Nathan Pennington Running in The Distance

Train Your Brain For Running Success

distance running tipsTrain Your Brain

How do you train your brain?

This is one area we do not talk about enough as runners.

This is such an important area of training and sad that it is so overlooked.

How many hours of your life have you put into training your body, the physical aspect of your preparation.

I think we all would be astounded to know the answer to that but I am sure it is a very high number, much more time spent training physically then mentally for sure.

We know how to training physically but to train your brain takes a different type of preparation that physical training simply can't assist us with.

I first heard about a product called Brain Bullet while I was deployed to Afghanistan.

It is a piece of software you can download onto your computer or laptop that flashes statements that you can create onto the screen.

The conscious mind barely has enough time to register it. You see it for a split second but the subconscious mind sees it clearly and your brain cells are activated by it.

I knew about subconscious training through my teenage years when I was competing in the martial arts.

The martial artist that trained me spoke about Chi, or as they called it, the ‘life force' or energy within the body.

I was again introduced to mental imagery when I was competing at Malone University under the coaching of 2012 London Olympics mens and women's head coach, Jack Hazen.

Coach Hazen would have us lie in a room after our workouts and visualize ourselves perfuming great at the NAIA National Track and Field and Cross Country National championships.

We pictured ourselves running strong, relaxed, in control and we did this several times during the week. He also has do it on our own time.

It was part of our routine.

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how to train for a marathonThe Train Your Brain Philosophy

The great Billy Mills, the last American man to win an Olympic 10,000m gold medal at the Olympics said something years ago that I have never forgotten.

The subconscious mind, cannot tell the difference, between reality or imagination. 


With man this is impossible, not with God, all things are possible with God – Mark 10.27

In The Neuroscience of Changing Toxic Thinking, Dr. Athena Stalk states,

As the body’s operating system, your subconscious came equipped with the knowledge and know-how to operate the billions of cells of your body. For obvious reasons, it does not depend on language to instruct it.

Please don't just take my word for it either.

Visit their website and see for yourself of some of the training that has gone on, major corporations who use this form of training.

Train Your Brain As Elite Athletes Do

Elite athletes use mental imagery as parts of their routine. I have noticed when Bobsledders heads, just prior to the start of their planned runs, are swaying back and forth.

They are going over what they want to do in their heads before they ever get in the sled. It doesn't matter what sport it is, training your subconscious mind, is every bit as important as physical training, if not more.

It is part of my training routine leading into the 2013 Boston Marathon and have been using Brain Bullet since September of this year.

We know how to train physically. It is what we have been brought up thinking. You go out, put in the workouts and mileage and hope that what you do will create a result.

Your hard work will be rewarded but have we lost touch on the mental side of the house?

How often do we spend training our brain as we train our bodies?

I certainly know that I never thought of how important mental training was when I was in high school. How much time did I spend visualizing?  I wish I knew about this earlier in my career.

I only wish I had this software when I was in high school, college and while competing for the Army WCAP.

What I am trying to stress to you is this.

Physical training is only part of the equation to running better times.

Have you ever watched videos of the Shaolin Monks or master level martial artists?

They have trained their minds to make their bodies impenetrable to sharp objects.

I remember watching a video of a highly trained martial artist who took a piece of white hot iron and licked it with his tongue and he was unharmed.

This is the power of mental training.

I have attached this video just to give you an idea of how powerful training your brain can be.

If I am going to recommend a product it will be something I strongly believe in, used and have heavily researched. I was a martial artist before I was a runner but realize how important mental training is for .

I studied Tae Kwon Do for three year from ages 13 to 15 so my interest in mental training started early and today, at 36, I tend to spend more of my time visualizing of what I want.

If you are at your laptop or computer for a couple hours a day positive statements will flash on the screen every second, every 3 seconds, 5 seconds.

You program that in and it is simple to set up.

I suppose the reason I feel so strongly about mental training is that it has been so influential in my life as a long distance runner.

I mention the story of when I went from being a 2.40.02 marathoner to setting a current personal best of 2.19.35.

My thoughts were constantly on breaking my goal, at that time, which was 2.22.00. This was an incredible jump in ability but I spent a great deal of my time rehearsing mentally what I wanted to achieve.

I would have to go from averaging 6.06 per mile pace for the 26.2 mile distance to 5.25 per mile pace. I only wish I had this software back then.

The key to having a good attitude is the willingness to change. We are either the masters or the victims of our attitudes. It is a matter of personal choice. Who we are today is the result of choices we made yesterday. Tomorrow we will become what we choose today. To change means to choose to change. – Dr. John C. Maxwell

It was not a shock when I broke 2.20.00. It is what Lisa Rainsberger and I had worked to do. It would not be a shock if I broke 2.15.00 next year at age 36.

It has to start in the mind before it is ever created in the physical world. Your goal may not be to hit an Olympic Trials standard time. It could be to run 20 miles a week consecutively.

Lose 10 pounds in 10 weeks or run a 20.00 5K time. You have to start thinking about it, visualizing what you want, on top of your physical training.

Bridget Reardon, in The Impact of Mental Preparation on Athletic Performance, displays my closing thoughts perfectly,

Coaches are not teaching or training their athletes to be mentally prepared for the stresses and anxieties that impact motivational level and overall performance. Too often, coaches fail to recognize that it is more important to focus on the psychological/mental aspect of the game, especially since physical abilities remain relatively stable and psychological factors are more likely to account for fluctuations in performance.

Start training your brain today for positives and don't let past performances stop you from future success. The past is exactly that, the past.

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