Mental Toughness Is When You Can Find Fuel In An Empty Tank.
A often overlooked when improving as an endurance runner. If you want to run further or faster or both, you have to train your body…But you have to build your mental resolve, be it a 5k, 10k, half marathon, or beyond…
Often, part of the challenge is finding that bit extra we don’t think we have.
The weird fact is often, when we think the tank is empty, it isn’t.
So why is it that our brain often tricks us into thinking that we have nothing else, but we do?
Well, first, you have to look at it from the point of view of the evolution of our species; when we first scrambled down from trees, we were very vulnerable; and food and resources were scarce.
Our brains and their size them was a defining factor in our growth and survival.
It enabled us to progress and find ways to do things more efficiently and protected us from undue risk and harm.
If you are reading this now, you are evidence of how successful that evolution has been.
However, our brains did not expect us to participate in endurance races for fun thousands of years ago!
Our brain’s number one incentive is to keep us safe.
With this in mind, Tim Noakes developed the idea of the central governor theory.
In a nutshell, it’s…
The brain will override your physical ability to run and “shut the body down” before you can do severe or permanent damage to yourself.
Of course, it gets a lot more profound than that; however, consider this at its most basic level; if this is true, then most endurance runners have more to give.
However, this is not just a case of willpower trying to beat our brain’s central governor system into submission.
While you can never overcome millions of years of evolution, you can train your brain to accept more discomfort before the central governor kicks in.
Using workouts like intervals that enable you to reach a point of stress and then having rests helps develop a tolerance to discomfort without overwhelm.
Learning to pace your running helps as runners that go off too fast in training or races often trigger their brain’s central governor.
By training pacing your runs, you train your brain to, in effect, trust you; yes, I know it sounds weird; however, when you think about it, it does make a lot of crazy sense!
Finally, you can train your brain by doing small challenges each day that help ensure your brain’s self-protection system does not kick in too early when you push yourself in training or when you get to those challenging parts of a race.
If you would like to know more about ways to overcome your brain’s central governor and find better reserves of mental toughness.
I have written a free E-book called the inner game of running.