I admit to being a proponent of Tim Noakes’ Central Governor model and this fall I am putting the theory to the test. As most of you know, Noakes’ theory suggests that a significant factor in running success is training the mind. Indeed, training the body is essential and good genes are helpful but Noakes notes that a well-trained mind can lead to performances that exceed expectations more often than training or genes can. And after all, exceeding expectations is something we all hope to do once in a while.
So, for me, this fall is a good time to test the theory. Clearly, I am experiencing the accumulated fatigue brought on by having run three 100-mile races since late June and as such every day is a new adventure for me as I continue to travel down uncharted territory. Furthermore, the shorter days of fall, the more intense work schedule I have at school, and the chilly temperatures are all sapping my motivation. And that is where the mind-training part comes into play. In May, I must admit, I have absolutely no problem getting out the door to run. Motivated by the eternal hope of spring and the burning desire to be adequately prepared for Western States makes my mind hum and I am ready and eager to run every day. Now, several months and many miles later, it’s a bit tougher to keep that edge.
For me, the training of the mind at this point in the year is training for the long haul. Every run is characterized by some mental challenge. Most of the time I present myself with a hypothetical mental challenge like coming up from No Hands Bridge on the edge of breaking 17 hours or looking up to Sam Merrill and seeing Tommy Nielsen’s flashlight beam and some of the time I set up a barrier that I should beat even though I am tired (get to the fire hydrant in 6 minutes, run this entire hill, hammer this downhill to get a little extra quad pounding). While these are little, seemingly meaningless goals in the grand scheme of my physical training, they are essential for my mental preparation.
Just over two weeks remain until my run at Javelina. It will be the culmination of the “Andy Slam” for 2007. Certainly, it’s nothing like the Grand Slam but it’s a first for me. And, I must admit, I want to win. I am not sure if I can but I’ll give it a try and hope for the best. My body may be beaten and worn down but my mind will be focused. With the right training it seems to me that the mind is much more resilient than the body and if I can take that knowledge into my race I may just get my third win of the year and gain some mental fitness in the process.