David Goggin’s Subjugation of Pain
Running 203.5 miles straight is unfeasible. That’s over two days of sustained running. David Goggins, an ex-Navy SEAL, ultrarunner, and motivational speaker, has consistently pushed the boundaries of what is believed to be the body’s limits. However, Goggins claims that his mental fortitude is what enables his exceptional endurance. His perspective on life is quite resonating, especially when he describes life as “one big tug of war between mediocrity and trying to find your best self”.
Mediocrity is unfulfilling. Many people plateau at mediocrity — whether it be academics, music, dance, or athletics, a lack of progress is disheartening. The problem is solely internal; a closed, conventional mindset inhibits one from breaking out of mediocrity and becoming exceptional. This mindset is flawed because of one thing: it lacks “mind”. By ignoring the subliminal, one solely relies on reason and logic. But this logic is flawed. Perhaps it is flawed, because it relies too heavily on logic. If one considers the body as partly a mere vehicle used to execute the contents of the mind, it begins to make sense why pure logic can fail quite quickly. David Goggins notes that “when you think you’re done, you’re only at 40% of your body’s capability”.
The reason David Goggins has been a majorly successful athlete and overall person is a result of his refusal to accept what his body tells him. This idea is slightly confusing, and one must first acknowledge how and why humans feel pain. When sensory receptors on the exterior of our body send a message via nerve fibres (A-delta fibres and C fibres) to the spinal cord and brainstem, pain will be registered by the brain and accordingly felt by the subject (in this case, us). The body is not what truly controls pain; rather, it is the mind. Thus, no amount of physical training can repair what is broken within the mind. Goggins notes that he “doesn’t stop when he’s tired” but instead when “he’s done”. He has actively rewired his mind to ignore these pain signals from the body, effectively improving himself from the core rather than the shell. Athletes must acknowledge that pain exists but follow a philosophy in line with that of David Goggins; realizing that pain is from the mind and not the body should change the way one looks at endurance and limits. The ultimate way to approach this is to unite one’s mind and body such that one’s body will never serve as a limiter but rather a tool that will successfully execute the will of one’s strong mind.