Thursday, August 28, 2014

Can Athletes Improve their Endurance by Using Marine Corps ‘Mental Fitness’ Techniques?

Can Athletes Improve their Endurance by Using Marine Corps ‘Mental Fitness’ Techniques?

A Powerpoint slide from Dr. Millegan's presentation

by Kathleen Lisson

I recently learned about how Marines in San Diego are using ‘mental fitness’ exercises to combat chronic pain.

In a lecture sponsored by the UC San Diego Health System Center for Integrative Medicine, Dr. Jeffrey Millegan, MD MPH presented a video case report of a US Marine with chronic pain who participated in the Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD) Mind Body Medicine program.

The Marine was living with a debilitating injury and chronic pain, but found healing through starting a meditative practice. Dr. Millegan spoke about how Marines who had a regular meditative practice were about to stay “in the zone” in their daily lives.

If Marines find value in adding meditation to their daily lives, would it also benefit endurance athletes?

Meditation can help athletes change the way they react to situations and emotions that can decrease performance, like pain, stress and fear of failure.

If you could lower your post-workout stress levels and change the way you perceive the normal pain of endurance training:
  • Would the quality of your workouts improve?
  • Would you be less likely to skip workouts?
  • Would you feel more "in the zone" and confident about your training and performance?

I am excited to find out. 

I have run a few half marathons in the past, but I will put my love of the distance to the test as I try to earn a Triple Crown in 2015. The training will be hard and last for over 9 months. I am going to add meditation to my workout schedule and see if I can use the ‘mental training’ it provides to keep my body healthy through the process.

A card Dr. Millegan gave to the attendees

I came away from the presentation with a number of resources:

Relax Relax is a Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center Health Promotion and Wellness Department website with mental fitness resources including guided meditations:

The NMCSD website:

Integrated Health Community Portal -

According to their website, the UCSD Center for Integrative Medicine focuses on whole-person wellness by addressing physical, as well as lifestyle, emotional, psychological and spiritual needs.

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