Mind Muscle Connection Beginnings
#StrongerTogether May 2021
As you will have worked out by now, your brain is now far more involved in movement than you are used to it being. This is simply because for most people, any kind of movement is not a conscious action. I talk about mind muscle connection at Core Club all the time and have explained it countless times. That said I’m not sure that the majority of people either get it or are invested in it. This isn’t a criticism; I just think we live in a world now where people expect everything yesterday and hard work and repetition isn’t a part of being human where being active is concerned.
The reality is however, to move from unconscious incompetence through the four phases of movement repatterning to unconscious competence requires conscious intervention. Also, when we have made the key changes we need to our movement form, the mind will still have a key role to play with regards to performance.
Talking from experience, people often ask me why I take on the challenges that I do. Well, I simply love the misery and the solitude of trying to break myself across unforgiving terrain or mind-bending challenges.
I love the process, love seeing what my mind will do and whether I have the body and brain space to deal with what’s in front of me. I have felt that as a human I have grown massively during the time that I have adopted this kind of approach to my running. I am also fortunate that I am very comfortable on my own in my own company. It is worth highlighting both of those things. There is being on your own and being in your own company. The two are very different for me and I would be happy to expand on that if you would like me to.
With regard to my races, whether they be 100 miles on the garden path in my back garden, 268 miles in 4 days across Suffolk, 100 miles with 20,000 feet of vertical gain at Wendover Woods, SVP100 unsupported in 10 hours 29 minutes or UTS in Wales to come in September to name but a few this past year, I have learned to think my way across them. I always have a plan, I always think everything through ahead of time and come the race I always live in the moment.
The other thing that I have learned to live with and love is the misery. I have learned to suffer. I am happy in the red zone as I call it. Most athletes that I work with shy away from it, there are a handful that I work with that have it turned on. Either is fine, I'm just using it to highlight me. Don't compare. The good news is that both is within us all. As an athlete you just need to decide if you want to go there and then if you want to live there.
If you get good at visualisation ahead of races, climbs, swims, games and really think about all of the elements to any activity you will have to think about the bits that are going to hurt and the bits that are going to be super tough. If you can do this ahead of the activity, when you get there you are far less likely to be thrown by anything that rears its head.
Create your own personal checklists for when you are running, playing, swimming, climbing and racing. I guarantee it will be time well spent.
The brain makes up 2% of your body mass but can use up to 25% of your energy. Somebody told me that a chess player can lose up to 3kg in a match sat down not moving.
I truly believe that if you can think about your movement and be more relaxed as a result, you will burn far less in the way of energy. Focussing on good form will keep the front of the brain busy whilst allowing the back of the brain to relax, thus vastly reducing the amount of energy needed to fire us as a human. So focus on your movement as you move, all of it, and live in the moment.