Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned vet, chances are, you’ve trained for this marathon. You’ve hit the gym, spent hours on the treadmill, and watched as your time and stamina improved.
But what if there’s more you could be doing? What if there was something to help you enhance your performance that didn’t involve better shoes or energy drinks. We’re talking about improving how your brain and body actually functions.
Neuropeak Pro (https://www.neuropeakpro.com/) optimizes human performance. Regardless of your line of work, better performance yields greater results. This means more wins for a team, higher productivity for a business unit, or increased recovery, focus, and creativity for an individual.
We work to promote balance within the autonomic nervous system. Utilizing a range of interventions including heart rate variability and neurofeedback training, Neuropeak Pro is able to develop training programs that help individuals reach their full potential.
We sat down with Vice President of Clinical Services, Nick Bolhuis, to chat about brain health as it relates to peak performance.
Neuropeak Pro: How does neurofeedback work?
Nick Bolhuis: Neurofeedback, or EEG biofeedback, is a very specific protocol that is utilized to improve brainwave activity.
Neurofeedback is basically a reward system that teaches the brain how to function in a more optimal range. Neurofeedback training is entirely subconscious – and that’s exactly why it works. An individual who can’t sleep would gladly “think a happy thought” if it helped them get to sleep. Thinking happy thoughts will not bring your brainwaves into balance, though.
Through proper training, and the implementation of neurofeedback technology and methodology, the individual’s brain learns the proper range for a good night’s sleep. As with traditional biofeedback, the goal with neurofeedback training is to achieve long-term results.
NPP: What are some techniques that athletes can use to improve brain health?
NB: While there isn’t one single “magic pill” to improve your brain health, there are several techniques and lifestyle habits that can make a big difference in how your brain functions. We’ve developed an entire curriculum on how to maximize the brain’s ability to perform and recover.
We look at different forms of meditation, mindfulness practices, sleep quality, diet, exercise, and something called heart rate variability (HRV). HRV is a measure of how the autonomic nervous system is responding. Because our bodies do not distinguish between life-threatening stress and everyday-life stress, it’s easy for these responses to become overactive. This can prevent the brain and body from functioning at its best. We are able to train and improve HRV, through interventions such as biofeedback, and neurofeedback. A higher HRV means a greater ability to adapt to stress and function in the appropriate stress response, to maximize your brain and bodies efforts.
NPP: What are the main benefits of brain training as it relates to peak performance and endurance sports?
NB: Recovery is huge. Whether it’s after a big event, a hard workout, or long day of travel, mental and physical recovery and rejuvenation can make or break a runner’s performance. It’s all about “how quickly can I get into recovery mode?”
When it comes to running and endurance sports, brain training helps achieve a sustainable balance between nervous system responses. If your brain is overworking while you run, you’re burning extra energy than you might need. Some runners whose sympathetic, or “fight or flight” response, is overacting may experience burnout faster because their heart and lungs are not working together as efficiently as they could be.
On the flip side, runners stuck in the parasympathetic response may be disengaging too often, causing loss of focus. The other problem with the brain checking out too often is that it may not allow runners to activate the energy reserves they have. They may never be able to activate that sympathetic mode when they need to push, so they’re not maximizing their work.
Granted, this balancing act of switching between nervous system responses is all done on a subconscious level. It’s up to the brain to maintain this homeostasis to optimize the runner’s performance. That’s why our training programs are focused on strengthening specific areas of the brain to better adapt and function better.
Essentially, a stronger brain means better ability to sleep, recover, and focus, which will ultimately help you reach your peak potential.
NPP: How incremental is the progress? Will athletes who focus on brain health see huge gains right away?
NB: As with any training program, it takes times. Just as you train your body to see results, the brain works the same way. Our programs are designed for obtainable results that last. Most training programs of any kind last 3 months, ours is no different.
The first half of the program is based around breaking old patterns, maybe getting used to training at the advised frequency, maybe getting some extra breathing sessions in that week. It’s not uncommon that around halfway through the program, clients notice changes in their behavior or moods – sometimes it’s the people around them have started noticing improvements before they do. The remainder of the program is focused on really driving those results further and ensuring that they will last. Because our program causes the brain to physiologically change, we want to ensure the brain continues to function in this new, optimized state.
NPP: Where can someone get their initial evaluation and start the program?
NB: We will be set up at the Shamrock Run offering discounted brain performance evaluations March 13th & 14th. This evaluation is non-invasive and provides a comprehensive look at your current brain efficiency, which will give us insight on how to customize a training program specific to your brain and needs.
Come visit us at the Neuropeak Pro booth at the event, or schedule your time slot ahead of time here (https://www.neuropeakpro.com/running).
777 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Portland, OR 97232
Rooms C127 & C128
Friday 3/13 – 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Saturday 3/14 – 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
If you have any questions about the program or would like to chat with a team member, get in touch here (https://www.neuropeakpro.com/running).