Brain Training For Runners: A Revolutionary New Training System to Improve Endurance, Speed, Health, and Results

( 38 )

Overview

Based on new research in exercise physiology, author and running expert Matt Fitzgerald introduces a first-of-its-kind training strategy that he's named "Brain Training." Runners of all ages, backgrounds, and skill levels can learn to maximize their performance by supplying the brain with the right feedback. Based on Fitzgerald's eight-point...

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Brain Training For Runners: A Revolutionary New Training System to Improve Endurance, Speed, Health, and Results

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Overview

Based on new research in exercise physiology, author and running expert Matt Fitzgerald introduces a first-of-its-kind training strategy that he's named "Brain Training." Runners of all ages, backgrounds, and skill levels can learn to maximize their performance by supplying the brain with the right feedback. Based on Fitzgerald's eight-point brain training system, this book will help runners:

- Resist running fatigue
- Use cross-training as brain training
- Master the art of pacing
- Learn to run "in the zone"
- Outsmart injuries
- Fuel the brain for maximum performance
- And more

Packed with cutting-edge research, real-world examples, and the wisdom of the world's top distance runners, Brain Training for Runners offers easily applied advice and delivers practical results for a better overall running experience.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780451222329
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/4/2007
  • Pages: 576
  • Sales rank: 279,600
  • Product dimensions: 6.04 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.27 (d)

Meet the Author

Matt Fitzgerald coaches online through TrainingPeaks.com and serves as a communications consultant to sports nutrition companies. A former editor at several top fitness magazines, he is the author of numerous articles and books. He lives in Northern California.
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Interviews & Essays

An Interview with Matt Fitzgerald

Barnes & Noble: What is the difference between brain training and mental training?

Matt Fitzgerald: Mental training is a set of techniques including mental rehearsal (also called imaging) and goal setting that help athletes develop important psychological skills such as focus and self-confidence. These techniques and skills apply to all sports and have traditionally been treated separately from the physical component of training for each particular sport. Brain training, on the other hand, encompasses both the mental and physical components of training, and in fact tears down the partition between them. It treats running as both a bodily activity and an experience that the brain regulates.

B&N: Can you give an example of how brain training is different from the way runners typically train?

MF: A major component of brain training is proprioceptive cues, which are images and other sensory cues that enable runners to modify their stride for the better as they think about them while running. I developed a set of 12 proprioceptive cues that improve running technique in different ways. I encourage runners to use one of these cues throughout each run, while also pursuing the main fitness goal of the workout, whether it's building endurance, speed, or something else. In this way, every run in the brain training system serves two purposes instead of the one purpose served by conventional runs.

B&N: What inspired you to write Brain Training for Runners?

MF: I pay close attention to sports science research that is relevant to running. Over the past decade I noticed a quiet revolution that has produced a radical new understanding of the role of the brain in running performance. A growing number of sports scientists now see the brain as the most important organ for running performance, controlling everything from stride technique to pain tolerance to muscle fatigue. In analyzing this new brain-centered model of running performance, I decided it was necessary to create a new, updated training system that accounted for the latest knowledge.

B&N: Perhaps you can provide an example of a commonly held belief about running performance that your book will challenge?

MF: Most runners believe that fatigue is caused by fuel depletion in the muscles. However, numerous studies have shown that there is still fuel available to the muscles when fatigue occurs. Other studies have shown that the actual cause of running fatigue is a reduction in muscle activation by the brain that is influenced only in part by declining muscle energy stores. This phenomenon is believed to serve as a protective mechanism preventing us from running to the point where we seriously harm ourselves.

B&N: How does your brain training system help runners prevent this type of fatigue?

MF: The key to pushing back the brain's self-protective limits on running performance is to familiarize your brain and the rest of your body with the specific challenges of running at your goal pace in races. So the 12 training plans included in Brain Training for Runners are all carefully designed to make workouts more and more race-specific as the weeks go by.

B&N: Overuse injuries such as runner's knee are a major concern for most runners. Is there a special brain training approach to injury prevention?

