice, then they can play in college. But, the biggest question for playing in college should be “will they receive PT?”

PT = Playing time…This the currency that every athletes wants to spend.

I know several athletes who were “good enough” to play the the top level of collegiate sports, and they chose to go that path instead of going someplace where they could actually play and contribute on a consistent basis.

Alas, do you as a parent even want them to play Division I? It is another full-time job — 6 am weights, 8 am classes, finished classes by 2:45, practice done by 6PM, study and dinner finished by 11 PM. Rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat.

These different levels of collegiate play are highly competitive and are excellent options to explore. Great academics + college experience  = Winning as a Parent of an Athlete. These other levels are a part-time job compared to the full-time job of Division I.

Scholarships are augmented through academic monies, so your child carrying a 3.7 GPA can receive grant-in-aid from both athletic and academic.

4) Call Them THIS.

How do you introduce and describe your child?

Here is perfect little Rachel” or “This is Johnny, our star second baseman.” The words we use to describe our own child carries meaning. Rachel certainly isn’t perfect and what happens if Johnny gets hurt or doesn’t make the all-star team?

5) Can’t Want It More Than Them.

“The will to prepare has to be greater than the will to win.” – Bobby Knight

Passion is the pre-requisite for achieving anything great in life. As bad as you may “want it” for them, if they don’t take ownership and want it themselves, then the struggle will be real.

Those that have passion often don’t have to be asked to practice, nagged to work on something, or coerced into playing. There’s a good saying that goes along the lines of  “it’s tough to be driven when you’re being driven.” They are the one’s that have to want it.

These conversations need to take place about what are their goals, what do they want from you, and what do they NOT want from you. Check this article out about one way to build motivation in your child…

6) Ride The Carousel, NOT The Emotional Roller Coaster.

There is a funny saying on tour amongst caddies about how their player performed. When it’s good,  it’s “WE shot 67″  OR it’s “HE shot 75″ if he played poorly.

If you treat every performance as life and death, then you’re on the roller coaster of emotions and you’ll be dead! Vicarious parents live through their child, whereas supportive parents live with their child.

Your role as a parent of an athlete is to provide balance, stability, and support in their life. You must remain detached from outcomes! If you get caught up in the drama or results of winning and losing, then you can’t remain level-headed.

The carousel is not much fun, but’ it’s the only ride that you should do as a parent.

7) Body Language Doesn’t Talk, It Screams.

In sports, we see positive and negative body language all of the time. But, are you aware of your own body language as a parent?

I’m here to break it to you, but since they were little, they watched for your reaction in the crowd. They saw you slumping in your chair, looking at your phone, or throwing your hands up in disgust. Your own body language spoke so loud, they didn’t even need to hear what we were saying. 

Negative body language does not show that we care or are passionate, it communicates that we are not confident. We are signaling that we do not have faith in our own child or that they can turn it around and make a good play.

This is not easy, but essential — Your own body language must ride the carousel as well. It must be confident and supportive. Head up, clapping or cheering and if they do look, always a thumbs up!

8) Do Not Go Back To The Cook.

How many of you have eaten out at restaurants? I love it as well.

So, how many times have you returned a dish and told the cook “THIS is how you prepare shrimps & grits?”

Almost never, right?

So why do we feel that we can go talk to the coach about our son and daughter or their coaching style or type of plays? Parents yell, coach from the stands, complain, even write anonymous emails to the administration or other parents. I’m here to let you know to STOP IT.

If your own son or daughter wants to develop the skill of communication and ownership, then it is their responsibility to talk to coach about playing time on their own. Role play with them all you want, but it is ultimately up to them.

9) Talk About All Pressure Situations Here.

Coach Jeff Van Gundy said “We talk about all pressure situations in non-pressure environments.”

He didn’t want the team or coaches to come up with a last second defense or shot in the moment. They had already discussed all of those situations the evening before. So, when those pressure moments hit, they already had a plan in place.

There are good times to provide feedback and there are not good times. During the car ride home is NOT the time to offer unsolicited advice.

Watch our quick video on how parents Ruin the Car Ride Home! 

We need to set up times when we are all cool, calm, and collected that we discuss all emotionally charged discussions.

10) It’s NOT Who Gets There First, It’s Who Can Get There and Stay There.

