HomeStandard StyleDeveloping your mental stamina for strong finish

Developing your mental stamina for strong finish

Despite leading the pack for most of the 42,2km race, exhaustion set in for Hyvon Ngetich (29), and her body started to shut down as she approached the 37-km mark. With just two-tenths of a kilometre left to run the athlete began to wobble and stagger, before she eventually fell to the ground. But determined not to give up, Ngetich never stopped moving forward and instead crawled on all fours, with her eyes permanently on the prize. She was even pursued by members of the race team’s medical team who offered her a wheelchair, but still Ngetich refused to buckle under the pressure. If Ngetich received help, she would have immediately been disqualified from the race.

Inspiration with Cynthia Hakutangwi

Hyvon Ngetich crawls to the finish line
Hyvon Ngetich crawls to the finish line

Ngetich had her eyes firmly on the prize. At one point she was pictured gasping for breath as she struggled to carry on. But instead, with bloody knees and elbows and her hands stained from the pavement, Ngetich took third place among a pack of top female runners at the 2015 Austin Marathon and Half Marathon in Texas, United States. The athlete refused to give up. After crossing the finishing line, she was immediately rushed to a medical tent where she was treated for a dangerously low blood sugar. Fellow Kenyan runner Cynthia Jerop took first prize after running the race in two hours, 54 minutes, 22 seconds. But it was Ngetich who won the praise and applause from spectators. Austin Marathon race director John Conley told her she had “run and crawled the bravest race” and even offered to adjust the prize money, so she would receive the same amount as if she had come second. Conley added: “You have earned much honour. You ran the bravest race and crawled the bravest crawl I have ever seen in my life.”

But Ngetich said it is quite simply just what she does. “In running, you have to keep going,” she said.

How do you keep going when the odds are against you?

In this second half of the year, as you review your goals and shift around your priorities, schedules and deadlines to align with your 2016 plans, it takes extra strength to focus and keep going towards the finish line. With so many things that could have come your way during the course of the year, sometimes you find yourself wondering whether your dreams and goals are still worth pursuing after all. Discouragement and distractions can come from so many directions and formats. How do you keep going when the odds are against you? How do you renew your faith to achieve your set goals? What do you tell yourself when there are so many other voices within and around you encouraging you to throw in the towel? How can you grow your mental stamina so that it can fight for you when you don’t feel like going on anymore? Hyvon Ngetich had every reason to stop and accept the wheelchair from the medical team but her mental aptitude told her to keep her eyes firmly on the prize. How strong is your mental aptitude and how can you develop its muscle so that it can push you to continue when you have lost your natural determination?

Mental toughness beyond intelligence

Have you ever wondered what makes someone a good athlete? Or a good leader? Or a good parent? Why do some people accomplish their goals while others fail? What makes the difference? Usually we answer these questions by talking about the talent of top performers. There is more to consider beyond mere ability. In fact, when you start looking into it, your talent and your intelligence do not play nearly as big of a role as you might think. Some research studies have found that intelligence only accounts for 30% of your achievement. So, what makes a bigger impact than talent or intelligence? Mental toughness. Research is starting to reveal that your mental toughness plays a more important role than anything else for achieving your goals in health, business, and life. That is good news because you cannot do much about the genes you were born with, but you can do a lot to develop mental toughness. Why is mental toughness so important and how can you develop more of it?

What makes you mentally tough?

What does mental toughness and perseverance actually look like in the real world? Mentally tough athletes are more consistent than others. They don’t miss workouts. They don’t miss assignments. They always have their teammates back. Mentally tough leaders are more consistent than their peers. They have a clear goal that they work towards each day. They don’t let short-term profits, negative feedback, or hectic schedules prevent them from continuing the march towards their vision. They make a habit of building up the people around them — not just once, but over and over and over again. Mentally tough artists, writers, and employees deliver on a more consistent basis than most. They work on a schedule, not just when they feel motivated. They approach their work like a professional, not an amateur. They do the most important thing first and don’t dodge responsibilities.

Cynthia Hakutangwi is a communications and personal development consultant, life coach, author, and strategist.

She is the managing consultant of Wholeness Incorporated. Her newly published book is entitled Destination Wholeness – Going Beyond Brokenness. Previously published titles include The Whole You – Vital Keys for Balanced Living and Intelligent Conversations: A mindset shift towards a developed Africa. She is co-author of Success Within Reach. E-mail: Facebook: Wholeness Incorporated. Website:

Recent Posts

Stories you will enjoy

Recommended reading