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An Interesting Finding

  • By Vishwanthar on Training

  • November 27, 2012

I have something here for you to ponder. I have picked this excerpt from the book Exuberant Animal written by Frank Forencich. I know that this a lengthy extract, but give it a read. It is illuminating.

”This modern interest in fatigue science was featured prominently in the march 20, 2004 edition of New Scientist. In an article titled “Running on Empty” author Rick Lovett posed the question “Can it be really possible that fatigue is all in the mind?”

For years, that standard theory has held that muscular fatigue is caused by the buildup of metabolic wastes like lactic acid, accompanied by the reduction in available fuel. This is the body-as-battery paradigm, otherwise known as the “limitations theory.”

But this prevailing theory has not lost favor, due in part to the “final lap paradox.” The Problem is that fuel depletion and waste accumulation were really the ultimate causes of fatigue, we’d expect to see runners start fast and then gradually slow down throughout a typical race we’d see them behave like cordless appliances, progressively losing power overtime. Instead, we see brisk, well-paced movements during the early going, followed by an impressive surge of speed and power on the final lap. This tells us that there must be something else going on here.

Consequently, exercise scientists are beginning to replace the “limitations theory.” With a more sophisticated idea called “central governance.” This new theory hold that fatigue is not caused by distress signals coming from exhausted muscles, but is rather an emotional response which begins in the brain. Contrary to perception, it’s not the muscles who are running the show. Instead, when the brain decides that it’s time to quit, it creates the distressing sensations that we interpret as muscle fatigue. The most surprising consequence of this line of thought is that fatigue may scarcely be a psychological phenomenon at all. Instead, fatigue may actually be a creation of the mind.”

We all think that fatigue is caused by the muscle. Well, it doesn’t seem so. We have seen long distance runners, who reach extreme exhaustion levels because of the nature of the sport. Yet we see many of them to give their absolute best when the finish line is nearing. We now have the approval of science to ratify this finding. We will have to agree that fatigue indeed is a creation of the mind.

Also, one of the reasons for interval training to be successful is because it teaches the mind that it’s safe to go faster. Whereas in sustained aerobic effort the mind doesn’t accede to the notion that it is safe to go faster.

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