Wednesday, September 18, 2013

How To Build Mental Muscle

I've been pondering a lot of things recently. Why is the sky blue? Nitrogen. How big is the universe? Very big. What am I going to make for lunch later? PB&J. Is Miley a good role model? Maybe.

The second biggest question of all, though, was "When am I gonna write a new blog post?" It wasn't until one of my many many fans commented on my beer mile post telling me to get my butt in action that I decided to get 'er going again. Anything for my friends.

The biggest question of all has been swirling around in my mind for months and I still have no idea how to comprehend the answer to it. It could possibly be one of the most important findings in the history of running or, on the other hand, could just be a bunch of balogna sandwiches covered in mustard.

Is running all mental?

I have a poster in my room back in Ottawa that says: "Running Is 90 Percent Mental... And 10 Percent Crazy". Most people focus on the second half of the quote because it portrays a sense of humour, but I see that poster and look at the first half of the sentence because something there stands out. Running is 90 percent mental.

I read an article yesterday by a journalist named Alex Hutchinson. He dives right into this topic, explaining how researchers believe that the brain has as much an impact on performance as the heart, legs, lungs, or any other part of the body. Upon meeting physiologist Tim Noakes, author of The Lore of Running and big believer of this idea, Hutchinson decided that he wanted to be involved with some of the brain experiments that Noakes and many other researchers have been testing...

Here's a paragraph from the article that may entice a lot of you runners.

"Consider this: If I put a brick on my car's gas pedal and point it down some empty desert highway, the car will keep going until it runs out of gas, blows a tire, or boils its radiator dry. For most of the 20th century, physiologists figured that marathoners operate on similar principles: You go until your muscles run out of glycogen or your legs fail or you get too dehydrated to continue—and then you sputter to a halt. But in the real world, very few marathoners actually reach that breakdown point. Sure, you're tired when you reach the finish line, but you can still hobble to the bagel table. That's because there's a driver in the car, monitoring the warning lights, adjusting pace, and controlling all the components. Noakes's argument was that marathoners have brains, and use them constantly to make sure the body never comes to a dead stop."

Here's the whole article if you're interested. Quite the read!

Happy hump day.