Mary Baum

The Mental Challenge in Exercise

How many times have you been in knee deep in a workout, and all you want to do is throw in the towel? You are breathing crazy hard, your legs and arms are exhausted, but you still have a few repeats left.

What do you do?

Do you give into that feeling of fatigue? Your body just can not make it any longer. Or do you push it that extra step, the extra lap, or that extra repeat? Sure, your body wants to stop. It’s hard, and your muscles recognize that.

At swim practice on Wednesday night, my teammates and I were directly faced with this challenge. We tackled the following:

We started the sets of 100’s at a very easy interval. We were instructed to finish what we could. If we made the interval, no matter how much rest we had in front of us, we kept going. Simple enough.

We were all chatting in between sets, and ended up having about a minute of rest each time. Each time we went into a new set of 100’s, we got less and less of a break, hence the progression. Once we got below the 2 minute mark, everyone really started to feel the workout. I was hitting 1:31’s almost every 100, so my goal was to make it through the sets of 1:40. Once I got to that set, I ended up having about 8-9 seconds rest. I was at the quitting point. I was gasping for air each time I stopped at the wall, and all I wanted to do was take a break with my other teammates that had already not made the next interval.

Rather than listening to my body, I kept going. I did another 100, then kept going again. I made it through each 100 even though I so badly wanted to stop. And the best part – I didn’t even drown. It is amazing how much further we are able to push our bodies than we think possible. I believe that this mindset is where the experience of being coached for so many years comes from. Having someone coach you and tell you that you can do it – tackle the workout – well you actually start to believe it after a while. There were so many times when I ran cross-country at UCF that I thought I was going to die after a workout. And guess what, I didn’t die. I just kept getting better.

Believe in yourself and you will be shocked at how far (and hard) you can push your body towards your goals. Seriously, just give it a try. Tell yourself you can do it, and you might just surprise yourself ;)

Enough swim talk – now it’s time for food!!

Cherry Chocolate Bread

I made this last week at the same time that I made the Pumpkin Oat Bread. I figured I would try them both out, and then see which one I liked better, and then would feature it here. As luck would have it, I liked them both, so voila! Another yummy bread recipe :)

What you will need:

1/3 cup Greek yogurt

1/3 cup sugar

1 Tbsp vanilla extract

2 eggs

1 & 3/4 cup flour

1 tsp baking power

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups of fresh, whole cherries

1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

To start, preheat your oven to 350. Then, pit all of the cherries. It takes a few extra minutes, but this is obviously a vital step to the recipe. I did it over the sink, as it does have the tendency to get a little bit messy.

After pitting the cherries, put them back in the original measuring cup, and smash them. I used a large wire wisk. Make sure that you squish them pretty well, as the juice from the cherries is a welcome addition.



After smashing the cherries. set them to the side. Get out your blender, and add the first two ingredients. Blend until combined. Add the vanilla extract and the eggs, and continue to beat well.  Then, take all other dry ingredients and add to the egg mixture, about a cup at a time. Slowly start adding the cherries and chocolate chips, until everything is smoothly mixed together.

Pour the batter in a standard loaf pan (after spraying with non-stick spray), and put it in the oven for 45 minutes.

Don’t worry – it will look a little bit funny! The cherries give it a bit of a purple/blue hue for sure! The loaf is done when you can insert a toothpick or knife through the center and it comes out clean.

I went ahead and topped it with Vanilla Greek yogurt (just like the pumpkin bread), and it turned out great. It was an amazing breakfast, and it wasn’t too sweet since I used semi-sweet chocolate chips instead of the milk chocolate.


Do you have the ability to push yourself past the point that you think you can complete? Have you ever tried it and succeeded (or failed)? What about the chocolate cherry bread – love or hate cherries in food?

9 Responses

  1. Jessica
    Jessica September 7, 2012 at 10:04 am |

    I have been feeling like this but in running. I don’t if it’s the heat or what but every time I have seriously wanted to throw in the towel and start walking. Thanks to some awesome buddies I haven’t yet. :)

  2. Em
    Em September 7, 2012 at 5:31 pm |

    I completed my first marathon this spring, and training for that was when I learned to push beyond my mental limits. It’s amazing how far the body will go! I’ve definitely found myself pushing my limits more and more. I love the way I feel afterward.
    The bread looks amazing! I’m going to have to try it. I love cherries!!

  3. Pavement Runner
    Pavement Runner September 7, 2012 at 7:57 pm |

    Oh man, I super love cherries… especially pie or in cake.

  4. Carrie @ Fitness and Frozen Grapes
    Carrie @ Fitness and Frozen Grapes September 8, 2012 at 8:41 pm |

    Developing mental strength is easier said than done. I’ve been a semi-serious runner for a little more than one year, and I’m just starting to figure how how mental it really is. Sure, we’ve all heard running is 90 percent mental and 10 percent training, but it’s totally different to experience it firsthand. But I’m slowly getting used to it. Oh, and the bread looks delicious! :)

  5. Rainy Day Running
    Rainy Day Running September 10, 2012 at 7:02 am |

    […] is no one near as long – I just have to be ok with being bored. It might even help with mental toughness too! I’m willing to give it a […]

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