Sunday, June 10, 2012

Fatigue, Relaxation Techniques and Visualization

I had some down time at work and whenever I have a moment of free time I like to check out one of my favorite professional blogs written by Mike Reinold, PT, ATC, CSCS. He is the rehabilitation Coordinator / Assistant Athletic Trainer for the  Boston Red Sox and I really enjoy his blog. He has great information of his own and posts informative articles and posts from other sports medicine bloggers. Thanks Mike!

Part of his May 31 post, which you can read HERE, linked to another blog called This post, written by Todd Hargrove reviews an article in the journal, Frontiers in Physiology, written by Tim Noakes, called: Fatigue is a Brain-Derived Emotion that Regulates the Exercise Behavior to Ensure the Protection of Whole Body Homeostasis. 

Todd writes "The basic idea is that human exercise capacity is not limited by a failure of the body, but is instead regulated by the brain to ensure that such a failure does not occur". He goes onto summarize the article.

(If you are in my age group stop reading here, this is way too boring for you to waste your time...)

What interested me as a runner is they are saying that "fatigue is not a physical event but rather an emotion that is used by the brain to regulate exercise stress."  We are far more physically capable than are brains ever let us be as a protective mechanism.

So the reason I didn't get my sub 1:50 half marathon back in March was because of my brain? It was trying to protect me? Stupid brain. I wanted that sub 1:50, thanks, thanks a lot.  
Noakes also posted these two video's check them out! They are good examples and just cool to watch.

I also like to read the comments posted by other readers. There was one comment posted by reader Dwight Pargee. He posted a story about Soviet and Eastern German sports training techniques. Apparently they were aware long ago about the brains effect over performance. The story comes from “The Super Mental training Book”. In the story this man named Garfield (not the cat, a former weight lifter), met with Soviet sports psychologists who said he could bench more than his current max of 280 pounds. He protested. His all time high was 365 pounds and he said it would take him 9-12 months of training to get to 300 pounds.Well those crazy Soviets had him complete a 45 minute relaxation and visualization process. And guess what? He did it. He was able to lift 365 right after his "session". He hadn't lifted that much weight in 8 years!  You should read the entire story posted in the comments, I'm not doing it justice.

This got me thinking.....

In high school and college I played soccer. I was a goalie. One summer I went to goal keeper camp. During one of the sessions they brought in sports psychologist who taught us how to visualize ourselves being successful at making tough saves. I used that technique for years, even into my college days. I truly believed that if I could see myself making an amazing save, that had my short, zero vertical jump butt would be able to do that in a game. And I did, on many occasions. Visualizing before games gave me confidence and helped shake the pre-game jitters.

So can I do this with running? I don't know, but I am going to give it a try at my next race. What do I have to lose? Not much but my age group.

Do you do any mental prepping for events?


  1. I love this post. I've studied sports psychology as a part of my graduate work and find it so interesting!

    I'm reading Running with a Mind of Meditation right now. Although I'm only 3 chapters in, I think it will provide a lot of insight. I'll let you know what I discover :)

  2. Thanks and keep me posted on that book! :)I am going to the workshop on Wednesday, any chance you will be going?