Why I Am Doing an Ironman


build mental toughness.

“The Hangover,” distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures.

Stay with the PAIN to Build Mental Toughness

  • I once fell off an 80-foot cliff and lay at the bottom until the EMS unit craned me out. I had a broken wrist, my head was gashed open, and my lower back was in an extreme amount of pain. I had to take a daily regiment of Hydrocodone and still could only make it through half the day.
  • At another low point, I was in a car accident and struck the windshield so hard that it broke my jaw and my collarbone. They had to wire my jaw and 8 weeks later removed the wires from my mouth. It felt like razor blades slicing through my gums.
  • As a sophomore in high school, I was the starting second baseman and made an error to lose a game. I felt like such a loser that my head was in my hands the entire bus ride home. I ended up losing my starting position.
  • As a caddy, I even dropped a golf ball during a professional event and cost my player two shots during the tournament!

These four instances surfaced as either physical or mental pain. However, no physical pain is without mental pain. In all of these, I had messed up, and although the physical pain soon passed, what remained were the beliefs and feelings about myself.

The residue of not feeling good enough weighed more heavily than any trophy and that does not build mental toughness. 

If you have broken a bone or failed, then you understand how bad it hurt at the moment.

However, the most interesting part about pain is that it fades… that pain becomes generalized. One cannot go back and recreate just how bad or painful it precisely was, we just remember that it hurt. That is why they say, “time heals…”

Now, time does not heal completely. Pain leaves scars. But, we have a choice in how we move forward; we can choose either the pain of discipline or the pain of regret.

Hold onto that pain to help your mental toughness.

Yes, we must move on, but try to never forget that pain completely.

Addicts, we call this remembering our rock bottom! In order to build mental toughness means being able to stay in touch with the pain and still not be consumed by it.  Pain can help us with our gratitude, because we realize we are no longer in that state. It also assists with our focus and motivation. We are now driven toward another goal and way of being.

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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.

pain of discipline or pain of regret

Pain of Discipline OR Pain of Regret

I encountered a painful reminder on the 5k race.

I ran and pushed my daughter in the stroller. My mileage and tempo was no longer where it needs to be to set PR’s, but I figured I could still win at least the stroller division! Here’s where I encountered both the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. 

At mile 2, I was passed by a mother pushing her daughter and as bad as I wanted, I just couldn’t keep up. I had no response and she took off…It was bad; I finished almost a minute behind her and limped in at a 7:31 minute pace.

Now, I can make as many excuses I want—not training enough, or having the time, or not making running a priority— all truths, but they are just well thought out excuses.


The point is that I experienced the pain of not being able to respond and getting beat. PAIN…

Now, there is another type of pain that athletes face.

  • Getting up early,
  • pushing oneself in practice,
  • experiencing setbacks, and getting better.

The pain of discipline is all about—Being All In. 

I spoke with the winner of the race who finished in 14:59, um, pretty fast, and  he said “it hurt.” PAIN of discipline or pain of regret. 

When we are all in, we are committing ourselves to doing the things we always don’t want to do. We are going to face pain, we are going to hurt, whether it is emotional or physical pain. But do we want to face it in practice or competition?

If we face the pain and discomfort in practice, it is the pain of discipline. If we only face the pain during competition, it usually turns into the pain of regret.

Check out a past post here on pain of discipline: How to run a marathon, write a book, and make a hole in one. 

Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out the most recent book on Mental Toughness-