How your brain changes when you run

Writing a book very often requires research. The form that research takes however, can be diverse, very diverse indeed.

Let’s look at a book I’m currently writing, on nutrition for runners, within that envelope I’ve come across all manner of different pieces of utterly fascinating research, whether that’s the benefit of beetroot, to how the body uses different types of carbohydrate to increase the energy available to keep you moving. 

However, one area that has cropped up, and inspired me to delve far more deeply was that of the brain.

Fascinating doesn’t, in fact, come close.

Just a few facts about the brain then:

  • The brain changes the more you do something. Spend time running, playing tennis, driving? The brain changes as you build stronger and stronger connections. And on this point I had my own eureka moment earlier today. You see when I’m out there, running in the mountains, the more regularly I run on the rough and rocky terrain of Snowdonia, the more comfortable I get. I hadn’t realised until today, but it was this repetition that caused neural connections in my brain to be created, and with more and more time spent doing this, the more my brain became wired to carry out the task. The more used to it I became, the easier it became – if you’d like more information on running as a brand new runner, or perhaps you’d like to review some best practice and tips for improving your running, then take a look at my complete guide here
  • Your brain is flexible, and changes. Physically. The more you practice something, the more time you spend in the doing, all of this physically changes the brain.
  • Deciding how to respond in a challenging situation, where a number of possible responses are presented, can be tricky. How do our brains tackle this and choose so quickly? The brains of those who are more experienced in certain areas, such as sports, tend to generate less options than those who aren’t as experienced. Then quite often the brain chooses the first option

I really find this area of research truly incredible. Our brains are responsible for so much of our running success.  Learning how to help other runners benefit from using their brains, in better ways, to improve their running is something that I believe is yet another way of increasing our performance advantage. 

Some other related articles that you might well find interesting are this one on Thankfullness and here on Motivation

Run Strong, Geoff

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