MF: There is. It's based on my own experience with injuries and on cutting-edge research about the relationship between brain-body communications and the most common causes of running injuries. The brain training strategy for injury prevention has three components. The first is reprogramming your stride so that you run more naturally -- the way you would run barefoot -- which reduces stress on the tissues of the legs. The second component is using strength training to improve your brain's ability to activate important stabilizing muscles that take stress of your joints during running. And the third component is adopting a zero-tolerance policy toward abnormal pain -- your brain's warning message -- while running. Using this three-part strategy I was able to overcome a five-year battle with injuries and am now running healthier than ever.

B&N: Is Brain Training for Runners intended for a specific type of runner?

MF: Every runner can benefit from this book. Most of the runners I've communicated with about it are mid-pack runners who are interested in improving their best race times. But recently I heard from 2000 Olympic Triathlon Gold Medalist Simon Whitfield, who's interested in using brain training to get an edge over his competition in the upcoming triathlon season. So there's something for everyone in Brain Training for Runners.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 38 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(20)

4 Star

(9)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(7)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 38 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2008

    Common Sense - all in one place

    This book makes a lot of sense. There is nothng radical in it - if you read a lot of running books, especially Tim Noakes, you will see some of these ideas elsewhere, but they have been pulled together into one practical guide and good set of training schedules. I have followed the Marathon schedules and got my PB down from a really hard 3:20 to a comfortable 3:08 and Half marathon from 1:30 on a flat course to a 1:24 PB on a hilly course. I intend to continue using these schedules, and I recommend you do too. The only reason I havent given five stars is that the programmes are all in text only, no website to download an editable version.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2008

    A Fresh New Look That Makes Sense

    As an experienced triathlete and runner, when I read Brain Training my first reaction was 'At last -- someone who makes sense out some of the contradictions and puzzles of training!' From 10k to Ironman training, I have had nagging questions about some of the traditional thinking related to heart rate zone training. Matt Fitzgerald provides a new lens with which to look at how we train, compete and recover. I highly recommend this for anyone who wants insight and guidance into getting the most from your own brain and brawn!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2008

    Not your average running book...

    Coming back into running a few years ago after a long hiatus 'and with a much older and slower body' I was hungry for up-to-date information on training techniques, nutrition, recovery, etc. I read books by Jack Daniels, Pete Pfitzinger, Hal Higdon, among others. There was lots of great and helpful information, but nothing really different from what I had learned when I ran back in the 80's. Then I found another of Matt's books 'The Cutting Edge Runner' which had appealed to me as a scientist, with evidence-based information on nutrition, cross-training, and recovery that wasn't always available in the other texts. I also have enjoyed Matt's books on cross-training and triathlon so I ordered 'Brain Training for Runners' as soon as I learned it was published. I have read it, and am employing many of the suggestions in my own training. The use of proprioceptive cues is completely new to me, and the stretching and strength drills are stressed as more integral than in most other programs. As I've only recently began incorporating his latest training methods into my workouts, I cannot say if or how much I may improve. However, after struggling somewhat coming back into running in 2005, I've had much greater success in the past year as I've followed his advice on nutrition, recovery, and cross-training. I just ran Houston marathon in a Boston-qualifying time, at a pace that I barely could hold for a 5K race just a couple of years ago. I'm looking forward to utilizing the concepts detailed in this new book in the coming year. I think this book will be very useful for master's age runners 'the cross training will take some of the pounding off of aging joints', and for those who aren't put off by doing some training that might be considered a bit odd by your running partners and look strange to your neighbors. 'Like running with your arms out in front of you like you're holding a bushel basket, running stiff-legged, 'zombie walk' and more' My only gripe with the book, albeit a very minor one, is that a large portion of the book is made up of specific training program schedules. It's a hefty paperback, and someone who just gave it a cursory look before buying may be disappointed when they get home to find that the entire book isn't chock full of Matt's thoughtful prose.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 13, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    WOW

    Another example of how it doesn't pay to own a Nook. The nook-book version costs more than the paper version. WHY? WHY? WHY? Shame on Penguin and B&N.

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2008

    This is a must-read for all runners!!

