Mental fatigue and “armchair marathon training”
As I mentioned earlier, I went to a conference called “The Future of Fatigue in Exercise” a few weeks ago. One of the researchers I was most interested in hearing from was Samuele Marcora, now at the University of Kent, who has produced a bunch of interesting results on the role of mental fatigue in physical performance over the past few years. For this week’s Jockology column in the Globe and Mail, I wrote about Marcora’s theories and his latest research:
“Improve your marathon time while sitting at your computer” is the kind of claim you expect from an infomercial or a spam e-mail, not from the keynote speaker at an academic gathering.
“It sounds crazy,” Samuele Marcora admitted during his talk at a conference on fatigue at Charles Sturt University in Australia last month, “but it’s actually not.”
Dr. Marcora, a professor at the University of Kent’s Centre for Sports Studies in Britain, has spent the past few years unravelling the surprising links between tired brains and physical performance. His initial results suggest that what we perceive as physical limits are actually highly dependent on our levels of motivation and mental fatigue – and that we may be able to use this fact to our advantage. [...]