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How to improve your running times, without doing more physical exertion

We leave you some tips so that the brain won't beat you.

Cómo mejorar tus tiempos

For years, running researchers focused their efforts on the roles of the heart, legs and lungs to explain the limitations of human endurance.  Today, the brain is the main focus of the science of running and we explain why. 

Several studies have found that it is not lactate levels in the blood or lack of oxygen in the muscles that forces to reduce gait, but the way in which the brain interprets those signals. The effort to run is proportional to how the brain perceives it.

However, knowing that the brain is the one that steps on the brake is not enough to improve the times. Researchers from different parts of the world tried different methods to harness brain energy, and one of these methods is based on  training the cognitive part, making it more resistant. 

One of the studies showed that cyclists tend to slow down from the start, when the weather has a high temperature. This is an unconscious reaction, already the body has not yet had the possibility of warming up. That is why they conducted an experiment with a modified thermometer, so that cyclists falsely read a lower temperature. In this way, cyclists achieved considerably better time.

Another test was to mark the runners a false feedback of distance or time, to which people reacted with greater speed.
Samuel Marcora of Sturt University in Australia had already established that resistance activities depended on brain perception of effort. That is why  mental fatigue can negatively affect physical performance . This discovery was based on a study conducted with two groups of people. Before each group went out for a run, one of them had to watch a film for 90 minutes, while the other had to perform activities that involved greater mental effort, such as completing tests.

The results showed that, for people who had responded to the tests, the exercise was harder and more exhausted. Based on this and other studies, Marcora comes to a strong conclusion:  “The negative effect of mental work on physical performance, is as great as the effect of muscle fatigue.” 

This discovery led to a radical idea: if you can train the brain to be more accustomed to mental fatigue, then the mind will adapt, and the task of keeping pace will be less arduous. Samuel Marcora provides advice that, although they seem a little strange, have a favorable impact on improving endurance.

Run, even if not in optimal conditions. It does not matter whether it was a very exhausting or insomnia day, running in this state, at least once a week, helps to practice the race through the “mental haze”.
Self-motivation. Marcora and her student Anthony Blanchfield discovered that  motivational phrases with oneself  , using claims like  “don't give up,” allows people to reduce perceived effort, incredibly increasing endurance by 18%  .

Getting bored before you run. One way to “get bored” before running is to sit in front of the screen for about 30 minutes with some monotonous online game.  It is scientifically proven that, if the brain is trained to accustom it to mental fatigue, the performance will be much better. 

Source: Montagne Blog

Publication Date: 09/05/2019

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