The Central Governor System.

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The central governor model suggests that exertion is throttled by some central nervous system mechanism that receives information about energetic bodily needs and motivational drives to regulate exertion and, ultimately, to prevent homeostatic breakdown, chiefly energy depletion. 1 The central governor is proposed to be some central nervous system mechanism that takes as input information about energetic needs, current physiological states, and various motivational drives to regulate physical exertion to save the organism from catastrophic homeostatic failures during physical exertion.2

The model offers a plausible ultimate explanation for why self-control seems to wane over time. Without a central governor that throttles physical effort, people might exert themselves to the point of hurting themselves and causing serious bodily damage. No bodily harm is caused by mental exertion, but the same throttle mechanism is thought to be at work. 1

The Central Governor System explains the somewhat psychological limit that we place on ourselves. The human mind is the most powerful part of the human body and it can deliver anything we instruct it to do. The 26.2-mile marathon is a great example of the effect of the Central Governor System, for performing well in the marathon requires months of intense training and a strong belief in your abilities. We play the way we train, if you cannot do it in training; it is going to be hard to replicate it on race day. When and if you hit the wall, the central governor takes over and dictates how fast you can go but you have to control the mind to push through. The mind controls the body and it would accept any instruction you give to your body. As American Industrialist Henry Ford once said “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.’

Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.’ – Henry Ford

The Central Governor Model (CGM)

In the late 1990s, Professor Tim Noakes came up with the Central Governor Model (CGM). This model proposes that endurance performance is limited by a subconscious intelligent system in the brain (the central governor) that regulates locomotor muscle recruitment so that the speed/power output sustained over a race never exceeds the capacity of the body to cope with the stress of endurance exercise. The hypothesis is that if this safety system didn’t exist, a highly motivated endurance athlete might exercise beyond his/her physiological capacity and threaten his/her own life with heat shock, myocardial ischemia, and rigor mortis.

The CGM was revolutionary because it convinced many exercise physiologists that the organ that limits endurance performance is the brain, not the cardiovascular system and fatigued locomotor muscles.

The human body is like a stock car. We may look different on the outside, but under the hood we all have huge reservoirs of potential and a governor impeding us from reaching our maximum velocity. In a car, the governor limits the flow of fuel and air so it doesn’t burn too hot, which places a ceiling on performance. It’s a hardware issue; the governor can easily be removed, and if you disable yours, watch your car rocket beyond 130 mph. It’s a subtler process in the human animal.

Our governor is buried deep in our minds, intertwined with our very identity. It knows what and who we love and hate; it’s read our whole life story and forms the way we see ourselves and how we’d like to be seen. It’s the software that delivers personalized feedback—in the form of pain and exhaustion, but also fear and insecurity, and it uses all of that to encourage us to stop before we risk it all. But, here’s the thing, it doesn’t have absolute control. Unlike the governor in an engine, ours can’t stop us unless we buy into its bullshit and agree to quit.

Sadly, most of us give up when we’ve only given around 40 percent of our maximum effort. Even when we feel like we’ve reached our absolute limit, we still have 60 percent more to give! That’s the governor in action! Once you know that to be true, it’s simply a matter of stretching your pain tolerance, letting go of your identity and all your self-limiting stories, so you can get to 60 percent, then 80 percent, and beyond without giving up.

“It takes twenty years to gain twenty years of experience, and the only way to move beyond your 40 percent is to callous your mind, day after day. Which means you’ll have to chase pain like it’s your damn job!”


The limits we encounter during exercise aren’t a consequence of failing muscles; they’re imposed in advance by the brain to ensure that we never reach true failure. And second, the brain imposes these limits by controlling how much muscle is recruited at a given effort level.

The cruel metabolic demands of the marathon, which inevitably depletes your stores of readily available fuel, mean that most people are slowing in the final miles. But with the right incentive, some are able to speed up—and it’s only the brain that can respond to abstract incentives like breaking four hours for an arbitrary distance like 26.2 miles. A further curious detail from this dataset: the faster the runners were, the less likely they were able to summon a finishing sprint. Of the runners finishing near the three-hour barrier, about 30 percent were able to speed up in the final 1.4 miles of the race; 35 percent of those trying to break four hours sped up; and more than 40 percent of those trying to break five hours managed it.

One possible interpretation is that, over the course of their long hours of training, the more committed runners had gradually readjusted the settings on their central governors, learning to leave as little as possible in reserve.


  • Daily Calm with Tamara Levitt – World Kindness Day
  • The more loving compassion we can direct to ourselves, the more we have within us to offer others. When we witness an act of kindness, our body interprets it as though we are the ones who received the kindness. Kindness is powerful beyond measure, so we begin with ourselves and we share it with others.

“A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves.” – Frederick William Faber

  • Daily Jay with Jay Shetty – Inner Demons

“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint’, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.” Vincent van Gogh.

  • Self-doubt and self-criticism are two of the harmful inner obstacles that hinder our ability to move smoothly through the world. You have to confront and welcome your inner demon to reach enlightenment and growth. To navigate our inner demons, it is best to welcome them, say “I see you”, and have tea with them. It is a necessary step towards full awareness and acceptance, where you can respond with full awareness and intention.
  • You must be true to yourself by acknowledging your feelings of laziness, unworthiness or greed. Seat with it, it may feel uncomfortable at first but as meditation instructor Tara Brach said “Seeing what is true, we hold what is seen with kindness”. These inner demons aren’t you, when you recognize that and you see yourself in a new kind of light; you can move forward.

All the Best in your quest to get better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.

Lifelong Learner | Entrepreneur | Digital Strategist at Reputiva LLC | Marathoner | Bibliophile -info@lanredahunsi.com | lanre.dahunsi@gmail.com

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