How to Build Mental Muscle

While hard at work (of course) this article from Runner’s World basically read itself to me…

How to Build Mental Muscle: New research reveals that if you really want that PR, you have to train your brain—hard.

By Alexander Hutchinson

September 16, 2013

How To Build Mental Muscle Oct 2013

Lately work has been nothing short of insane and there really isn’t much hope that it’ll let up over the next 3 yrs. Getting work outs in at the end of the day or, better yet, crammed in between time points, can be stressful, draining and not feel like the high quality work out that I was hoping for. Heading out the door, I want to either feel good and be able to enjoy the run or feel like I’m getting in a productive work out. God forbid both I do both… 😮 Lately however, running has seemed like just one more irritating, not particularly productive, task that must be crammed into an already full day. Not cool. Not cool at all.

So, while lamenting at my desk (now this is productivity) the above article imposed itself upon me with exactly what I needed to hear…

After a few weeks, I’d progressed to 30-minute brain sessions. Sometimes, following Marcora’s advice, I ran immediately after to practice running while mentally fatigued. The result was familiar: It felt like heading out for a run immediately after a stressful day of work or travel. It wasn’t so much that I couldn’t run faster—it just felt harder than usual. I’d check my pace partway through a run, realize that I needed to speed up, but be unable to summon the willpower to make it happen. The purpose of these combo sessions was to simulate the point in a race when your brain starts to feel fried, and practice pushing through it. Essentially, they were brain-training sessions, minus the shapes and letters…

Until recently, coaches and sports scientists believed runners should be as fresh as possible for workouts—well fueled and fully hydrated with rested legs. Now elite athletes sometimes do the opposite: train on empty stomachs and tired legs to stimulate the adaptations that help them cope with the rigors of racing. We’re due for the same shift when it comes to the brain, Marcora believes: Fresher isn’t always better. The military excels in training soldiers to function despite mental fatigue—forcing them to perform grueling marches when they’re already sleep deprived, for example. But it doesn’t have to be that crazy. If your brain is fried after a stressful day at work or a sleepless night with a sick kid, don’t follow the usual advice and reschedule the hard workout you had planned. Instead, embrace the mental fog and hammer the run. Yes, your times will be slower than usual, and the adenosine levels in your brain will be sky-high. You will hate running, and life in general, and Sam Marcora in particular. But if, a few months later, those please-stop-now runs translate into a PR, you’ll forgive him.

(While these more or less…maybe less than more…anyway…get the main point across, the whole article provides context and a good read.)

So, after work and during work workouts are going to be sticking around. The focus will be simply have to start shifting, well, to focus! Hopefully come November there will be a succesful Philly marathon and a shiny new PR to show for it.

Advertisements

4 Comments

Filed under Marathons, Trotting, Work out

4 responses to “How to Build Mental Muscle

  1. At first, I thought that your shoe-brain was made of circus peanuts. I was really excited. Like, REALLY excited.

    • Oh no! 😦 I hate to let you down by an unintentional circus peanuts bait and swtich, but at least they were switched out for shoes (admitedly not the coolest looking shoes, but still shoes none-the-less…)

  2. Pingback: Week 11 | DrTrot

  3. Pingback: Week 11 | DrTrot

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s