The best twelve-year-olds in the nation right now (pick the sport) should be the best 14-year olds, 18-year olds, become the star in college and win an Olympic gold medal or professional championship! Right?

It happens, but rarely.

But, we still rank the top 7th graders in the nation!

It is rare because there are so many factors when it comes to long-term success that we neglect the long-term and only focus on the short-term. We look at the short-term development with a microscope and speculate into the future with a telescope!

Here’s the point! There will be many challenges and losses and failures along the way. If we don’t allow them to experience these setbacks, then we retard their eventual progress as an athlete and person. It’s only having gone through these difficult times that produces our character. Besides, it’s not about the setback, it’s about the comeback.

Sport teaches whatever we want it to teach, so as a parent of an athlete, are we only focused on what our child can get out of sport, or do we care more about all of the lessons that he/she can learn FROM sport?

Leadership, creativity, effort, passion, confidence, teamwork, communication, perseverance, mental toughness, focus, letting go of mistakes, handling conflict, overcoming obstacles, and being in the zone are all skills that will last WAY BEYOND when their sport career is over.

We need to trust the process when it comes to development as a person.

If you have some additional reminders, please email me.  Maybe it’ll make the next book. 

Dr. Rob Bell Mental Toughness

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 on Mental Toughness

mental toughness Sauces

Marinate Your Mind With These Mental Toughness Sauces

I simply couldn’t take it. I got too worked up.

I could no longer listen to sports commentary. It seems silly, but I’d arrive at my destination stuck inside of my own head, agitated. That didn’t build my mental toughness. I needed to instead maximize my transitions! 

Sports media just pick individual athletes to highlight and now only point out the errors they make. They perpetuate the absurd notion of perfectionism. And I certainly can’t entertain a few grown men debating about all of the drama in sports. Like I seriously care what a grown athlete tweeted about another player. But, I listened…I was soaking my mind with a worthless mental toughness sauce. (I still listen to Jim Rome though).

We need to marinate our mind with people, places, and things that help us BE the BEST At Getting BETTER.

Here are the mental toughness sauces that we need to soak our mind in! 

Success Sauce

In times of suffering, we forget how tough we really are. 

Jon Morrow is a quadriplegic, and one of the most successful bloggers on the planet. He had to overcome challenges like we all do, but when starting out, he listened to podcasts and audiobooks for 6-8 hours every single day. After doing this over and over again, and marinating his mind with successes, he literal felt and believed that anything was possible!

The success sauce makes everything taste great! Rub it in!

We must watch and listen and surround ourselves with success. Marinate your mind with mental toughness sauces of motivating podcasts, uplifting videos, and successful people.

Suffering Sauce

Man and woman can only enjoy that which acquired from hard work and toil. The harder you work for something, the more you enjoy it. If something is easy, then how much reward is there?

You must do something that sucks, every single day! 

David Goggins calls it “Embrace the Suck!”

The mental toughness sauces of suffering simply means doing what you don’t want to do.

If you don’t want to write, then write, if you don’t want to workout, then workout. If you don’t want to mow the lawn, then mow the lawn.

When you train your mind and create situations that make you suffer, then when tough times in life approach, we’ve developed a resolve through suffering.

Gratitude Sauce

More, More, More. It’s an addict’s mantra!

We don’t have enough, are not where we want to be, and aren’t enough. Anxiety and stress comes from looking at where we are and what we don’t have.

Gratitude is actually the secret sauce of mental toughness. It brings relief the suffering sauce if we’ve put too much on.

Peace comes from simply being thankful for all that we do have. It’s not an attitude of gratitude, it’s more of an action of gratitude. We need to take certain steps and take action toward a grateful mindset.

Write out a gratitude list:

  • Be able to walk, run, skip, and play with my kids.
  • Loving wife.
  • A happy son and daughter.
  • My job of coaching.
  • Having a New PGA Tour winner!
  • The huge cup of water.
  • New deck furniture.
  • Planted three flowers with daughter.
  • Shared a sprite with her.
  • Amazing sunset the other night.
  • Camping with friend and ran 20 miles.
  • My podcast episodes.
  • many, many, many more blessings.

Now, take action and write out your own gratitude list. Marinate your mind with the mental toughness sauce of gratitude. Once we start to count our blessings, it’s easy to share them with others.

