Scientists find the formula to be a better runner

The more runners listen to their bodies, the more exhausting the race can be, both physically and psychologically.

Photo: Quinn Rooney / Getty Images

A New Study Suggests To Make Running Look Easier, Pay Attention To Anything Other Than Your Body.

Research, conducted among beginning runners, indicates that the mental focus of the runner affects the quality of the ride.

The more closely runners listen to their bodies, the more exhausting the race can be, both physically and psychologically.

On the contrary, the more the runner is distracted from what their bodies are doing during the course, their running will be easier and their performance will be better.

This research contradicts popular advice among coaches such as paying attention to what is happening inside the runner, concentrating on form and technique, listening to their breathing or counting their steps per minute.

These results align with a widely accepted theory in exercise science known as the Restricted Action Hypothesis, which suggests that our bodies know how to move better than our conscious minds. The more we concentrate or consciously tell our body what to do, this theory suggests, the less fluid and efficient our movement becomes.

The new study, which was published in the Journal of Motor Learning and Development, researchers from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran, Iran, decided to see if runners would perform more effectively if they were distracted, compared to if they were tuned in to what was happening inside their bodies.

They started by recruiting about a dozen young, healthy, active women familiar with the race, although none ran regularly.

The participants ran for six minutes at a time, at about 70 percent of their maximum speed, while the scientists monitored their oxygen consumption, the amount of lactate in their bloodstream, and their feelings about the difficulty of each run.

In one session they focused on the muscles of their feet, in another they counted their steps and in a third round they counted in threes and finally in a fourth test they watched a basketball game.

When the scientists then compared the women’s physical and emotional reactions to each run, they found that the results obtained from watching videos far outperformed practices that focused on their bodies.

They also told the researchers that when they watched the videos, they felt less tense.

His running felt more difficult, on the other hand, when they paid attention to his muscles.

In essence, the worst strategy for runners was to “think about your movements,” said Jared Porter, professor of human movement at the University of Tennessee., who supervised the new study. A much better option was to think of something, something else.

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