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Which therefore implies that I can manipulate how and when my brain sends messages to my body. I can therefore train my body to 'accept' levels of pain and fatigue, or downplay the suffering?
How do I do this?

Kirk Herring

Very interesting review! Cheer’s to Samuele Marcora, PhD, after years of coaching, training and racing I firmly believe his hypothesis most adequately sheds light on the complex biology (neuromusculoskeletal feedback) of fatigue. In your opinion is his hypothesis more akin to an athlete performing under the influence of a switchable cruise control, a governor with power boost, or a CNS Crew Chief managing musculoskeletal / physiologic risk? Do you believe that a “breakaway”, surge to “drop” a competitor or the “cheer” of spectators are reward enough to in the moment overcome fatigue? While fatigue saps an athlete of the means and motivation with which to continue at a supra level of effort , do you have an opinion regarding the “decoupling” of fine motor control as an athlete attempts to elevate the effort above the limits of fatigue? More importantly, in your experience what training tools best enhance the reset of an athlete’s “fatigue receptors”? And if resettable, how long can an athlete hope to keep the reset before drifting back to their genetic preset level?
So many more questions; thanks for your thoughts.

Joe Friel

Kirk H--Good questions. I wish I had an answer. If he is right (jury is still out) then it all comes down to one's capacity for suffering and what rewards are necessary to make the cost acceptable.

Joe Friel

Faizel--Practice, practice, practice!


Now i'm justified when i yell "Shut up legs!... it's all in my head."

Thanks, Joe.



I've been thinking about this recently and appreciate your insights. I am a 38 year old, middle-of-the-pack cat 4 road racer doing my winter base training on rollers. Usually my workouts are 1 hour long, but recently I've increased them to 1.5 hours and the last 1/2 hour has been less fun than the first hour. Mostly this is due to numbness in the groin and hands. My bike is new and custom-fit, so I don't think the problem is there.

Anyway, what do you think about getting my 1.5 hours of training in 2 45 minute sessions or taking a 5 minute break every half hour? Or should I just stop complaining and ride the 1.5 hours non-stop on the rollers?

Also, this podcast has some great insights into the psychology of pain which seems to relate to the perceptions of fatigue.


Regards - Harry

Joe Friel

Harry--I've been there myself. I take breaks when this happens.


Thanks boiling all that down for us. I believe I've experienced all 3 situations at different times. Maybe that is why it is so hard to conquer fatigue.


When I run my bike (distance training) I use candence and hart rate. I focus to keep my cadence at 80-90rmp and hart rate 140-150bpm (194=max).
If my heartrate goes below 140bpm then I press harder, above 150bpm I slow down.
I think that if I am below 140bpm and feel tired it is just in my head. But is it really so? Can I be tired and still have a low heartrate? If I run out of fuel will the heartrate go upp or down?


Hi, interesting post, not least that for such an essential topic wrt to sport so little actually seems to be known.

My opinion would be behind the psychobiological theory.

As a thought experiment I would suggest that if you were to conduct a totally unethical experiment where you brought atheletes to the point of where they stopped due to fatigue, they would find a new burst of energy if you released a wild animal in their vicinity. This matches the behaviour of those in extraordinary circumstances like conflict/accidents which can bring about super human levels of performance.

Further, in part, the reason some athletes are so much better than others is because they are capable of overriding what their bodies tell them. As an e.g. I have little time for Tyler Hamilton but still I have to be impressed with his performance the time he rode on in the TDF with a broken collar bone. His description of how he needed to get all his teeth fixed after the event because he had ground them down so much is a pretty vivid indicator of how far some can go beyond the point when most would give up

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