Fight Fatigue By Overriding Your Brain's Urge To Quit

Posted on June 6, 2014

Photo: flickr

What makes an endurance athlete quit? Not quit the sport, but quit during a competition. Every runner, swimmer, or cyclist starts a race with the desire to win or at least achieve a personal best time. They've done the pre-race math - keep at a certain pace for the entire distance to achieve the target time. Their wearable technology keeps them updated on heart rate, distance and split times to stay on that pace.

However, at the finish line, many athletes are not able to maintain their strides/strokes per minute, giving in to the perception that their energy tank is empty.

For a long time, it has been assumed that a physiological breakdown must have happened along the way - energy levels were depleted, muscles seized up. But what if the main limitation to better performance was in the athlete's head? There is a growing, and often heated, discussion on the role of the brain in controlling, regulating and even sabotaging an athlete from pushing through perceived physiological fatigue to break through a performance plateau.

"What we call exhaustion is not the inability to continue; it's basically giving up," he said in a recent interview with "The reality is that the neuromuscular system is actually able to continue. My idea is that it’s basically a safety mechanism like many other sensations. So you have sensations motivating you to take a certain course of action for survival. Think about thirst or hunger or pain. All these sensations are there to make us do something. That is actually beneficial for our survival, and I think perception of effort does the same."

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Category(s):Sports Psychology

Source material from Sports are 80 percent Mental