Runner's World:The Runner's Brain

by Jeff Brown and Liz Neporent

I received this book for free for review purposes, please see Disclosure Policy for more information on all my reviews.

THE RUNNER’S BRAIN How to Think Smarter to Run Better - "When it comes to running, people think a lot more about their heart rate, posture and stride than they do about their brain. But for the Boston Marathon’s lead psychologist, Dr. Jeff Brown, the brain is a vital organ to ensure running success. In the highly-anticipated new book Dr. Brown takes what he has learned working with thousands of runners of every level, and demonstrates how understanding the mechanisms behind thoughts and emotions can help achieve peak performance. A Harvard-trained clinical psychologist specializing in sport and performance psychology, he shares the brain science and sport psychology tactics that are implemented every day in his private practice. These methods unlock and capture the brain’s potential to propel runners to new heights."


Once I started to become more serious about running and knew that it was something I was going to stick with, I started doing research on how to become a better runner. Most of what I read what technique based and gave information on proper form, nutrition, strength training and so on. Every now and then there would be mention of the mental aspect of the sport. As a runner, this was the part that seemed the hardest to nail down. Every athlete has that good angel/bad angel sitting on their shoulders that are fighting it out while we try to get our miles in. The challenge has always been which angel to listen to. Enter Runner’s Brain by Dr. Jeff Brown.


I have always found it hard to read books about running. Perhaps it is sitting reading about something I should be doing that seems to trip me up. However, this book was a bit different for me since I am hitting a point in my running life that I see things changing and getting better. Perhaps I am just eager to learn how to keep this feeling going that I found myself reading, and sometimes re-reading, sections of the book to get a grasp on how it may help me.


It is no secret that runners think differently, just ask my soon to be ex-husband about that. He never understood why I would spend money on races when it is something I do often for free all on my own. This book explains the effect that pack mentality can have on a runner by helping increase performance just on the knowledge that there is an audience. That going through your race day rituals and superstitions (the latter are best explained in Chapter 8) can have a positive effect on a runner’s performance and in some cases help prevent negative thinking. He talks about enclothed cognition and explains that we often develop beliefs based on how we feel when we wear certain items of clothing. The line we need to be wary of is allowing the superstition to overpower how our brain thinks about our actual performance. I may love my running pants that I wear to every race but when I get to the point where I cannot run well if I don‘t have them I may need to start to associate my performance in a different way.


Dr. Brown explains that learning the psychology and science by how our brain works while we run is important for building our identity as a runner. I often have talked about how I am not a “fast runner” but why do I feel the need to quantify or qualify that. If I run, I am a runner. Building routines, finding rituals, goal setting, distraction and visualization are all tools that Dr. Brown helps us develop though the course of this book. Whether you are a new runner or have been running for years this book will undoubtedly teach you to think about how you really feel on each and every run. It will help bridge that gap that we, as runners, sometimes have between our runner’s mind and our body.


As Dr. Brown explains, “believe first, then achieve”.

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