How To Have A Strong Endurance Mindset

I follow an Ultra Runner from San Diego named Hector Rodriguez (@hrod619).

Hector had an amazing 2020 year of crushing endurance events. Even during a pandemic he kept training and competing. Virtually and in person.

I started following Hector because he is from San Diego where I spent over 20 years of my life.

When I began to keep up with his progress and his endurance accomplishments. I thought to myself this is a guy that really gets it! He understands what endurance sports is all about. Training the mind and the body to withstand pain or hardship. Training to have the ability and strength to continue despite fatigue, stress or other adverse conditions.

What has stood out most to me about Hector is his use of Mantras for his own motivation in training and racing.

One that he refers to often is “Chopping Wood”.

It resonates with me so much I have found myself thinking about it on my own runs.

I remember when I was training for my first Ironman. There was a large slab of concrete the size of a driveway out back of our house that needed to be removed. Broken up, hand loaded and taken to concrete recycling.

Most people would use a jackhammer to break this up. Many would hire labor to take it away.

Since I was training for an Ironman I decided to use this slab of concrete as part of my training. Every morning I’d go out with a sledgehammer and I would swing away chipping at it and breaking off a chunk at a time.

During my training I would think about my hard work in my backyard. Swinging away strong.

That was my mantra for training for that race and finishing it reaching my race day goals. “Swing Away Strong”.

Since I also used to be a boxer Swing Away Strong reminded me I was a fighter and ready for the endurance fight.

Much like chopping wood. Anyone who has had to have wood for fire to keep warm knows the hard work that goes into chopping wood. Each swing chopping away. Piece by piece until you are finished with the wood pile.

Your hands may hurt, shoulders burn, heart rate beating high. It can be mentally and physically challenging as well as exhausting. You then have to stack it.

It is hard work!

While I have been running thinking about chopping wood. This mantra to me means one piece of the run at a time, section by section.

You see as you run longer distances or at higher speed and intensity you start to become uncomfortable. Some call this entering the pain cave where your body wants to give up. Your mind too if you let it!

If you have a strong mantra. You can get through this cave without losing pace or stopping.

I was on a run Tuesday. The conditions were terrible! Ice, snow, cold air and hills.

I kept telling myself in my head. I’m just chopping wood. One step. One section at a time.

Keep chopping away and you will complete this training run and be stronger because of it.

It was a mind shift.

The negativity of thinking about the conditions of the trail dissipated and strength returned to my mind and my body. My ax was sharp and I chopped away finishing the run strong.

A Mantra is a statement or slogan repeated frequently to aid in concentration or focus.

As an endurance athlete it is important to have a strong mantra or two.

I wanted to learn what Hector’s definition of his own mantra is. So I contacted him and asked him.

He told me that Chopping Wood is working hard.

So if we are going to chop wood today, it means we are going to go work hard in whatever we are doing.

Each day he is putting in the hard work chopping away at his training towards his endurance and life goals.

The process of this has given him results that are inspiring to any endurance athlete or coach.

He has sharpened his ax and built his mind and body so strong to endure that he is currently training for the triple crown in 200 mile runs!

That is the power of a mantra!

Endurance is a mental sport and a strong mantra helps to create a strong mindset to endure training and events.

Another mantra I have used often in my training and competition is “I am strong!”

This is part of the reason in my own training I focus so much on training and feeling strong. Not just volume and endurance.

If I feel strong, I feel nothing can stop me. Not the distance, not the terrain or the weather. Mentally I have already won because I visualize myself unstoppable. I just need to physically finish.

Part of the reason that mantras are so powerful is that you start to use them during training, so that on race day you have an association with getting yourself through those tough training days or hitting your goal pace.

Put this mental shift into your training. What is your mantra?

Choppin Wood.

Swinging away strong.

I am strong.

Stronger with every step.


Steady forward momentum.

Get it done.

I’m tougher than this hill.

I’ve trained for this.

I can.

I breathe in strength and out weakness.

This is what I train for.

Finish strong.

Mantras should be short, motivational and actionable. They should be directed at yourself as motivation or direction. It is like having your own cheerleader or coach in your head to help keep you mentally tough.

To help you endure your training and your race.

Coaching the endurance athletes mindset is a key area of endurance training that is often ignored. When ignored it prevents you from finishing strong, for ultra endurance athletes not having a strong mental mindset may even lead to a DNF (Did Not Finish).

You don’t have to struggle mentally in your training or competition anymore! Take your training to the next level and perform at your best. Contact me today at the so we can start building your pillars of an endurance mindset today.




I help give endurance athletes a competitive edge. USA Level 2 Triathlon Coach, Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Precision Nutrition Level 2 Master Coach

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Joe Beckerley, CSCS

Joe Beckerley, CSCS

I help give endurance athletes a competitive edge. USA Level 2 Triathlon Coach, Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Precision Nutrition Level 2 Master Coach

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