    This is a great book for runners who want to improve. I have read many books on mental imagery and mental toughness for running and sport, but this book is a cut above the others. It specifically talks about the science of brain training and how one can improve by doing certain exercises specific to running and racing and injury prevention, etc. It uses an eight-point brain training system. We really underestimate the power of the brain when it comes to training and performance. And most of us spend a lot of time training the body, but not enough time training the brain. I have read this book from cover to cover and continue to refer to it. I credit this book with my 2 minute personal record at the San Jose Half Marathon in October last year. At mile 11, when I was hurting, I remembered one of the propioceptor cues mentioned in the book and gripped the ground with my toes and I imagined pushing the ground back like a belt. It was amazing how much better I felt and I was able to pick up the pace. I had never before been able to pick up the pace at mile 11 of a 13.1 mile race. So this was wonderful to see such immediate results. This book is what you need to give you that extra edge.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2008

    That's using your brain!

    What a concept...reset, train, and reinforce the way the brain adapts to change and improve your running efficiency. I've always heard that it's mind over matter. Now there is scientific proof to support this. Matt's done a stellar job creating a plan for 5, 10, half and full runs. I've only started with the plan and already see an improvement in time and health.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2008

    Cutting edge training

    Matt Fitzgerald has written an excellent and very comprehensive book on running, focusing on the connections between the body and the brain. He leverages on cutting-edge research to make the best training recommendations possible, and the results are excellent. Each strengthening excercise, stretch and run has a neurological justification. Feedback mechanisms, including how your body feels, your motivation, and the collective wisdom of previous runners, are detailed and reacting to them discussed. Detailed training plans for common race lengths are included in the back. I have used Brain Training with great success -- trimming almost a full minute off my 'albeit very slow' mile. I find it an excellent, comprehensive approach to training and improving performance.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 20, 2011

    Great book!!

    Written well and full of applicable physiology. The only thing that kept it from 5 stars is better citing of referenced studies

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2008

    Great Training Guide

    A running friend highly recommended I read Matt's book while I was recovering from an injury. I wish I had read it before I was injured, I probably would of spared myself 6 months of recovery time. I've been following his workouts and stretches faithfully and for the first time since the injury I've been able to progress. It pays to read this book and to run smart.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2008

    Excellent read

    Having hit a bit of a plateau with my racing results I was looking to change my training approach. I found what I was looking for in this book. Very comprehensive and readable book for serious runners with discussion of core strength workouts, running drills and guidance on how to improve your stride. Training plans that integrate all these are included. It covers some of the physiology covered in Tim Noakes `Lore of Running¿ but is more oriented toward the layman. Very interesting and enjoyable and it has impacted the way I am running 'hopefully I¿ll see some good results'.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2008

    excellent book

    As a division III cross country coach and chiropractor to many athletes, I have incorportated the information in this book into my team training as well as recommending the practices to patients. I have found the techniques and recommendations easy to follow and invaluable in achieving proper technique and substantial improvements in runners of all abilities. He has provided a wealth of information into an easy to follow and incorporate format. Definately a wonderful addition to any runners library

