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I used scare quotes around the phrase “negative emotions” earlier because, while such emotions are typically unpleasant to experience and are in that sense negative, they are natural, necessary, and useful and in that sense are not really negative. In this chapter I will discuss the so-called negative emotions of fear and anger. These emotions play roles in every field of endeavor, including running. Too often, traditional sports psychology treats fear and anger in sport as something to be overcome with little tools such as deep breathing and visualization exercises. But from a mind-body perspective that is informed by our current neuroscientific understanding of emotion, fear and anger are sources of valuable information about perceived threats to well-being. As knowledge is power, the best way to deal with anger or fear in your running is to identify its cause and then make a rational decision about how to use this emotion to benefit your running. As we will see, the best move is not always to quash the emotion reflexively. WHAT WE ARE AFRAID OF The seat of the emotional faculties is a region of the brain called the limbic system, which is one of the most primitive parts of the brain. A core structure within the limbic system is a pebble-sized thing called the amygdala, which exists in even the dumbest of animals, including fish, rodents, and reptiles. We know what the amygdala does in part because of research involving surgical lesions to the amygdalas of laboratory animals; these lesions disturbed the animals’ capacity for emotional learning (that is, for recognizing stimuli associated with rewards or pain and modifying behavior accordingly). The fear response to particular types of stimuli appears to be hardwired into the limbic system. For example, like many people, my wife experiences vertigo and tingling skin when she finds herself near the edge of a high place; this is an innate fear that need not be learned. But the limbic system is interconnected with every other part of the human brain, including those parts responsible for the most advanced conscious faculties, and these connections enable us to learn to fear all kinds of things that are much worse than high places, such as failing to achieve our goals in running events.These His-and-Her Valentine’s Day Workouts Are Almost as Good as … Bestcelebritystyle

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