Put Your Mind To Rest Think your way faster
Overcome your brain’s annoying tendency to slow you down
YOUR LEGS ARE SCREAMING and you’re sure this is as fast – or as far – as you can go. When you feel as if you can’t run another step, it’s natural to assume your body has had enough. But science suggests your mind is slowing you down prematurely, and you possess more power than you realise. Researchers tested the mus cle contractions of runners over 20km. Some ran normally, their muscles contracting on their own – the brain in control. Another group’s muscles were contracted via electrical stimulation – the muscles were forced to contract externally without the brain’s input. The first group’s muscle contractions weakened after 15km. But the other group’s contractions were as strong at the end of the 20km as they were at the start of the run. This suggests the brain can convince the body it’s tired even when muscles are still able to work hard.
‘We’re wired to leave something in the tank,’ says sports psychologist Jim Taylor. ‘Years ago, when we hunted for meals, we needed to conserve energy to get back home. Our minds want to make sure we don’t fatigue completely.’
Taylor says that with practice you can learn to defy the brain’s overprotective nature to see just how fast and far you can really go. First things first: you have to put in proper training to perform your best. Mental strategies alone won’t propel you to a PB. But while you’re hammering out the long runs, you can work to break down the hurdles in your mind to reveal