To run and race your best it’s critical you’ve got the right mindset. Dr. Jim Afremow has made it his mission to help runners and athletes of all sports hone their mental training. Just as important and the physical workouts, an athlete’s mind can create a champion or turn into one’s own worst enemy. I wanted interview Dr. Afremow both because I respect his body of work and level of expertise and also because, let’s be honest, the psychology of our sport in straight-up fascinating! Often time elite athletes have trouble putting into words exactly how they get into gamer mode…so read on to hear a mental game’s coach put words to the ability:
Everyone wants to run faster, right? Part of getting faster is of course doing the shorter repeats; one must build that explosive power of course. BUT, there’s another part to getting faster and it’s training your BRAIN and nervous system to respond at a quicker rate.
A runner can’t utilize that explosive power to run faster without the nerve and synapse networks first being created to ‘tell’ your foot to move faster off the ground. Isn’t science and the brain cool?
For runners, finding that perfect taper and method to peak right sure can be difficult! Which sounds kinda crazy because taking the taper at face value, one could think, “Well, I just need to cut back. I’ve done all the work, so let’s just coast on until race day and wind up with fresh as daisy legs!”
Good things can come in threes, but then again plenty of awesome things come in twos and fours. Runners have two legs, four laps make that perfect mile…though do those four laps REALLY feel all that perfect when doing mile repeats?? Brain: “FOUR laps, let’s call a mile one lap!” Juuust kidding.
A headline caught my eye recently: “Be a better runner without running.” *About face* Now I respect the news outlet that ran the article but the snark in me can’t resist thinking, “This kind of thing belongs in Runner’s World next to the column ‘How to get faster in your sleep!’”
Now my younger brother’s first love is rugby, second is football, but for the three weeks between seasons he decided to do track! Wahoo…I was stoked!! I’m also in awe of the fact that he doesn’t do any speed-work and then just blitzes those 400′s and 200′s like they’re nothing.
The mystery is solved as to where all of the fast twitch muscle fiber genes in the family went. Clearly all were saved and concentrated into the youngest Chock sibling. Oh and I guess he stole my coordination genes too.
Hydration is not something runners can afford to skimp on. Fun fact: by the time you actually FEEL thirsty you’re in a state of dehydration. The key is sipping those fluids consistently, throughout the day, and ensuring you’re urine is rocking the clear-light yellow hue rather than radioactive yellow-orange.
A friend of mine was asking his runner friends what their favorite training tracker or log was. Apps, watches, etc. were all thrown out there. Personally I don’t use any of the online training upload apps or sites, not that I have anything against them, I just have a love/hate relationship and here’s why.
Sometimes a runner just needs to rock it old school style and get back to basics. Look beyond the Garmins, the heart-rate monitors, the target zones, the iPod/iPhone widgets, connect this, upload that, FitBit, BodyBug, BodPodWod, run-a-shoe-whiz…you get the picture.
The tech world is awesome, it’s always providing us runners new ways to trick our run. But even the most pimped out of sports watches won’t do a thing if the legs aren’t there. Same goes for running shoes that seem straight out of NASA.
All the new running gadgets are training tools. Tools, nothing more. A tool is there to provide feedback, help guide you along. Certainly tools can be powerful ways to improve your training but a tool is not a God. Your Garmin is not, wait for it, a God.
The true test of a workout is how you manage when it starts to hurt.
Ultimately the real benefits come when you start pushing through the pain and running outside of your comfort zone. This holds true both physically and mentally.
Physically the point of hard workouts are to demand more from your muscles. Make them give you more than they’d like to. You tear them down. Recovery allows you to build them back up stronger…but it starts with tearing them down.