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What this 62-year-old plank world record-holder can teach you about physical limits

George Hood set a new plank world record at a mind-boggling eight hours, 15 minutes and 15 seconds

Former U.S. marine George Hood set a world record on February 15 in Chicago after planking for eight hours, 15 minutes and 15 seconds. With his performance, Hood, 62, set a great example for endurance athletes, showing that when things get tough and you start to hurt, it doesn’t mean you can’t keep pushing forward.

Hood was a previous record-holder in this category after planking for just over three hours in 2013. At the Plank World Cup in 2016, Hood lost to Mao Weidong of China, who set a record of eight hours, one minute and one second. Last week, Hood officially reclaimed his title before announcing his retirement from plank record attempts.

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As you could probably guess, the record didn’t come easily for Hood. In preparation for the attempt, Hood told Carol Off of CBC’s As It Happens that he trained for thousands of hours over the 18 months leading up to the event.

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“That included about four to five hours’ plank time each day,” he said, in addition to 700 pushups and 2,000 crunches per day. Even with all of that training and preparation, Hood still encountered dark moments during his record-setting plank.

“Every long plank I do in training, and obviously the main event, has at least one moment when that demon creeps into your head, jumps on your back, and starts to tell you, you know, create self-doubt and so forth.”

Hood said that it was around the six-hour mark that he began to question whether he could hold on for the record.

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“I remember looking at the coach and said, ‘Where is hour six? Can you give me hour six?’ And I wasn’t there yet. And when I make that time call and I’m not where I think I should be — that can be devastating.”

Silhouette of an exhausted sportsman at sunset

Although many of us probably won’t do anything as intense as an eight-hour plank, that doesn’t mean that dark times and doubts won’t come when we’re on a run. It’s very easy to give in to those feelings, those voices that say it’s time to quit, but Hood proves that they don’t carry much weight. If you distract yourself (in Hood’s case, he uses music and the people around him for this), you can overcome those tough periods and eventually break through the barriers.

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Next time you’re on a training run or in a race and something along the lines of “I can’t do this any more,” enters your head, distract yourself by thinking about Hood and dig deep to find a little more strength than you knew you had.