Think of your Non-conscious Brain as a Governor that constrains your performance
And imagine how you'd perform if you removed those constraints.
Two important NeuroRunner concepts are
- Anything Can Cause Anything
- Anything Can Change Anything
Changing your sensory and cognitive inputs can change your performance outputs (e.g., running efficiency, form, endurance) in unexpected and non-obvious ways. Your brain evaluates changes and adjusts outputs accordingly. This is called the Central Governor Model and provides a large body of training options that will improve your running.
Let’s look at the concept in more detail.
It controls performance outputs.
- Movement, including strength, speed, flexibility, endurance
- Feelings, including pain, fatigue and emotion
- Autonomic functions, like heart rate, breathing, organ function, hormone levels, etc.
- Sensory skills, like vision, balance, touch, smell, etc.
It constantly receives inputs (11-20 million signals/sec)
- Sensory information
- Interoception – what’s going on inside your body
- Exteroception – what’s going on outside your body
- Proprioception – where your body is in space and time
- Conscious thought
It continuously evaluates all inputs against your prior history and physical attributes and changes outputs accordingly.
- It is predictive and treats prior bad experiences as negative. It will try to head off a bad outcome before it occurs.
- It also treats uncertain outcomes (no priors) as potentially negative
- It is conservative in trying to protect you.
- Its primary goal is your survival
- It tries to maintain homeostasis throughout the range of your activities and environment to avoid
- Cellular damage or death due to lack of fuel
- Temperature too high or low
- Blood pH out of range
- You can consciously override the Central Governor (at some risk).
- This is particularly true for feelings of pain, fatigue and emotion.
Some Central Governor examples
- Listening to music could affect the cadence and effort of your run
- A poorly tied shoe could affect your hip function
- Running on a street where you were once chased by a dog, could alter your running performance substantially
- Your brain will pick a pace (if you let it) that is appropriate to the distance to be covered, the temperature, your prior running history, etc.
What you need to know
- If homeostasis is at risk or breathing muscles are fatigued, don’t be surprised when reduced muscle firing, pain and fatigue are the result.
- It may be easier to get you to stop running to fix the problem than other brain-controlled options
- Controlled breathing, appropriate pacing and hydration can all help maintain homeostasis
- You want your sensory information to be as accurate and skilled as possible.
- Your conscious thoughts will affect your performance.
- Your physical attributes will affect the level at which you perform. You can train to run a fatigue-free race or train less and have to “tough it out”.
- You should build a library of prior experiences and skills that will let your brain naturally pick the best tactics for any running situation.
- Recognize that prior negative experiences will increase constraints. They need to be specifically overcome.
- You can become a more intuitive runner.