Jon Heydenreich

Jon Heydenreich

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I study the dynamics of endurance sports. What stops us? Turns out that the brain is what stops us. When our core temperature goes up, it is the brain that says, “No more.” When dehydration hits us, the brain says, no more. The brain acts as a governor and it is the brain which tells us we are too weak or too tired.

In actuality, when we feel too tired, we do have the reserves to go on. But the brain says, “no.” A lot of those athletes who have to stop – give them a few moments and they are walking around without too much trouble. The energy is there, but the brain is the stopper. It is easy to say, “I will override my brain.” But when the brain gets those signals it also signals the mind – stop. The brain protects us.

In entering this bike race up Mt. Washington, my approach to training – at least once in a while – is to get to that point where the brain is about ready to stop me. Turns out that you can get the brain accustomed to that area. In effect, the brain registers “Hmmm, been here before and managed…” If it is brand new territory the brain might just say, “no more.”

Be mindful of where you have been. It might be a reservoir of strength for you. Nary a soul has had an easy walk in this life. You have been shepherded through places and you can live through whatever this day holds. You have already been through rough times.

Jon Heydenreich is pastor at Brattleboro’s Trinity Lutheran Church.