Passion Sauce

“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”- Ralph Waldo Emerson.

There’s an obscure scene in Rocky II. He’s drifted away from being a contender, has spent his money, and he asks Mickey for a job cleaning the gym and carrying spit buckets. When Mickey asks him “why,” he humbly replies, “I just have to be around it.”

Our why has to make us cry, if it doesn’t, then it’s not our why. The mental toughness sauce of passion brings us to tears. When we win, we cry because we know how much we’ve sacrificed.

When we lose, we cry, because it hurts.

Our passion has to be the driver in our life. Life is HARD!

There are going to be setbacks and obstacles and horrible days and weeks. Other people will have success while you’re stuck. Too often we settle or go down a path because of the money, power, title, or prestige only later to find out that we do not like it. But then we’re stuck, because we’ve invested a ton of our time, and we’re even probably good at it.

If you do not have a passion for what you’re doing, then you’ll come up with an excuse for doing it.

If you don’t wake up excited about what you have to get to do, then look at your “why” and you’ll see it’s not specific. Passion is the prerequisite for anything we want to do, period.

Confidence Sauce

You owe it to yourself to be confident. Confidence is contagious! It’s a killer sauce of mental toughness. We need to rub it on everything! 

However, all of the hard work and sacrifice toward your goal becomes absolutely meaningless if you don’t believe in yourself.

If you second guess yourself, compare yourself to others, or only focus on the results, then you undercut everything you’ve done. It becomes cheap currency.

A funny thing about confidence it that there is a nosy neighbor called doubt. Doubt wants to move-in with confidence. Doubt always wants to hang out with confidence, but they simply don’t get along well. However, that doesn’t keep doubt from following confidence around wherever confidence goes.

Wherever doubt lives, it does so, rent-free. Doubt is a squatter!

We can live successfully with doubt as a neighbor, but we can’t let doubt move in with us as a roommate and crush our mental toughness. 

Dr. Rob Bell Mental Toughness

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 on Mental Toughness   Check out our podcast 15 Minutes of Mental Toughness 

Photo of Izzy

Run For Izzy

We take many things for granted. I don’t think that we can help it.

We forget the water with ice that we get to drink, the bed that we sleep in, and the vehicle that we get to drive. We all have problems as well, so we often focus on what we don’t have. It’s only after we are intentional about gratitude and perspective that it makes our own issues and concerns seem insignificant. For instance, as many of us look at the finish line of the current school year and count down the days, there are other families who never thought their son or daughter would even finish elementary school.

Our family got in the habit this winter and spring of watching real-life documentaries every week. These were focused on people and teams that overcame great odds, and took on extreme endeavors. Here’s the blog post, The Top 10 Mental Toughness Documentaries That Will Make You Better.

Watching tons of these powerful stories marinated our own mind with the belief that we can accomplish anything. So, I signed up for a 50k trail race (with one month of training, but I don’t recommend it http://dwdgnawbone.com/).

But I made sure that this race wasn’t about me, I tried to make it about someone else, someone who could also use the hope and inspiration. Run For Izzy because NO ONE Gets There ALONE. The irony is that she helps me, way more than I can help her.

This is Izzy and she has Stage IV Relapsed Neuroblastoma. She was originally diagnosed in December of 2011, at just three years old. She goes to Durbin Elementary and will soon be finishing 4th grade. Every day without pain is a blessing.

The Mattocks family received the devastating news that Izzy’s cancer has now returned for the 4th time. There is no cure yet and the five year survival rate is less than 1%.

There’s some help that we all can provide for the endless amount of medical bills and expenses, because when we think about it and follow along with her story, she gives US the gratitude and perspective that we all need.

If you can help, here are the pages related to Izzy. Perhaps you already have, so thank you!




Rob Bell Run For Izzy Photo

Dr. Rob Bell Mental Toughness

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 on Mental Toughness  

Walking Trail Mile Sign

top 10 mental toughness documentaries

Top 10 Mental Toughness Documentaries That Will Make You Better

Jon Morrow is a quadriplegic who is also one of the most accomplished bloggers on the planet. He’s overcome a ton of challenges and he shared one way that he rose to success was what he fed his mind

He would listen to podcasts, audiobooks, and watch top 10 mental toughness documentaries of successful people for 6-8 hrs every day!!! He basically marinated his mind with so much positivity, strategies, and models of success, that his reality changed.

