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Science proves: Running helps to forge steel will

Science proves: Jogging helps to forge steel will - Photo 1.

Jogging is a way to exercise the mind – Photo: BEHANCE.NET

“A cute rabbit at the end of the road”

Scientist Ashley Samson, California State University (USA), is working on a project to solve the mysteries in the mind of runners.

Usually psychological surveys are usually done through questionnaires. According to Samson, this approach is not really accurate because athletes are unlikely to fully record their thoughts according to each happening on the track.

Samson and colleagues decided to try something different. They equip a group of volunteers, including professional and amateur runners, with small microphones attached to their shirts every time they compete.

Volunteers were asked to feel free to speak their mind on the track. In total, Samson obtained a recording of more than 18 hours, including the monologues of each person. Those are also instant thoughts, true to what happens when they race.

The research team found it very interesting to always hear the athletes’ self-encouraging statements. Nearly every person in each race repeated the same sentence over and over.

“Breathe Jenny, relax Jenny. Relax your neck and shoulders,” volunteer Jenny said to herself as she felt tired on the run.

Meanwhile, volunteer Fred encouraged him to finish the distance by saying: “Is that a rabbit at the end of the road? Oh, that’s cute.”

Samson found the thoughts from the group of volunteers related to three main themes: exclamations about speed and distance on the track; sensations of pain and discomfort during racing; feel about the race track space.

However, most of them adopt a variety of “strategies” to boost their morale while running. It’s not just self-indulgent words, it’s also breathing techniques and regulating thoughts in a positive direction.

For example, many volunteers when tired in long distances such as 10,000m, marathon often feel their body starts to feel uncomfortable, legs tired, hips hurt…

“Let’s keep going”, “Don’t pay attention to these little things”, “There is no way to run without challenging yourself”… are many motivational sayings that runners give to themselves.

Mental control to increase achievement

Science proves: Jogging helps to forge steel will - Photo 2.

Many athletes actively learn how to control their mind on the track – Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Dr. Vana Hutter (Virije Universiteit Amsterdam, Netherlands) is an expert in the mental health of top athletes. She has done a lot of research on the ability to focus and handle pressure of competitors.

Hutter believes that many people who want to increase their performance on the track have actively learned how to optimize their psychology. They learn to control their emotions, thoughts and actions according to developments on the track. “Sports performance is determined by a combination of body and mind,” says Hutter.

According to Hutter, steel will in competition can be trained through self-regulation. Athletes can take advantage of the opportunities and situations that are available when training on the track, such as trying to overcome steep hills instead of choosing to go flat, or putting on running shoes after a tiring day at work.

Over time, they will practice perseverance, set clear goals and know how to prevent the influence of the surrounding environment from fulfilling expectations.

Hutter believes that many athletes are born “masters” at psychological self-regulation. However, this method can be formed right on the running track. “Increasing speed, overcoming running fatigue is a form of mental exercise,” says Hutter.

Giving up on the track is due to the brain?

Giving up on the track from a sports science perspective is an interesting topic. There is still a lot of debate among physiologists and psychologists: What is the threshold for a person to start slowing down and stop halfway?

One theory supported by many scientists is that at the time of the decision to stop, each athlete usually still has enough energy to continue. Giving up has more to do with the brain than the muscles.

They believe that it is the mentality of an athlete that determines the physical activities. They also believe that the brain convinces an athlete to stop before the body is completely exhausted.

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