Brain training

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 😉




Weekly Workout

For this week’s workout, I decided to keep it fairly short and moderately paced in order to avoid over-stressing my foot.  Yasso 800’s were featured in the August issue of RunnersWorld so I decided to try them out, but only do 4 repeats instead of 10 repeats (the maximum number of reps). 

The idea behind the Yasso 800’s is that if you figure out what you marathon goal time is (or an equivalent marathon time using a pace calculator such as the McMillan running calculator), you then take that time, in hours:minutes, and run each 800 in that time as minutes:seconds.  So for me, with a recent 10k time of about 43 minutes, giving an equivalent marathon of 3:24, I should run each 800 in 3:24 (three minutes and 24 seconds).  The recovery between each 800 is just a jog for the same amount of time as it took to run the last repeat (3:24 recovery by time).  Got to love the fact that it’s a 1-number workout at least! 

 It turns out that I have some sort of block about 3:24 pace – I kept trying to relax and hit the correct splits, but kept ending up running about 10 seconds too fast.  An ok problem to have today, but it wouldn’t have been very fun if I were doing the whole 10-rep version.  I’ve had this problem before with hitting 10k pace (about 6:00 – 6:10 when I’m in shape) – it just feels awkward.  Too slow to really push but too fast to really relax and tempo it.  How do you improve your ability to hit tricky paces?

Post-workout I tried out the Cannonball routine from Coach Jay.  It’s a nice set of drills for building dynamic flexibility and it worked well as part of the cool-down.  It’s quick, fun, and requires no equipment 🙂

Oh, and I tried one of these out before the workout:

ImageMainly wanted to test it out to see if GU is an option for a pre-race snack prior to the 15k I’m running this weekend.  The flavor was pretty good – fruit flavors seem pretty safe so far (I’ve had Orange Creamsicle and TriBerry).  Anyone have any energy flavors that they think are especially awesome?  The gel seemed to settle in my stomach without any issues – hopefully it’ll work out well on Saturday!