The impossible was now very possible!

Makes sense, because after watching these Top 10 Mental Toughness Documentaries, I signed up for a 50k trail race, with less than one month of training. I also completed a full-Ironman WITH training. That’s how powerful these documentaries are. 

Who doesn’t want to get tougher and be more resilient, full of grit, and able to handle adversity in a positive fashion?

In order to have Mental Toughness, there must be some sort of adversity, struggle, or challenge. Mental Strength does not happen in the absence of competing against ourselves. The list of Top 10 Mental Toughness Documentaries exemplify these skills in various ways.

In these movies, some people endure through disasters tough to ever imagine, whereas some persevere through decision making, some overcome battling injuries, and some display grit through sheer determination.

You can watch all of these documentaries FREE via Amazon Prime.

Amazon Prime Discount Image

10. The Ouray 100-

Non laurus luctatio- “Not the prize but the struggle” is the theme of this race! Avery Collins is the race favorite, but is near the last place at one of the world’s most difficult trail races because of a wrong turn! Avery spends the next ninety miles enduring high altitude terrain and foul weather in a daring attempt to reclaim his lead. Running time: 59 minutes

9. Running For Jim-

Running for Jim is the inspiring story of a high school running coach Jim Tracy and his battle with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease.) It follows his 2010 women’s championship team that brought his story to international attention. Running time: 117 Minutes

9B. Heart: From FlatLine to Finish Line-

It’s 9B because both of these documentaries ( 9 & 9B) raise awareness to causes larger than themselves. This one involves heart disease and the story about six cardiac patients from hospital beds to the finish line of one of the world’s most grueling endurance events, the Ironman triathlon. A harrowing twist in the middle of this documentary was NOT expected. Running Time: 1 hr 39 minutes

8. Long Green Line-

A cross-country coach has over hundreds of high-school kids show up every single year to run! That’s impressive enough! Coach Joe Newton has used the sport of Cross Country to teach important lessons to high school boys for the last 50 years. This mental toughness documentary is focused on a single season in his career and follows the team from Elmhurst, Illinois as they reach for their 25th state title. The film focuses not only on the top athletes, but an autistic runner, and an athlete with cerebral palsy. Running time: 1hr 29 minutes

7. Being Evil-

This is most well-polished of the Top 10 mental toughness documentaries. Johnny Knoxville is the producer and the narrator. This story unfolds the man who started the term “daredevil.” His life on and off the stunts is as you can imagine, filled with highs and lows. It’s a modern-day epic Greek trilogy. Running time: 1 hr 40 minutes

6. Finding Traction: The Ultra Marathon Documentary-

Nikki Kimball attempts to beat the men’s record of the 273- mile Long Trail in Vermont. Yep, 273 miles! Follow along with her journey with her support team across four (4) days. This is a no joke, “a tough person” and it’ll have you in awe of her and her toughness. Highly recommend for the empowerment of female’s as well. Running Time: 55 Minutes

5. U.S.S. Indianapolis-

This documentary may have you in tears. It’s the story of the worst naval disaster in U.S. history. The tragic story that the survivors go through is jaw-dropping. The U.S.S. Indianapolis was sunk in the waning days of WWII and it was not reported, so the sinking is an epic tale of survival for five (5) harrowing days. Running Time: 1 hr 38 minutes

4. Alone Across Australia-

Jon Muir simply walks across Australia, unassisted, for 1600 miles. This is desolate land through the middle of Australia! It took him 128 days with just him and his dog, surviving off of the land. An amazing battle of inner-strength. Running Time: 51 Minutes

3. Ultimate Triathlon-

I interviewed Luke Tyburski for my podcast- 15 Minutes of Mental Toughness. I interviewed him because of his grit and his ability to not only handle and overcome pain but to seriously stay relaxed when all is against him.

