To race your at your fastest, your brain needs a taper as much as your body does

Runner's World (UK) - - Body+ Mind -

IN THE LATE 1880s, an Ital­ian phys­i­ol­o­gist named An­gelo Mosso made a cu­ri­ous ob­ser­va­tion: he tested the mus­cu­lar en­durance of two fel­low pro­fes­sors be­fore and af­ter they gave a se­ries of oral exams and found that their mus­cles tired more quickly af­ter their men­tal ef­forts. It was the first demon­stra­tion that men­tal fa­tigue af­fects phys­i­cal per­for­mance – a les­son to re­mem­ber in the days lead­ing up to a race. Just as you taper your mileage to make sure your legs are ready to race, you should also taper your mind.

Mind power

Men­tal im­agery can be pow­er­ful: if you’re in­jured and im­mo­bilised in a cast, for ex­am­ple, you can main­tain some of your mus­cle strength by imag­in­ing con­trac­tions of the im­mo­bilised mus­cles. But there’s a cost: in 2014, Cana­dian re­searchers found that vi­su­al­is­ing a fa­tigu­ing ac­tion de­creased mus­cu­lar en­durance in a sub­se­quent test. Vi­su­al­is­ing your race is a great way to pre­pare to achieve your goals, but ease off in the days lead­ing up to your race.

Stress re­cess

The longer the race, the longer you’ll have to main­tain your fo­cus, so men­tal fa­tigue is a par­tic­u­lar con­cern in races of 10K or longer. So the days be­fore an im­por­tant race are not the time to, say, write that job ap­pli­ca­tion. If you’re trav­el­ling to an over­seas race, con­sider ar­riv­ing an ex­tra night early. And try to make as many de­ci­sions as pos­si­ble in ad­vance: book your pre­race din­ner reser­va­tion, fig­ure out your race-day lo­gis­tics and find a good book to read or movie to watch. Oh, and turn off your work email. You’ve in­vested a lot of ef­fort to get your body in peak form, so make sure your mind is just as primed to com­pete.

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