Put Your Brain on Auto Pilot to Run Faster

Runners have a way of over-thinking things during a race. Have any of the following thoughts ever crossed your mind while racing?

  1. “Oh no! I don’t feel as good as I expected. Today is just not my day.”
  2. “Why is Jim/Sally/Megan ahead of me right now, I beat him/her by over a minute the last time we raced.”
  3. “It feels too hot out…I sure hope that I hydrated enough. If not, I”m in trouble.”
  4. “I need to lift my legs and arms more. I don’t think I’m running efficiently.

These kinds of thoughts are simply not helpful and can destroy any chance you had at running to your true potential. The conscious mind has an amazing ability to get in the way of the body’s subconscious ability to run fast.

Through the countless miles that we have run, our muscles, nervous system, and respiratory system know how to run fast. During a race, the best thing that our minds can do is to get out of the way of the natural functions of the body and let them do their job.

This idea is illustrated well in a recent Japanese study that took a look at the brain activity of the Brazilian soccer star, Neymar. According to the study Neymar’s brain activity essentially shuts off when he is playing.

From MRI images we discovered Neymar’s brain activity to be less than 10 percent of an amateur player

The researchers theorized that “reduced brain activity means less burden which allows (the player) to perform many complex movements at once.”

The same holds true for runners. Instead of wasting energy and sabotaging your natural abilities with negative thoughts and emotions, runners must quiet their minds to run well.

Do not overreact if you don’t feel 100% at the start of the race. Do not obsess about the current placing of other runners that you know. And, above all, silence the part of your critical part of your mind that all too often finds faults in your running.

Learn from great athletes like Neymar and understand that a quiet mind is often the best way to perform to your potential


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