Episode 40

Published on:

31st May 2023

040 Shannon Mulcahy - Improving Mental Strength & Toughness

Episode Summary

Shannon Mulcahy is a mental strength coach with a Masters Degree in Sports & Exercise Psychology. She’s worked with clients ranging from world-champion swimmers to amateur and professional triathletes, runners and cyclists, to athletic departments and the military. Shannon knows the value of performing at your best when it counts most while having fun along the way.

Today, Whitney and Shannon discuss what it means to be mentally tough, tips and best practices for improving your mental strength, and understanding how the mind works in order to improve performance.

Episode Sponsor

Runner Click Pro – https://pro.runnerclick.com/

Key Takeaways

00:59 – Whitney Heins welcomes Shannon Mulcahy to the show to share her background as a mental strength coach and how she works with her athlete clients

09:52 – Defining mental strength

16:20 – Shannon’s experience working with collegiate programs and the military

19:06 – Ice baths and other ‘toughness’ practices

24:18 – Everyday tips and best practices for improving our mental toughness

34:05 – Negative thoughts and strategies to override them

40:59 – Visualization

46:04 – Meditation and deliberate breathing

56:49 – Whitney thanks Shannon for joining the show

Tweetable Quotes

“A little bit with sports psychology is you have this side of it where it’s more mental-health based, and then you have the side that’s much more performance-based. And that’s where I fall.” (06:55) (Shannon)

“[Mental strength] is really just looking at the circumstances that you have, understanding that there’s stress, and dealing with it in whatever way is going to be best for you.” (13:01) (Shannon)

“I’m not necessarily a big biohacking fan and saying, ‘You don’t need to take this cold bath,’ or these very tangible, specific things. I am a person that promotes doing what’s going to work for you. I always say that step one is building awareness around you and your habits, your thoughts, and your emotions, so you can recognize when you’re starting to get uncomfortable and when you’re starting to feel out of control.” (24:53) (Shannon)

“When you’re doing something really hard, your brain to some extent is saying, ‘We can’t do this. We can’t keep going.’ And it feels impossible. Deep down, somewhere inside you, you know that you can, but your brain is telling you, ‘No, stop. We don’t like this.’” (30:26) (Shannon)

“Negative thoughts are very common; they are very normal. They are not necessarily bad. Yes, we maybe want to minimize them or shift them. However, you will not ever ever be able to get rid of all of your negative thoughts. So, if that is your goal, that will not happen. Brains do not allow that to happen. So, we need to adjust our expectations.” (34:45) (Shannon)

“We all know in the moment, when your brain is not in a great place, it is really hard to change it. And once you’re physically pushing yourself, especially pretty hard, you have less brain power essentially to argue with yourself or reframe those thoughts. It gets more challenging.” (40:00) (Shannon)

“The more stress that you have - whatever that stress is, whether it’s physical, work, training, family - the more that’s going on, the more self-care you have to do.” (54:57) (Shannon)

Resources Mentioned

Shannon’s Website – https://www.mulcahyperformance.com/

Shannon’s LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/shannon-mulcahy-19291830/

Books Mentioned:

Mind Gym – Mind Gym: An Athlete’s Guide to Inner Excellence

Do Hard Things – Do Hard Things: Why We Get Resilience Wrong and the Surprising Science of Real Toughness

Whitney’s LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/whitney-heins-02ba3b5

The Mother Runners Club – https://www.themotherrunners.com/


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About the Podcast

The Passionate Runner
Running has so many benefits for the mind, body, & soul. But it can be SO hard to keep going because, let’s face it, RUNNING IS HARD!

Join lifelong runner, running coach, and mother of two, Whitney Heins, as she talks with experts in areas such as nutrition, training and physical therapy to share their insider knowledge so you can run your best & BE your best in the time that you have.

If you’re an avid runner, we’re here to help you understand the science, simplify the complicated and remove hurdles so that your next run is not only fun and fulfilling, but fuels you with passion and purpose.