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The Think System

This past week was the West Irondequoit High School’s musical performance of The Music Man. My daughter, Erika, is a senior this year and has been in the musicals since Jr high, so this performance was extra emotional for the Nash family.

The story is about a con man posing to be a professor of music. He promises unsuspecting citizens of River City, Iowa to put together a boys band, selling them band instruments, instruction books and uniforms. The kicker is that “Professor Harold Hill” can’t read music, let alone teach it! He shares his new and innovative method, “The Think System”. He says that all the kids need to do is think about the music, and they’ll eventually be able to play it.

The kids did a great job with the musical and I was teary eyed when I saw Erika take her last bow. Later that day I was reading a Facebook post from a runner I work with. She had just completed a tempo run and wasn’t sure how in the world she’d be able to keep that pace for her upcoming race. We all know that saying, “Running is 90% mental, and the other 10% is in your head.” So, I realized that maybe Harold Hill was on to something with his Think System.

In his book The Runner’s Brain: How to Think Smarter to Run Better, Dr. Jeff Brown addresses the brain’s role in our running and how we can use our mind to run better and race smarter. He talks about the use of visualization and imagery when preparing for a big training run or race. The Think System? He cites a study done at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation that compares weight lifters. One group were “mental weight lifters”, only thinking about lifting heavy bars. The other group actually did the workout in the gym. In the end, the group who did the actual workout gained an expected 30% strength. The group that never even touched a weight? They gained 14%!! Did I mention they never lifted a pound?

In the Music Man, the last scene shows Harold Hill in cuffs having to direct the newly formed, non-rehearsed band. He says to himself, “Think men…… THINK!” and he directs what sounds like bursts and blasts that barely make any kind of melody. The Think System needs to be done in conjunction with actual training. If Harold Hill had offered some real practice/ training opportunities along with “thinking the minuet in G” maybe it would have turned out differently (check out these video😊).

Do you have a big race coming up? Or perhaps a challenging training run? Why not try out the Think System for yourself? Check out this excellent article on about the different methods of visualization and how to properly utilize the skills.

Happy Mental Running!!!

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