The Inner Voice

The video below may be a professionally produced commercial, but that does not diminish the significance of the story that unfolds.

I cannot tell you how many times I have seen similar situations play out in the real world. This evil voice has deceived many. Even accomplished athletes are susceptible to the deceit.

Just last week I had an athlete overcome his inner voice on a brutal mountain road. As we neared the end, I sensed the evil voice whispering in his ear. It had already been a strenuous day in the gym, and the mountain served as a finisher (and mental test).

The steep conclusion to the road gave his inner voice an opportunity to appear. It sensed the struggle, and jumped at the chance to break him. I was just getting ready to chime in when out of nowhere, a woman who saw us from her yard blurted out, “Don’t stop now, you are almost there. You can’t stop now!”

The woman caught us both by surprise. Neither of us saw her. She probably thought she was speaking to a casual jogger. She was actually encouraging to a top ranked professional fighter. Yet oddly enough, it was her words that silenced his inner voice. He finished the last quarter mile with an effort that surprised me.


The inner voice tries desperately to block everything but its annoying tone. It will say anything to fool you into quitting. In our case, it was beginning to control the situation until a third party spoke up. Her unexpected words snapped him back to reality. He shook off the kryptonite and regained the strength that had existed all along.

Success came from the mind. Clearly, the body was capable of completing the run. The fact that he finished is all the proof we need. The inner voice tried to interfere. It wanted to fool him. Fortunately, it failed.

The significance of this situation is monumental. So often I see arguments over workout systems, rep schemes, periodization models, and supplement usage. I can only imagine how many gigabytes of bandwidth have been wasted on such message board debates. What many fail to realize however is that our ability to block the inner voice is often more important than anything. If you lack the ability to dig down and fight through difficult obstacles, it won’t matter what pills you pop or what routine you follow. When the going gets tough, you will break.

Learning to block this voice and tap into your hidden resources is perhaps the single most important discovery an athlete can make. A determined athlete who refuses to quit will succeed with almost any routine. Determination can turn nothing into something.

Don’t overlook the importance of these individual factors. More often than not, you have more potential than you will ever realize.


“If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.” – Frank A. Clark

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  1. A message that we can all use in every facet of life, whether it be to complete a routine, a fight, test preparation, injury, and other obstacles in life. Definitely a good message within this blog.

  2. Awesome video: Reminds me strongly of the “Gollum vs Smeagol” scene in Lord of the Rings ( Perhaps so powerful because we all recognise the same conflict in ourselves. We know what it is like to be at war with our own lazy, selfish nature.

    Great post Ross. Keeping it real for the rest of us..

  3. Great blog. Reading your articles and forum has motivated me to begin pushing through pain and keep going when I feel I have nothing left. This has given me a better attitude and more confidence in other areas of my life too when facing difficulty. I appreciate your work.

  4. There is a reason why I continue to read this blog. It is because of posts like these.

    Definitely needed to read this today.

    Thanks Ross.

  5. Amazing video and amazing post. I feel this way on squats pretty much every time I do them. The voice tells me “you’ve done enough, your legs are burning and you can hardly take another breath.” To be honest, most time I listen, but the times that I block out the voice and push out a few more reps are my most rewarding workouts. Check out this Michael Jordan video too, I really liked how he talks about his failure and the work he put in to get as good as he was

    Keep up the great work Ross

  6. i suffer from this evil voice… i either give up the moment it gets hard or find an excuse not to workout.

    i will keep this in mind next time the evil voice pipes up

  7. Very cool.

    It’s funny how inspiration and the will to dig deeper can come from the most unexpected sources.

    I think that it is also worth mentioning that, although that inner voice is often self defeating, it can also be trained and restructured into our greatest ally. Like many things, it takes a bit of practice and dedication to change it.

    Thanks for the post Ross!

  8. hey man, the words I read touched me.

    I was thinking about just yesterday went I went training and coach was pushing the team HARD…and I found myself slowly grinding to a halt.

    While I was reading this at first, I was picturing myself back in the gym with coach shouting at the top of his voice


    I felt sad (oddly enough) I felt like I was letting him down???

    But just reading the words you typed and then that video has set in my mind permanently.

    Thank you

  9. Great share Ross. Wisconsin Endurance Mountain Bike series has motto that” Sometimes the pain of quitting, can be worse than the pain of going on” which hits home for me.

    Be Well

  10. @Andre – Know what you are capable beforehand, and don’t let the voice convince you otherwise. Once you know/believe in what you can do, it’s much easier to silence those who suggest otherwise (including your own voice)

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