How the Rewire Brain Training System Works

The mental side of athletic training and competition is a critical component to all levels of performance from the amateur to the professional and yet very little time is dedicated to cognitive-based training. The current brain training solutions for athletes are ineffectual and do not translate to true athletic performance gains because they are performed out of context from real-world training and do not replicate the mental and emotional challenges normally faced during competition.

The Rewire product is the first mental endurance training solution for athletes that can be used during real-world training. The brain training protocol used by Rewire is based upon the findings of 10 years of scientific research around mental fatigue in endurance sports. Studies have shown that over time brain fatigue training can reduce an athlete’s level of perceived exertion (RPE) thereby increasing their athletic potential and mental toughness over time. By focusing on brain training that fatigues the mind during workouts,  athletes can reproduce real-world scenarios that they will face in competition without risking injury or over training.

THE SCIENCE

Screenshots of one of the Rewire brain training protocols called a Stroop Test

The brain training protocol used in the Rewire system is based on a series of simple neuropsychological tests displayed on a smartphone during indoor training. The tests activate the part of the brain responsible for the suppression of actions that are inappropriate to the goal-driven task at hand. In other words, the Rewire system creates situations very similar to competition where will power, self-control and focus are required in order to complete the workout successfully. This brain training protocol otherwise known as inhibitory control testing has been shown in studies, including Brownsberger et al., 2013, to influence an athlete’s perceived level of exertion (RPE) and, as a result, their endurance performance. So if you can add more mental load to every workout and adapt over time what the science has shown is that you can reduce your level of perceived exertion thereby improving both your physical performance and your mental toughness over time. For example:

Staiano et al., 2015 showed that brain training is highly effective in improving endurance performance when combined with traditional physical training. Those in the brain training group had three times the improvement in time to exhaustion (TTE) than the control group (+126% compared to +42%) over a 12 week training period. In this study, participants in the brain training group had a lower RPE than the control group. This indicates that that the increase in endurance performance was due to having a reduced perception of effort as a result of brain training.


The science has also shown that what you believe about your abilities and your level of self confidence goes a long way towards achieving your athletic potential and goals.   Self-talk is a psychological technique for improving self-belief, reducing the perception of effort during training and racing and keeping on task during challenging situations. Self-talk phrases, otherwise known as mantras, consist of simple phrases that your repeat in your mind whenever you need to stay on task.  For example, during a particularly difficult interval session you might repeat “calm and focused” or “strong and steady”. A study by Blachfield et al., 2013 showed that using self-talk significantly reduces an athletes RPE and increases their Time to Exhaustion (TTE). The improvement in endurance is likely due to the decrease in RPE.


‘I like to create mantras for different parts of the race because it brings my attention and focus back if it starts to wander.’

Laura Kline, Rewire Athlete and Former World Duathlon Champion
Screenshots of the Rewire mantra customize screen (left) and the screen that appears during training intervals with random mantras (right)

HOW IT WORKS

The Rewire app connects, via Bluetooth, with your power meter, heart rate monitor and the Rewire brain training straps designed for each sport so that you can add brain training easily to your traditional endurance workouts. For example, if you are a cyclist: simply pair your biometric devices with the Rewire app, mount your smartphone to your stem and attach the brain training straps to your handlebars to start your indoor training workout. For runners, it’s even easier: simply put your smartphone in front of you on your treadmill, attach the brain training straps to your hands and start your workout.

Diagram of the Rewire training system used for cycling

At specific intervals during each workout, the brain training tests will appear on your smartphone screen and you will be challenged to complete each question while also keeping up your target physical performance goals. The Rewire system will also automatically identify the most difficult parts of the workout and display your pre-programmed self-talk mantras just prior to each difficult effort so that you can utilize the benefits of self-talk. 

PERFORMANCE METRICS

Screenshots of workout metrics during training (left) and the workout metrics summary after your workout is complete (right)

In order to measure your performance the Rewire system records all of the traditional physiological metrics such as average heart rate, average and normalized power, intensity factor (IF), training stress score (TSS), cadence, interval time and total workout time.   Additionally, the system also tracks your mental performance including response time, accuracy, RPE, session RPE and a proprietary metric called your perception gap. Your Perception Gap is the difference between your self-rated RPE (how hard you felt like you worked) compared with your expected RPE based on how hard you actually worked under the conditions of mental fatigue, using data from the power meter and heart rate monitor. By measuring the difference between your perception vs. your actual physical performance the Rewire system establishes a methodology whereby you can measure your mental performance over time. The goal is to reduce the gap in your perception when training or competing under mentally fatiguing situations so that your mind is not a limiter to achieving your true athletic potential.

Screenshots of the Rewire performance metrics screens including summary of all workouts (left) and mental endurance chart explanation (right)

From within the Rewire app you can view the details of every workout as well as your performance by day, week, month or year and view your cumulative mental performance ranking and your best mental performance workouts.   

THE WORKOUTS

Screenshots of the Rewire workout categories (left) and a workout details screen with mental and physical performance goals (right)

We have created a library of workouts for all training intensities and durations. We also know that, as athletes, we are always time crunched between our training schedule and managing work, family and other priorities. That’s why we’ve created workout options that can be done during your regular training that require no additional time or if prefer you can do supplementary workouts called ‘double-ups’ taking only 15-20 minutes on either side of your planned workout.

