How does mental fatigue affect our running and what can we do about it?

This article was originally posted by Ryan at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.

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Mental fatigue matters

I’m sure many of us have been there and know intuitively that mental fatigue can affect our running. I know I’ve experienced those rough runs where I just feel physically drained after a day of work that required a lot of concentration or a long study session when I was in school.

Well, now we see a study that backs this up. The interesting thing about this study is that it appears we perceive more physical fatigue, even though when bypassing the brain the body is able to perform just as well.

It’s interesting to see the idea of training the brain to handle mental fatigue. Why? Because, about 2 weeks ago, I was reading about a protocol to do just that. Basically, you perform a task that fatigues your brain, then you go out for a run.

I can’t help but wonder if this is one of the next new frontiers in training for endurance athletes. It is a very interesting idea. Fortunately, if you want to get ahead of the curve, I think there are ways we can do that without waiting for this new protocol to come out. Do you have some mentally challenging tasks you have to get done this weekend? Try doing some of them before your long run. Tough day at work? Maybe a run after work would be good not just to decompress but also to work on your ability to run through mental fatigue. I know I like my runs during my lunch break at work just to break up the work day. Maybe, in addition, I’m giving myself some extra training that I had only thought about in passing before.

Just a thought. What do you think?

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