Psychological vs Physical strain during workouts

My question is I guess very simple to ask, but maybe more complex to answer: how much of an intense workout (say vo2 max repeats or long sets of over/unders) does the mental effort account for vs the physical?

I’m new to structured training and my experiences over the last year have lead me to reflect repeatedly upon this question. A significant portion of my workouts I feel like my body wants to to quit 100%, but I push through (perhaps to a fault) and find the mental space I need to be in to suffer further. Visualizing goals, using the proper language in my internal dialogue, and staying focused almost feel more important than the muscles in my legs.

I assure you that your body has way more than your mind does. I will refer you to the books How Bad Do You Want It, The Brave Athlete and Endure. If you have found strategies to further your workouts mentally then great, but you are not working past your physiological limit and doing yourself harm. The only exception would be pain due to an injury or a medical condition. In those instances you should not push through and are likely doing more harm than good.


I think this is kind of what I’m getting at. It’s my assumption I’m not at all near my limit as nothing broke and my heart didn’t explode (lucky for me). I’m also not saying I’m mentally strong and physically weak or the inverse. It just occurs to me that suffering is both a mental and physical thing and I’m interested to understand how enduring this suffering relates to mental states vs physical effort.

Thank you for the suggestions I’ll definitely check them out.