The Ultimate Triathlon is his race From Morocco To Monaco – Swim / Bike / Run – 2000km (1200 miles) in 12 days. Running Time: 1 hr 37 minutes

2. Meru-

Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chi, and Renan Ozturk attempt a first summit on the mountain Meru. It’s located in India and the route that they take as a team has never been done. NO JOKE! This is big-time climbing. You’ll be in awe of these guys at what they attempt, the decisions that they have to make, and the perseverance and obsession with accomplishing this goal of Meru. Running Time: 1 hr 30 minutes

1. Barkley’s Marathon- The Race That Eats It’s Young.

This previously occupied the top spot on the Mental Toughness Documentary list. This is the race that has become a cult favorite amongst Ultra distance runners. This documentary outlines the history of the race, follows one entire race, and the eventual failures and successes of the field. This race is so arduous, that there were only 10 finishers of this race in its first 25 years! 

The Barkley’s Marathon is so difficult that in 2018 alone, amongst the world’s best racers, NO ONE even finished this race! Running Time: 1 hr 29 minutes

1B. The Dawn Wall-  

This list will continue to evolve. I watched this and immediately was in awe of Tommy Caldwell. He and Kevin Jorgeson attempt to climb the toughest part of El Capitan. He overcomes so much including losing a finger, being taken hostage in Afghanistan and his marriage falling apart.

They plan for 6 years! The BEST part is that this is the ultimate in TEAM! You’ll LOVE IT.

Running Time: 100 Minutes

1A. Free Solo- 

As you can see, the climbing movies occupy three of the top four spots in the best mental toughness documentaries. It’s probably because I don’t climb and am in awe watching these feats! Well, Alex Honnold takes the title here in Free Solo. 

He is a free solo climber. In essence, he climbs with no ropes, pullies, He attempts to summit Free Rider on El Capitan. He does this incredible climb with precise planning and walks through the fear he is faced. This is the best documentary I’ve seen thus far. Jimmy Chin directs it as well.  Running Time: 100 Minutes 

If you want a more detailed list of documentaries and even popular “movies” with some Hollywood added in, then please check out the awesome list compiled by Dr. Sam Forlenza at https://sportpsymovies.blogspot.com/.

It’s a great resource for anyone in search of mental toughness or sport psychology resources.

Dr. Rob Bell Mental Toughness

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 on Mental Toughness  

she won the boston marathon

How She Won The Boston Marathon

Des Linden, she won the Boston Marathon, the most prestigious marathon in the world on her 6th attempt.

The conditions were shitty rough.

There were 30+ m/hr headwinds the entire race, complete downpour, and temperatures in the 30’s with windchill in the 20’s.

It was a day that exemplified Mental Toughness!!!

My JV soccer coach once told us that “bad weather equalizes out the competition.” He’s right.

It was the slowest winning time in the Boston Marathon for the men’s and women’s race in 40 years. Just check out the “no-names” of the finishers in 2nd through 6th!

Who the Heck Were Those Women in 2nd Through 6th at the Boston Marathon?

But, here’s how Des Linden, (who has tons of outside fans because of her talent and penchant for whiskey) won the race.

She said to herself at mile six “guess it’s not my day.” She didn’t feel it. Things need to go right on those days and it wasn’t…. At that moment.

Then, she focused on others. That’s how she won the Boston Marathon, by focusing on others! 

She told her friend and race favorite Shalane Flanagan that she was going to drop out, and Des asked Shalane if she could do anything to help her…

Shalane asked if she could go use the bathroom….

So, Des, held up and waited for her and together they joined back up with the lead pack.

By focusing on others, she got outside of her own head, her own issues, her own struggle and fatigue.

Then she got her second wind!

She won the Boston Marathon as a result from focusing on others… NO ONE Gets There ALONE. 

We simply cannot help out anyone else without ALSO helping ourselves. It’s just that focus on others goes contrary to the music and self-talk that we’ve been listening to our whole life…. Me, Me, Me.

Our next 30-day Mental Toughness Challenge begins at the beginning of the month.

Want to learn and apply the same recipe for success AND significance?

Check it out here… NO ONE Gets There ALONE- 30 Day Mental Toughness Challenge. 

mental toughness challenge

Dr. Rob Bell Mental Toughness

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 on Mental Toughness  

The Real Reason Forrest Gump Started Running.

I don’t buy that whole line of  bull that Forest Gump Spews about “That day, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a little run.” That’s not the reason Forrest Gump started running. 

Not One Bit!

