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Brain Work: How Internet Chess improved my Running !

Posted by Torr | Chess,Marathon | Sunday 7 December 2014 14:55

Ok, so maybe you read my October post on how to improve and reprogramme your Brain ? You pursuit in this could be many things such as working smarter and better, becoming more at ease, more loving or, like me, wanting to improve your running. Let me give you my personal breakthrough on a very surprising piece of Brain Work: how playing chess on the Internet improved my running technique !

Firstly, let me explain two concepts of Internet Chess that might be unfamiliar to you:

A) Bullet Chess Games
You typically have 1 minute for the whole game !

B) Premove
Due to the very limited amount of time, one tries (especially in the opening game) to move “before it’s time”, that is move whilst the other players time is actually counting. These premoves are often successful and save time, but can of course lead to major blunders and direct losses in a single move. The premoves are all about saving time.

Watch the first three minutes of the video below and notice how many moves that are made literally within 1 second ! This is only doable due to the premoves, ie. (intuitively/instrictively) thinking and thus acting ahead.


Premoves in Bullet Chess: thinking and moving “before time” (notice the clocks versus number of moves)

My Achilles heel in Running: Cadence
My awesome coach Aleksandar Sørensen-Markovic of OOB Coaching early spotted that in running, my cadence was way to low. I knew this myself, obviously, but it came as a surprise that it was way too low even when running “fast” (for my running form), and the general importance of keeping a high cadence at all times was also an eye-opener to me.


Cadence explained. Note in the video: “muscle memory” equals neuron memory equals a Brain Pattern

My Achilles heel in Chess: Losing on time
Well, knowledge is one thing, skills  to change the situation are another matter and to put it short, I struggled with this through months (through years, actually). Until I remembered my Achilles heel in Chess too: I HATE LOSING – and especially on time in a won position. I REALLY REALLY hate it. And this is a VERY familiar pattern for my Brain: to premove in those bullet games to avoid these disgusting defeats. You may sense the motivation here is very high.

The Solution: Improving my Running Cadence by tricking my Brain
So now we have the Lego pieces all together: The Premove concept, the runner with a pathetic cadence, the childish chess player hating to lose on time (in 1 minute games, sigh) and the Brain groupie wanting to utilize the hindsight of modern Brain research as intuitively “sensed”. So what emerges of all this ?

Well, I have “tricked” my Brain to “believe” that my legs are playing bullet chess ! One leg, one color. Ground contact time equals time spend on the chess clock. Therefore, my running cadence is forced to become high – ie. using as little time as possible – as the opposite is leading to defeat.  My feet, my legs, my entire body, actually, is premoving those Running Strides and thus utilizing an indeed very trained Brain Pattern for me. The result has been a vastly improved Running Form and Cadence for me and I am now doing split times I only dreamed of in the past.

Obviously, and luckily, the common denominator to Bullet Chess and Running Cadence is: Time. Applied differently but installed in me as a very strong Brain Pattern and with a Physical Component in each area: In Chess moving the pieces, in Running moving my legs. Surely, this “trick” repeatedly uses a sort of Visualization of my Running Cadence, thus implementing one of the recommended tools from the modern Brain research.

Learning Points: Identify Your Successful Skillset and Tranfer it
I believe my story here could be inspirational.  I firmly believe that Brain Work will be a central theme in many things in the years to come,  and that we are only beginning to hear about all the things modern Brain research can do for us. Or rather, how we all have the opportunity to learn, study and apply these things.

Doing so I believe that the fastest results may come by the re-utilization or transfer of skillsets (= Brain Patterns) already well installed in each of us, and, alternatively, by mimicking  Patterns observed / learned in others.

Every Human Being is the Master of something, or becoming so.