According to my latest copy of RunnersWorld, my 10-hour grading marathons should be excellent training for an actual marathon. So, how do these long hours of sitting on my butt eating whatever unhealthy snacks I can get my hands on contribute to race-day readiness? It’s all mental.
The question discussed in the RW article is whether a mental training regimen that induces mental fatigue can be used to improve the brain’s ability to power through mid-race concentration slumps. Specifically, the mental fatigue training is designed increase the brain’s tolerance to adenosine – a neurotransmitter that is linked to mental fatigue. During exercise, adenosine may function as a feedback signal to cells to reduce activity under conditions of high metabolic demands (J.H. Benington, H.C. Heller. Restoration of brain energy metabolism as the function of sleep. Progress in Neurobiology, 45 (1995), pp. 347–360). The RW article presents the article author Alex Hutchinson’s experience as a research participant in Dr. Marcora’s study, and his thoughts on his subsequent workout and race performances.
So, pretty cool science being done, but to be honest my first thought was “Hours of tedious, mentally draining tasks? Sounds like grad school…maybe I’ll actually pr this Spring!” Now back to training…er, grading 😉