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Mind Over Body
To give you another example of the power of the mind, there were some fascinating findings from a recent study from the University of Cape Town. Researchers examined the muscle biopsies of exhausted marathon runners and found that their muscles had plenty of glycogen and ATP (fuel for muscular contraction). Their conclusion? Fatigue sets in not when muscles run out of energy, but first when the brain tells them to conserve energy. Translation? Your brain tells you to shut down before your body does.
For the average exerciser, this means that your mind can carry you a lot farther than you think! Positive self talk can literally help you think yourself fit.
Develop a Mantra
Author and athlete Chris Bergland insists that projecting a positive attitude can reprogram your brain to enter a euphoric state while exercising, allowing you to go longer and harder. Researchers at Wake Forrest University agree, stating that feelings of pain and fatigue are a result of both immediate and expected events. The best way to fight fatigue is with positive self-affirmations such as, “I am strong. I can do this," and "I am becoming more fit and healthy.” You can develop your own mantra, which you repeat to yourself throughout your workouts. Ironman champion Mark Allen's mantra for competition was "Strong and smooth." Over and over, he would repeat his mantra while he swam, biked and ran. And in moments of great fatigue, his brain took over to push his body to greater heights.
You can develop a mantra too—something positive that you tell yourself during your workouts, to help yourself stay focused and keep your body working hard. Any word (like strong, fast, finish) or set of words will work, as long as it inspires you and is positive in nature.