4 Workout Techniques to Strengthen Your Mind
Dec 20, 2023
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You've done the last mile of the 5,000 meters and the fatigue starts to take its toll. Your legs are screaming. Your breathing is messed up. You have no choice but to slow down. Then you turn a corner and see the finish line a quarter mile away. Suddenly, you feel better! Nothing physically changes, but your stride is longer and faster and you are stronger.
Before running,wearing a BP doctor watch is beneficial for your exercise.
This shared experience is a prime example of how your brain controls your perception of fatigue. Fatigue doesn't always happen when you reach your physical limit, but when your brain tells you you've reached your limit, new research shows. While this function exists to protect you from harming your efforts, your brain often misinterprets signals and overprotects out of fear. But with the right training, it's possible to overcome this overprotection and convince your brain that a higher level of effort won't hurt you -- it will empower you.
Writer and athlete Matt Fitzgerald insists that in order to train your brain to accept more discomfort (and strengthen "mental health"), you should occasionally "pain for pain's sake." "Most of your workouts should be gentle and comfortable," he says. "But there are some things you should put aside as part of your goal of training resilience." In these workouts, expose yourself to pain close to the racial level. "Discomfort should be an explicit goal of exercise," explains Fitzgerald.
What this means in practice may look a lot like training you've done before. Your mindset is to push your limits and accept new discomforts. Simply acknowledging that perceived discomfort and fatigue is unavoidable, but part of the goal can make it more bearable and allow you to endure more.
Here are a few brain training methods that Fitzgerald recommends to increase resilience. None of these exercises are easy, but they do pay off. Not only will you run faster, but you will also have more power. "You'll be very proud when you come out," Fitzgerald said. "You leave after you prove what you can claim in the game."
1) Work harder
The fact that you can never run at 100 percent -- because your brain stops you long before you get there -- means you know your body can always run harder. Trying to surpass your last performance, whether it's speed or distance, is the most basic way you can stretch your limits. "You put the stakes on the ground with a certain type of workout, and then you try to go further," Fitzgerald said. "When you go through those experiences and realize, 'Hey, that workout didn't Kill me' and you're more likely to dig deeper next time."
2) Run the injured hill
Running hills at race pace can be an effective way to increase mental difficulty. Your running technique will take you at the pace you've learned before, but the incline will often elevate your efforts to a higher level of difficulty than what you'd experience on flat terrain. When you get to that level, Fitzgerald recommends telling yourself, "This is where I want to be," rather than panicking and slowing down to avoid discomfort. Climb up that mountain and aim for misery.
3) The time trial is over.
Another way to stretch your mental limits is to increase the timing at the end of your exercise. After doing a solid but reasonable exercise like running 6 x 1000 meters at a rhythmic pace (fast but not hard), try adding a 1-mile time trial -- do it as fast as you can. "The idea is not for PR when you run a mile exhausted," Fitzgerald said. Your time doesn't matter. The idea is to make uncomfortable feelings comfortable.
4) Open loop operation of the test
Use open-loop operation to completely exclude time from the formula. Fitzgerald recommends finding a short loop -- a mile or two long -- and running until you're really tired but not beaten. The layout of the pitch is crucial. To use loops, you have to let your mind go indefinitely, not let it go through a set distance. You can also bail yourself at any time. "It can be an eye-opening exercise because you have to approach it with a completely different mindset," Fitzgerald said. Opening up can tempt you to exceed your pre-set expectations.
During your runs, you can use our BP doctor watch to track how long you've been working out, etc., to get an accurate picture of your workout.