Book Review - Brain Training for Runners by Matt Fitzgerald

SNAPSHOT

The brain has a lot more to do with your performance than you realize.

DIGGING DEEPER

I have a fascination with how the body and brain work together.  Fitzgerald quenches my thirst for knowledge and supports my experiences with his brain training theories.  

'The actual cause of running fatigue is a reduction in muscle activation by the brain that is influenced in part by declining energy stores.  This phenomenon is believed to serve as a protective mechanism that prevents us from running to the point where we seriously harm ourselves.' (page 3) 

The half marathon race is a good example of brain training.  On the course, you will see runners that can keep a consistently fast pace throughout the entire  race.  Then there are the runners that hit the wall at 11 miles and can't go any farther.  Their bodies revolt and stop running.  For them, it turns to intervals of walking and running until the finish line appears.  

What is the difference? Why are some runners not hitting a wall?  Fitzgerald contends that they have taught their brain to not shut down but instead trust that the body can endure the activity.  

How?  Practice. Putting yourself in the same position physically and mentally that will be expected during the race will prepare the brain for the challenge.  This makes the brain gain confidence that you can go from start to finish at the desired and practiced pace.  There are many ways to simulate the fatigue accumulated during a race.  

My favorite half-marathon workout to train your brain is a tempo/easy miles/tempo combination.  Start with 20 minutes of easy paced miles as a warm up.  Go into your tempo pace for 20 minutes. Slow down to an easy pace for the next 30 minutes.  Finish the workout at a tempo pace for 20 more minutes.  The fatigue that is accumulated during the first 70 minutes will simulate the challenge of a race pace without having to actually run the race. During the last tempo, you will gain by training your brain to withstand the pressure and continue on.

SOLUTION

Train realizing "It is all in your head".