A loose summary is that the brain physiologically is wired to keep us from killing ourselves, literally. When it perceives we are doing damage to ourselves through feedback it receives during exertion, it “makes” us ease off. But the science today tells us that “the feeling that you can go no further is just that – a feeling.”
In a 2014 experiment researchers “showed cyclists images of smiling faces in imperceptible 16-millisecond flashes. The exposure boosted cycling performance by 12% over the level recorded with frowning faces projected in the same way. The sight of the smile didn’t lower the subjects’ heartrates or lactate levels. Instead it subtly altered how their brains interpreted those signals, evoking feelings of ease that bled into their perception of how hard they were pedaling.”
That is very powerful science and armed with this knowledge we believe that our athletes can do more work at higher levels of discomfort thus achieving better physiological adaptation…and correspondingly find higher levels of confidence that ultimately fuel performance.
The simplest and perhaps most effective tool is the ability to train yourself using motivational self-talk. There are many who will poo-hoo this calling it hokey. However, there is an ever growing body of scientific research that shows it is very real. It is pretty simple; you replace negative self-talk “man I am cooked” with “keep pushing, you’re doing well.”
For more details see “Endure: Mind, Body and the Curiously Elastic Limits of HumanPerformance” by Alex Hutchison
Thanks Craig for the eye opener!