by Brian Dalek February 10, 2012, 10:00 am EST
Thomas Dold has mastered the stairwell of the Empire State Building. See how you can get on his tail.
On Wednesday night, 666 people (seriously) put themselves through their own form of hell by taking the long way to the top of one the tallest buildings in the world when they scaled the Empire State Building from its stairwell. That’s 1,576 steps and 86 flights of hamstring- and gluteal-writhing agony all the way to the building’s glowing observation deck. (more…)
by Craig Harper
No Frills Personal Development
It’s become apparent that not everyone connects with, relates to or gains value from the traditional personal development language or paradigm. Or words like paradigm (for that matter). Many of my readers have shared with me that their partner (sister, brother, mother, father, boss) needs to hear these (types of) messages but they seem to have an aversion to anything that smells like ‘motivational speaker’. To be honest, I don’t blame them. Some motivational speakers are a little smelly. (more…)
By GINA KOLATA
Published: September 19, 2011
The trained bicyclists thought they had ridden as fast as they possibly could. But Kevin Thompson, head of sport and exercise science at Northumbrian University in England, wondered if they go could even faster.
So, in an unusual experiment, he tricked them.
In their laboratory, Dr. Thompson and his assistant Mark Stone had had the cyclists pedal as hard as they could on a stationary bicycle for the equivalent of 4,000 meters, about 2.5 miles. After they had done this on several occasions, the cyclists thought they knew what their limits were.
Then Dr. Thompson asked the cyclists to race against an avatar, a figure of a cyclist on a computer screen in front them. Each rider was shown two avatars. One was himself, moving along a virtual course at the rate he was actually pedaling the stationary bicycle. The other figure was moving at the pace of the cyclist’s own best effort — or so the cyclists were told.
In fact, the second avatar was programmed to ride faster than the cyclist ever had — using 2 percent more power, which translates into a 1 percent increase in speed.
New Orleans Saints cult hero Steve Gleason battling ALS
Today is the five-year anniversary of the highlight of Steve Gleason’s football career — his epic blocked punt against the Atlanta Falcons in the official reopening of the post-Katrina Superdome. It was a seminal moment in his life, the exclamation point to an inspirational eight-year career that saw him rise from relative obscurity to cult hero status in the city he would eventually call home.
The New Orleans Saints invited him to serve as a ceremonial team captain for today’s game against the Houston Texans at the Superdome. He’ll handle the coin toss and initiate the ceremonial Who Dat chant before kickoff.
He’ll undoubtedly receive a thunderous ovation from the sellout crowd of 73,000 but many fans won’t understand why Gleason is moving so slowly on the field.
Gleason has been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, a rare terminal disease that damages the nerves that control voluntary muscle movement.
Mental toughness is a psychological quality that allows peak performance in any endeavor. Since the brain acts as a central processing unit for the muscles and nerves, mental toughness is particularly relevant if you seek to maximize performance in sports. Sports psychology has developed into a profession and focuses on the development of mental toughness for athletic purposes.
Mental toughness is the psychological edge that allows you to perform at the peak of your ability in a challenging endeavor. It consists of six attributes: self-confidence, motivation, focus, poise under pressure, courage and resiliency. These attributes can be developed through the use of goal-setting, imagery and focus training.
In order to motivate yourself, you must set clear goals. These goals must be realistic, because self-confidence in your ability to attain unrealistic goals in unjustified and ultimately discouraging. Your goals must also be challenging, because it is difficult to get motivated over a goal that is too easy to achieve. Finally, goals must be specific and measurable, so you will know when you have attained them and can regularly chart your progress.
Visualization is simply using your imagination to train. This will help build neural pathways that can produce measurable increases in your coordination. In some ways, it is superior to physical training–although it should be used to supplement rather than replace physical training–because you can train anywhere, any time without exhaustion.
Nevertheless, it may take time for you to develop the visual imagination necessary to vividly imagine knocking out an opposing boxer time and again. At advanced levels, you will be able to “rewind” and “fast forward” your visualization, and even put it into slow motion, so you can carefully analyze each move you must make. In addition, vividly imagining success in advance can improve your self-confidence.
Athletes and coaches talk about the mental game being as important as the physical game. The U.S. military tries to instill mental toughness in soldiers. Mental toughness allows you to persevere through adversity to achieve your goals, whether they be athletic, military or intellectual. You can cultivate mental toughness by following the practices of others.
Dr. Curt Ickes, a clinical psychologist and author of “Mental Toughness: Getting the Edge,” says athletes need to be relaxed a times when the instinct might be to be tense, such as when the batter steps up to hit against a pitcher. He teaches athletes to empty their minds and not think about anything but what he calls “the instant of performance.”
The Marine Corps has used mindfulness training to prepare soldiers for duty in Iraq. Mindfulness training teaches soldiers to be fully aware of their surroundings without reacting to them emotionally. Reacting to stressful situations can cause cognitive impairment that can inhibit decision-making and delay reaction time.
Visualization involves picturing yourself accomplishing your goal, whether it’s hitting a home run or completing a term paper. Imagine how achieving your goal will feel and take yourself mentally through the steps needed to achieve your goal. Positive affirmations can be another part of the process.
Trusting in your own abilities–having confidence that you will meet your goal–can carry you over many obstacles and keep you mentally tough. When John Wayne Creasy of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University surveyed 10 National Collegiate Athletic Association coaches, they ranked confidence in one’s own ability as the No. 1 attribute necessary for mental toughness. Preparation builds confidence, asserts David Yukelson, coordinator of Sport Psychology Services at the Morgan Academic Support Center at Penn State University. Dwelling on past successes instead of failures can also build confidence.
Mental Toughness Exercises
Sean Hyson, conditioning coach and fitness editor of “Men’s Fitness” magazine, defines mental toughness as “the ability to maintain the focus and determination to complete a course of action despite difficulty or consequences.” Anyone can improve their mental toughness through training and practice. Mental toughness will help you overcome many different types of obstacles in athletic endeavors as well as in off-the-field pursuits such as work and relationships.
Clarify Your Goals
You can’t get to where you want to be if you don’t know where you’re going, and you will have no motivation to go there if you don’t know why you are going. Do some soul searching to discover what you truly desire, and set your goals accordingly. Record these goals in a notebook. Each goal should be accompanied by the reason why you are pursuing it, based on your deepest desires. Review your notebook frequently.
Seize Control of Your Mind
Rachel Cosgrove, strength and conditioning coach and triathlete, notes that everyone is subject to a constant internal dialogue going on in their minds. One key to mental toughness is to seize control of that dialogue.
You must first train yourself to become aware of your thoughts as they occur. Then learn to identify negative thoughts and replace them with positive, but realistic ones. One example would be to replace complaining and blaming thoughts with problem-solving thoughts.