Challenge the Body, Strengthen the Mind

A fitness regimen that pushes your physical limits can help step up your mental game. There are many fitness paths one can take, which can start from sports in early childhood or could be picked up as a part o the job like when you join the military. I’ve picked two fitness regimens that on the surface couldn’t be further from each other, yet both make me mentally stronger: Running and Weightlifting.

  • Running
    • I didn’t start running until I joined Air Force ROTC. I got interested in long-distance running when I moved to Germany in 2010 and continued to learn and train from there.
    • Half Marathons are my preferred distance for racing. I’ve completed a marathon once (USMC Marathon in 2015)…and I’m good.
    • I briefly served as an intern on the old school CrossFit Endurance (now known as Shift) seminar staff, where I learned about interval programming and how Technique > Intensity > Volume is the best way to properly learn a sport.
    • I’m a Pose Method Running Technique Specialist, where I learned even more emphasis on technique with the overarching goal to reduce potential injuries
      • I wrote my 2014 USMC CSC Thesis on “Improving the military’s running programs to minimize injury potential.”
    • Currently, I’m getting back into running. I know I have to be smart about how I properly integrate this type of training into my overall strategy because I want to stay injury so I can enjoy my other physical discipline…
  • Weightlifting
    • My first exposure was through CrossFit. I’ve completed the CrossFit Weightlifting seminar under Coach Beau Burgener (son of legendary Coach Mike Burgener)
    • After doing CrossFit for six years, I decided to focus on weightlifting for an extended period of time. I joined CrossFit 808 WLC under Coach Marcus Ofoia-Stevens, who remains my coach under Iron Athletics Weightlifting. I have a personalized program where I lift 3-4 times a week. 
    • When the world gets back to normal, I plan on training for a national weightlifting competition. Currently, I’m aiming to set new personal records in my 40s.
  • Mental benefits shared by both
    • Doing things physically hard helps build your “mind callouses” (David Goggins). The discipline needed to stay the course no matter how hard the work gets during your physical training can be immediately translated to your work ethic. You can’t get comfortable with being uncomfortable unless you purposefully expose yourself to these situations. Physical disciplines are an area where you can introduce and control a degree of the discomfort, but not avoid them altogether.
    • FOCUS. When it comes to running a race or going for a max lift, you need to be able to clear your mind and focus on the task at hand. The more reps you get from challenging yourself during practice, the easier you’ll be able to dismiss distractions and stay focused and you’ll be when it comes to game time. 
    • These are lifetime sports that are part of my meditation practice. When I’m running or weightlifting, I’m in a happy place even when I’m hurting (not an injury, just the difficulty of training). I gain peace every time I strap on my shoes and work up a sweat. I feel accomplished with every lift and use my discipline to get rid of any negative energy. I have found a community of like-minded people who share in these passions everywhere I go, and I plan on running and weightlifting for as long as I can.


  • For military members, you have to run, so train smartly. You don’t have to run a 5K every week. Check out episode 4 for my recommended training plans to get ready for your PT tests.
  • For weightlifters, find a good coach who can help you along the way. The sport is a humbling one, so be prepared to work hard. Reach out to a local coach to help you develop a personalized strategy to reach your goals.