Put Your Mind To Rest Think your way faster

Over­come your brain’s an­noy­ing ten­dency to slow you down

Runner's World (UK) - - In This Issue -

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

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