Here’s why…

His mom just died in the same house he grew up in, delivering the famous “life is like a box of chocolates” line. I hope I can deliver a witty line before I die. 

Then, Forrest Gump’s love, Jenny, comes back into his life and he said having Jenny back in his life was the “happiest time of his life! Just like peas and carrots.” 

Then, it rains in the movie…

Nothing good happens when it rains during movies.

When he woke up, Jenny had left in the middle of the night, after rejecting his marriage proposal and leaving him with a little present. 

Forest Gump was in pain. 

He was hurting. It was his bottom. 

And we’ve all been there. Our bottom. It’s different for everybody. But, it’s where change takes place. It’s a motivating factor.

Desperation. Frustration. Hurt. Pain. 

That’s the reason Forrest Gump started running that day. And the bottom is what causes our own change as well. 

We need to want to change and get better so badly, that we will do whatever it takes. If we are comfortable, then we need more pain before change will occur. 

Now, the past is okay to look at, but we can’t stare at it.

The reason Forrest Gump started running WAS NOT the reason why he kept running. He certainly didn’t keep running his whole life. His why changed along the way. 

He said it later near the end of the running sequence montage of the movie, “You need to put the past behind you before you can move on.” 

In our own life, it’s okay to have various motivations for change once we begin the path. It can start with pain and fear,  but our why changes. It needs to involve passion, goals, dreams, and a vision of who we want to become. The pain needs to be accompanied by love. 

Does your why also involve other people, or is it just about you? 

Would have Forrest kept running if it wasn’t for all of the people who joined him? Perhaps so, but there’s no denying that he did have a lot of company with him. 

He ran for three years, two months, fourteen days, and sixteen hours. That’s usually enough time to run past the pain. Depends… I do know that running helps. 

Dr. Rob Bell Mental Toughness

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 on Mental Toughness  

Top Mental Toughness Books of 2018 (so far)

If you are a coach or a boss, then you are paid to read. Hence, I love reading quality books and make it a priority to read the top mental toughness books that are WAY better than mine. If you want a detailed reading list for 2018, check out this article.


Wherever I Wind Up- R. A. Dickey 

Top Mental Toughness BooksCy Young winner, R. A. Dickey pitched for the Vols way before I arrived there. And even though I’m a graduate of the University of Tennessee, I couldn’t have enjoyed this book anymore. This is one of the top mental toughness books I’ve ever read. 

After making the Collegiate World Series, he was slated to be drafted in the first round by the Texas Rangers and sign a contract and bonus of $750,000. During the routine physical, it was discovered he had no UCL in his elbow!?!

Thus, no contract! He ended up signing a simple minor league contract. This book is simply top-notch and a real testament to his faith and approach to life.


Anyways- Kent M. Keith 

The paradoxical commandments!

This is a very fast read. It’s easy to digest and sometimes the simple books are the most powerful.

The synopsis is basic, people are going to think you’re doing good for the recognition.

Do good anyways! 

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.

Succeed anyway.

Or as Andre Agassi’s strength coach Gil Reyes once told me, “Some battles are worth fighting, even if you lose.”

On Fire- John O’Leary

John O’Leary was a nine-year-old boy who wanted to watch some cardboard burn in his garage as he poured gasoline on it. The subsequent explosion threw him against the garage wall.

He was covered in gasoline and had to run through the flames in order to get out. He ran into his house completely on fire where his brother put the fire out with rug.

This epic story involves finding out your why in life and how an action of gratitude makes all of the difference. In need of perspective or inspiration? this is it. The Top Mental Toughness Books are also in audio format and this is read by the author, which I dig.


The Quarterback Whisperer-  Bruce Arians

I like to whisper too!

“No Risk it, no biscuit. “ is the popular saying from this head coach and quarterback expert. Coach Bruce Arians has worked with the best in the history of the game from Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger, to Andrew Luck and Carson Palmer.

Coach Bruce delves into the intricacies and mentality needed to be an elite NFL quarterback and how to build one. His commentary and approach to coaching is authentic and down to earth!




The Undoing Project- Michael Lewis

The author of Money Ball and Three Nights in August, Michael Lewis, wrote another classic.

This book is about two psychologists who changed the way we basically think about our reality. These two researchers examined big data and invented the field of behavioral economics. They always came under harsh scrutiny for their work, because they were unconventional.

