It’s All In Your Head

I read a very interesting feature in this month’s Runner’s World Magazine.

I’m such a dork…

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In this featured story (written by Alex Hutchinson) he talks about research being done on athletes training their brain for better race/performance results. Here is an insert from the story:

“There’s been a revolution in running science in the last few years. For a century, researchers have focused on the role of the heart, legs, and lungs to explain the limits of human endurance, but they’ve ignored the brain. Turns out, that was a mistake. It’s not lactate levels in your blood or oxygen shortages in your muscles that force you to slow down, it’s how your brain interprets those signals. In other words, the effort of running is only as hard as your brain perceives it to be”  Hutchinson, A. (2013, October) How To Build Mental Muscle. Runner’s World p 72. 

Now to me, this is not new news. Interesting, yes. I however, have believed (since I began running in 2011) that endurance sports are so much more mental than physical. Most things in our life are, right? If you constantly have negative thoughts: “I can’t do this” “It is too hard” “Running isn’t fun” “I don’t have the ability to do this” of course you are going to fail! Or at least not perform your best.

The story talks about researcher Samuele Marcora. Marcora was doing a study to test “brain endurance”.  At a confrence Marcora said:

“If you could train the brain to become more accustomed to mental fatigue, then – just like the body – it would adapt and the task of staying on pace would feel easier.” Hutchinson, A. (2013, October)  How To Build Mental Muscle. Runner’s World p 74.

I found this so incredibly interesting! I am always telling anyone who will listen (mainly my boyfriend ;)) how much my body as improved with my training. I am faster, stronger, more fit, I can run longer…This idea of training your brain seems so obvious! You have to go out and get the October issue of Runner’s World, if only for this story.

Today was my long run of the week. 14 miles, but I ended up doing 16 because I underestimated the distance. I actually was expecting to do 16 miles but it turned out to really be 18.4. I walked the last 2.4 miles home. I was tired!

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During my run today the idea of training your brain and mental muscle was going through my head. It was a hard run today. Miles 10-12 I was pretty much walking the whole time because of cramping. At mile 13 when I could finally run again I was trying so hard to stay positive. Finally at mile 16 – which is how far I planned to run – I stopped. I wanted to keep going, physically I know I could have but mentally I didn’t have it in me. I felt like a quitter. As I was walking home I texted my boyfriend that I felt like a quitter and he texted me back, “You did quite a bit more than was scheduled. Don’t see how that’s quitting.” I don’t call 2 miles quite a bit more, but he was right.

My run started in Fair Oaks today. Here is the bridge crossing the American River.

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Beautiful day today!

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I wanted to run through these sprinklers so bad! There were people around so I didn’t, then I thought “who cares”. Next time!

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It was really nice to run along the river. It has been a while since I have. In a few weeks I have an 18 mile run to do, so I’m sure I’ll be headed to the trail along the river for that run.

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Hope everyone has a good week! Happy running/training!

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2 thoughts on “It’s All In Your Head

  1. Nice job on finishing a 16 mile run! AND walking 2.5 miles after too. That must’ve been a tiring walk….although nice recovery. I love running along the river, and do most of my long runs there. I also often consider running through those sprinklers at the park. 🙂

    • You know, I didn’t even think of that as a cool down! It was though. That makes me feel better! You should run through the sprinklers & I will too next time!

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