Before you start making cuckoo sounds the Reticular Activation System is basically the brains filter to stimulii. For the geeks it is the Extrathalamic control module system consisting of the Midbrain, Memencephalic Nucleus, Thalmic Intralaminar Nucelues, Dorsal Hypothalamus and Tegmentum.
For the not so geeky... Neurons provide stimulus from all of our sensors as well as the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. They transmit literally billions of messages a second to the brain. The RAS filters these so that only the important message or, what we want to focus on, gets though. The RAS changes and we can control what does and doesnt get through which is the point of this post.
Want a simple example of how we change the RAS ? Have you ever decided to buy a new car - for example a Volkswagen ? Have you noticed how you now notice so many more Volkswagens on the road now ? Have people suddenly all gone out and bought Volkswagens ? No - they were always there. The difference is you have now changed what 'messages' pass through the RAS so suddenly you can 'see' all of those Volkswagens.
In fact I often call this the "Red Volkwagen' filter
Thinking about this for racing.
1. Racing. The RAS filters through ALL messages - what you see, what you hear and what you feel. You need to think of pain as an email from your body to your brain - it is a message. Like email do you choose to believe all emails you receive ? If you do I have a relative in Nigeria that wants to wire you a lot of money. Start classifying messages as to whether they are legitimate or spam. If you step on a nail the message is real - if you feel like you cant keep going or are 'about to' cramp should you give the message all your bank details or send it to the junk folder. A lot of times when racing and I felt like the going was tough I would ask myself specifically WHY it was tough and 99% of the time it was my brain telling the body not the other way round. A common message I see is when people say that they couldnt hold their current pace for another 10km. What this thought is doing is opening up the RAS to these types of messages - essentially removing the filter. Creating this junk mail folder teaches the RAS to automatically filter out these messages - if they aren't being 'seen' they become like the volkswagen was before you chose to get one and are automatically filtered out.
2. Life. If you choose to have a negative outlook then you are literally opening up the RAS to only see negative things. Forest for the trees, glass half empty etc are all 'views' of the world which means how you have set up your RAS. Like the volkswagen if you program your RAS to see positives and opportunities that is what you will see. For those that studied electronics energy flows from a positive charge to a negative one - life is the same. Positive people give off energy, negative people suck it in from others.
Treat physical feelings and thoughts as emails and decide what should get through your junk filter and what should get sent directly to trash.