For example, would you rather merely LOSE $50 or flip a coin and if you win, you lose nothing, but if you LOSE the coin flip, you lose $100?



Dr. Rob Bell Mental Toughness

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 on Mental Toughness  


This Brutal Injury Caused and Created  An NBA All-Star

NO ONE could have predicted that a brutal injury caused and created this player to become a NBA all-star and the New York Knicks all-time leader in three-pointers.

It was an injury that led him to Knicks stardom.

In every bad situation, some good will come out of it! 

John Starks received a try-out with the Knicks but wasn’t expected to make the team.

Fortune favors the bold and Starks had plenty of that intangible skill. During try-outs, his 6’3” frame attempted a dunk over 7’0” Patrick Ewing.

The hall of fame center rejected the dunk and slammed Starks to the ground causing Starks to injure his knee. NBA rules state that a player cannot be cut from a roster if they are injured, so he remained on the team.

It was after he returned that the Knicks began to value his work ethic so much that he garnered playing time. His injury became a hinge moment. The injury caused and created a future all-star. 10 

It doesn’t matter where we are on the depth chart, or how bad things seem. We need to stay ready because it only takes one! For our hinge to connect, we must have confidence. In every BAD situation, Some GOOD will come out of it. 


Dr. Rob Bell Mental Toughness

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 on Mental Toughness  

Save Your Kid When You Remember This One Mental Toughness Tip

 Remember that one player as a youth who somehow had a beard? Typically the best athletes at younger ages are the biggest and the most physically developed.

So, won’t the best 12-year-olds in the nation will be the best professionals, and major champion winners, olympic medalists and so on? It rarely happens, because of the many factors that go into long-term development! 

Let’s compare two youth athletes’ journeys because the mental toughness tip is: It’s not who gets there first, it’s who can get there and stay there.

Golf is a sport where physical development is less important and occurs much later. It’s such a mental game, so this kid had a proverbial mental beard. He played beyond his years, didn’t make mistakes, and won—a lot.

He was not only the number-one 12-year-old golfer in California, but he was so good that at one international tournament he shot 73-70 and won it by sixteen shots! 

When he finished sixth at Junior World Golf Championships that same year—the best field in the world, he was disappointed. At that time in California, future PGA champion Rickie Fowler looked up to this kid.

As a freshman in high school, every collegiate program wanted this golfer, and everyone approached him.

The expectations for this young man were tremendous, and he admitted that when he began to struggle, he thought he was letting everyone down. When his physical growth occurred, his golf swing changed, he became confused with mechanics, started enjoying other sports, and soon lost confidence. 

Remember, confidence is king. Although, that’s not the mental toughness tip. 

Luckily, his stellar grades buffered him from finding his complete identity in being only a golfer. 

He still managed to play in college, but at a much lower level. This golfer’s name, Joe Skovron, would later become Rickie Fowler’s caddy on the PGA Tour. An excellent gig, but this isn’t the mental toughness tip. 

In comparison, the other youth athlete played all different competitive sports at a younger age, including football, baseball, and basketball.

Everyone in the state of Indiana played basketball, and his dad played basketball in college, so his dad struggled somewhat when he stopped playing.

The expectation was never for this kid to play professional golf. 

He didn’t start playing competitive golf until 12 years old, which means he started playing at a much later age than others. The expectations from every round of golf were to have fun, learn something, have a positive experience and make a friend.

In an eighth grade tournament, he shot an 89 in the first round. In the car ride, they didn’t discuss the round at all—only the excellent par on the last hole. He responded by shooting a 71 the next day.

Patrick Rodgers’ development and passion for golf took off in high school.

His dad and mom always allowed golf to be their son’s thing. They didn’t push. Patrick ended up playing golf at Stanford, tied Tiger Woods’ record with eleven wins, became the number-one ranked collegiate golfer, won the Ben Hogan award, and turned professional after his junior season.

Stories about late-bloomers, two or three star athletes are numerous. The mental toughness tip is to be patient and remember kids are as only as good as their practice and passion towards it. The passion of a player translates into their dedication, work-ethic, and overall mentality. 

mental toughness tip

Dr. Rob Bell Mental Toughness

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 on Mental Toughness