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2008

    A different approach to training for runners

    I wrote this review for our local running club: Fitzgerald, a professional coach who may be familiar to you as a contributor to Runner¿s World and author of other running books, proposes a very different approach to training for running. To be more accurate, he proposes a different goal in training than our usual focus on cardiovascular fitness. Fitzgerald asserts that our limits as runners are set more by our brain than by our heart and lungs (actually, no one now thinks lung capacity is limiting). This makes a lot of sense, and answers some puzzles that have been bothering me.: First, why should a given pace feels hard in a workout but easy in a race? If the pace you can maintain is simply matter of lactate accumulation and acidosis, why should it be different in the two situations? Second, why does a finishing kick exist? If you are truly out of fuel (glycogen depleted) at the end of an endurance race, where is that ¿extra¿ energy coming from? Third, how is it that we are so good at moderating our race pace for different distances? If I tell you to race 5.3 miles or 9.2, you will choose a pace such that you are similarly exhausted at the race¿s end. Somehow, we can calibrate your effort even to odd distances. The answer, Fitzgerald argues, is that your subconscious brain is running the show. The brain collects data from the body and monitors your status. Its goal is prevent catastrophic failure of any of our systems that might occur from extreme departure from homeostasis. Homeostasis is the regulation of our physiology within functional boundaries. The brain interprets physiological stress (as during a hard workout or race) as impending disaster and induces your conscious decision to slow down. It does this by producing sensations of discomfort and distress. It is pretty good at this! In fact, Fitzgerald argues, the brain is too good at this, at least for our ambitions as runners. This is because the brain is overly cautious. Fitzgerald mentions scientific studies that indicate that we do not approach truly dangerous levels of lactate buildup, muscle pH, or glycogen depletion. In one study, isolated muscle fibers in the laboratory can endure much greater stress than we experience in races without failure. Although studies on isolated fibers may not extrapolate to the integrated body in an uncomplicated way, it is pretty obvious that racers are not actually close to death at the end of a race. In short, the Brain Training theory is that our brains limit our maximum performance, not our physiology. While cardiovascular fitness is still important, the brain training aspect of Fitzgerald¿s approach is a systematic attempt to recalibrate the threshold your brain will allow you to reach before applying its brake. While this recalibration may be an outcome of normal training, it is not a specific goal. With the implicit hypothesis that familiarity with racing levels of stress brings about the hoped for brain recalibration, Brain Training focuses on race-specific workouts and experience of race levels of mental stress. Brain training also encompasses improvements in neuromuscular fitness. Neuromuscular fitness is achieved by the training of specific neural pathways from brain to muscle. Every motor skill improves with practice (think of knitting, typing, or shooting a basketball). Although running does not involve fine dexterity, running form can be improved by practice, and Fitzgerald instructs us to perform a variety of exercises and drills to improve form. Some of these involve proprioception ¿the sensory system that makes you aware of where your appendages are in three-dimensional space. Fitzgerald is also a strong advocate of cross-training, including strength and flexibility exercises. While these are not intrinsic components of Brain Training, they are related, for i

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2008

    A reviewer

    book was informative, concise, and had some excellent pointers to add to my running.been running for over 20 years and implementing some of his recommendations and overall theories here and there have really helped!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2008

    Evidence Based Running

    The (somewhat) new trend in medicine these days is 'evidence based' treatment, i.e. do what's been scientifically proven to produce the desired result. What a concept! Sounds like a no-brainer (and it is...). Matt has taken this approach to training for running, and has created a new paradigm in the process. The evidence is in, and Matt has gone to great lengths to assimilate and analyze the results in this highly readable book. Even if you aren't scientifically inclined you can read around the technical stuff and develop a program based on these concepts.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2008

    A reviewer

    When I read Lore of Running by Tim Noakes and learned all about his 'central governor' theory, I thought, 'This idea that the brain controls running performance is very interesting. But does it make any difference in terms of how I should train?' In Brain Training for Runners, Matt Fitzgerald answers this question with a resounding 'yes', and he explains exactly what the practical implications of the new brain-centered model of running performance are. It's the most innovative running book I've read in a long time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2008

    Brain Training makes good running sense

    I've read this book several times and am currently following the training schedule for the level 2 marathon training. I found the book clearly written, well-based, both in science and in anecdotal examples. Mostly, I've found the that the simple visualizations that Matt shares to help one modify form has improved not only my speed, but the sheer enjoyment I get from my runs.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2008

    A reviewer

    After a disappointing race in Chicago 07', I picked up Brain Training book and immediately was in awe with the new concepts such as getting through the wall, staying injury free, going by feel and using proprioceptive cues which all helped me to shave almost 25 minutes off my last race! Highly recommend, great read to all new and experience runners!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2008

    Interesting approach to training

    I'm following the level 1 half marathon schedule in Matt Fitzgerald's book and two features I especially like are '1' the 'proprioceptive cues' or mental images that help the runner become more in tune with good running form. I have already noticed that when I focus on these images, my speed increases even without the actual conscious 'decision' to run faster and '2' the core work that is included in the schedule. While many good schedules don't include core workouts, sometimes it's too easy to skip them when they're not structured into the schedule as they are here. But especially fascinating also are the ideas and information about how the brain responds to certain cues. I don't have a science background, yet the information was put in readable, understandable terms and taught me something new about an organ whose potential we are just beginning to tap.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 38 Customer Reviews

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