Earlier this month, Asics unveiled an experimental running track in London--almost totally dark with no tech, no music, no scenery, no "comforts" and no finish line. The idea was to remove all distractions, forcing runners to truly focus on synchronising the mind and body.
Now, the company and agency Edelman have released a video that explains the results of the experiment --and they are fascinating. By making conditions tougher (running without any performance indicators, no clear finish line, or positive encouragement such as cheering) even experienced athletes saw a decline in their 5k times by an average of 60 seconds--the difference between winning a medal or not in competitive endurance sports. In fact the 4.5% difference in average 5K performance was bigger than Asics anticipated--in some cases, as much as two minutes.
So what does this prove? Asics argues that it shows that if you can train your mind by running in this kind of environment, you can become mentally stronger. and thus, eventually outpace ordinary athletes who rely on music, crowds and so forth.
What's more, athletes who took part in the experiment also said they experienced a kind of euphoria of "pure running" at some point on the track.
Of course it begs the question: for an amateur runner, why deprive yourself of music and distractions if it makes the run harder? Nevertheless, well done to Asics for posing the question and positioning its brand as boundary-breaking--when competitor campaigns include Nike's Breaking2, that's important.