Everybody is different. This seems intuitively obvious. But why then, do most training programs and advice start with the premise that “this worked for someone else, it should work for you”? Even when advice is specific to a group of beginners or elite athletes, there is still a broad assumption that everyone in that category is similar enough in skill that the advice will generally work. But, even within a category of experience, skills are typically quite different. Everyone comes with their own strengths and weaknesses.
- You have unique physiology, reasons for running, lifestyle and preferences.
- You have different genetic potential which may be limited by the size of your bones, limb length, muscle leverage, etc.
- You have unique prior experience, environment, and diet.
There is no chance that you are the same as anyone else much less a group of people. We will all respond to physical and mental challenges differently. Two people with similar builds, age and experience may respond completely differently to the same training run, strength training routine, or running shoes. One may be mentally tough, the other not so much. One may have an injury history that impacts their running, the other duck feet. And so on…
So, we are all very different. What works for one person may or may not work for another. We also change over time, get better at some things, worse at others, change our nutrition or environment, etc. What worked for us at one time may not anymore. How can we know if something is effective for us at a particular point in time?
Fortunately, our brains can tell us! We just need to know how to ask. You need to perform assessments to understand whether the changes you are making are benficial at that particular time. Assessments are critical in determining what your brain considers threatening or non-non-theatening to you. Threat is cumulative. It might be worth thinking of something that assesses well as reducing overall threat and something that assesses poorly as increasing threat. And the greater the threat, the more your brain is going to constrain your performance. Think of it as putting on the brakes. Conversely, reducing threat by performing beneficial activities, is like stepping on the gas.
For example, a pebble in your shoe is very unlikely to assess well. Your brain can predict that left unattended, the pebble will likely cause harm. You will likely perceive pain and a reduction in performance until you fix the problem, But that’s going to be pretty common for everyone. Now imagine two people wearing the same make of shoe. It may be perfect for one runner and awful for the other. And neither may be able to cognitively perceive the difference. However, their non-conscious brains will perceive the difference and the shoes will assess differently for each.
At NeuroRunner, we use these assessments for many reasons:
- To help you find the best warm up
- To improve your training responses
- To pick the right shoes, etc., etc.
You will find that you are not always conscious of threat, so assessments are critical. Over time you may find that you become more intuitive about the process and be able to feel a positive response to a change. But by assessing regularly, you will improve the specificity, efficiency and results of your training over training advice that worked for someone else.