In 2017, I ran my first and so far only, marathon. My quads completely cramped at mile 20 and I had to walk for two miles before regaining strength and running the final 4 miles. I hit a physical limitation.
Last year, 2018, I ran with someone older that me who left me in the dust. I could barely keep up. Since that run, my average run time is 40 seconds less per mile. For about 10 years, I ran at roughly 7min 45sec per mile across my runs. This year, I’m at 7min 04sec. I dropped over 40 seconds after one run. I had somehow broken through a mental limitation.
This is a book about how the “Brain and body are fundamentally intertwined.” It’s a book about the mental and physical limitations that hinder endurance. It’s something I think about all the time, and this was the perfect book to address my questions.
I’ve always said that running is 90% mental and 10% physical. Every morning that I go out and do a run, I’m battling my mind, not my legs. My mind is telling me to take it easy. To walk a bit. To not push so hard. My legs are willing and able but my mind is weak.
You may be the opposite. You may have a great mind but get bogged down with pain, thirst, or lack of oxygen. In either case, this book is a helpful resource to see what a variety of researchers think about the brain’s impact on endurance, the body’s impact, and how the two interact with each other.
I came away begin further convinced there is not a single elixir that will improve my running. It’s a constant process of experimentation to see what works and what doesn’t. It’s a lifelong pursuit of daily practice and habits. The good news is that I can train my brain. I can set new paradigms and believe new possibilities by pushing myself in a race scenario. But the true work, the training of the brain, the grind, happens on a daily basis. It’s each seemingly insignificant hourly choice. Eat this or that. Rest or stay up late. Sit or stretch. Run or take it easy.
If you want to explore ways to build endurance, this is the book for you. If you’re a beginner at running, swimming, or other endurance events, there are better books to get you motivated. This one gets into the weeds. It dives into the research. If that’s your thing, you will eat this one up.
I received this awesome comment from a listener of the Books of Titans website about one way to overcome mental limitations:
Anyway, the point of this email is about something on the Endure podcast today. Here is a story regarding what makes you run faster, smiling, etc…During a 10K race when some people were wearing costumes, I was out of shape and hurting. Then I see this guy in full Braveheart attire, clothes, paint, even a sword (plastic). It was an out and back race and he was way ahead of me. As we met, I conjured up what little breath I had and gave a guttural “FREEDOM!!!” He raises his sword toward me and gave a rallying cry back. And then I started passing people with an energy I never knew was inside. It was awesome.