WHAT COACHES AND ATHLETES ARE SAYING


‘It’s not letting your mind wander and your legs slow down as it keeps you focused the entire time.’

Laura Kline, Former World Duathlon Champion and Rewire beta athlete.


‘As triathletes, we often focus on just swimming, biking and running and don’t think about the mental aspect of things. Having this app has really helped me focus on that and sharpen my mind while I’m doing my training.’

Rebeccah Wassner, Three-Time Winner of the New York City Triathlon and Rewire beta athlete.


‘Most of us are looking for distractions while riding indoors, whereas Rewire provides something that commands absolute focus.’

Joe Holmes, Former Elite Road Racer for 20 years and Cycling Coach and Rewire beta athlete.

HOW TO GET THE REWIRE BRAIN TRAINING SYSTEM

We are currently in the final stages of manufacturing and will be offering pre-order discounts this Fall (2019) with the goal of making this product available for the 2020 winter training season.

Interested? Join our growing community on Instagram and subscribe to our newsletter.

Can’t wait until it is publicly available? Submit an application to become a Rewire beta athlete


Rewire Beta Athlete: Rebeccah Wassner

“As triathletes, we often focus on just swimming, biking and running and don’t think about the mental aspect of things” says Rebeccah Wassner, a professional triathlete and Rewire Athlete. “Having this app has really helped me focus on that and sharpen my mind while I’m doing my training.”

Rebeccah, who is a three time winner of the New York City Triathlon, finds benefit from using the app during easier workouts as a more productive distraction: “During easy workouts on the trainer when I would just usually tune out and watch a movie, I’ve been queuing up the app and really enjoying just getting that mental focus, it passes the time and at the end I just feel more refreshed.

Rewire also helps Rebeccah prepare for inevitable setbacks that occur on race day: “As a triathlete so much of our races come down to mental toughness. Your training can go perfectly, but on race day there are endless variables – weather, mechanicals, nutrition issues, etc. Using Rewire is the best way to prepare for the mental toughness it takes to get through these issues.”

To find out more about how Rewire helps athletes like Rebeccah develop their mental focus, subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Instagram

Rewire Beta Athlete: Joe Holmes

“Most of us are looking for distractions while riding indoors, whereas Rewire provides something that commands absolute focus.” says Joe Holmes, who was an Elite Road Racer for 20 years and is now a cycling coach.

Joe uses Rewire to provide more engagement to his indoor workouts: “I think the main benefit of the app is turning mindless pedalling into a more immersive experience.”

As an elite coach who has trained state and series title winners in MTB, ultra and road categories, Joe thinks using Rewire with his athletes that he coaches will be especially helpful during the winter training season: “With the athletes that I coach I’m always looking for things to not only increase their focus but also to pass the time while they are getting in those trainer miles. Rewire is perfect for that.”  Joe’s scientific approach to coaching is clearly working, demonstrated by all of the athletes he coaches moving up at least a category or more under his guidance.

Want to learn more about how Rewire is helping athletes like Joe develop their mental endurance and focus? Subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Instagram!

Rewire Beta Athlete: Laura Kline

“One of my big things is getting comfortable with being uncomfortable says Laura Kline, a former World Duathlon Champion and Elite Ultra Runner/Triathlete/Duathlete.

Laura uses Rewire to help her mind stay focused on the task at hand and keep pushing. “It’s not letting your mind wander and your legs slow down as it keeps you focused the entire time. What I like and find useful about the app is that your legs have to go and then your mind has to keep up.”

“It gives you a controlled environment and structure so that you can choose when you want to add mental training to your workouts and you can do it as often as you’d like.”

Want to learn more about how Rewire is helping athletes develop their mental endurance? Subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Instagram!   

The Science Behind Mental Toughness

Mental toughness can be defined as a personal capacity to produce consistently high levels of subjective or objective performance despite everyday challenges and stressors as well as significant adversities. (Gucciardi et al., 2015)

Clearly, mental toughness is a beneficial quality to have, it allows you to push past inevitable setbacks to achieve success. But how do we become more mentally tough?

In a study by Jones et al., 2002, athletes ranked 12 attributes of mental toughness in order of importance. Numerous studies, including this one, show that the most important attribute of mental toughness is self-belief in your ability to achieve goals. Self-belief in yourself can be developed through vicarious experiences – by watching others who have embarked on a similar path and have achieved success, you can develop the belief that you can achieve that same success yourself. What you believe about yourself and tell yourself are crucial to mental toughness, Rewire has integrated self-talk mantras to help develop this and in turn, build your mental toughness.

“This record was in my mind for a long time, I’m so happy to have made it reality today.”

Geoffrey Kamworor – On his Half Marathon World Record (2019)
Integrated Self-Talk Mantras in the Rewire app.

In this same study, athletes ranked ‘bouncing back from performance set-backs as a result of increased determination to succeed’ as the second most important attribute of mental toughness. One of the athletes involved with the study was quoted as saying ‘Nobody’s rise to the top is completely smooth, there are always little hiccups or turns in the road.’ Negative results provide increased determination as no one ever wants to be known as a ‘failure’. This increased determination coming from failure is a key part of mental toughness, it differentiates those who will never give up from those who will.

The third most important attribute of mental toughness was a self-belief that you possess unique qualities and abilities that make you better than your opponents. Rewire is all about developing qualities that set you apart from your competition by providing mental training so that you can develop your mental endurance above that of your competitors, allowing you to have that self-belief that you are better than your opponents.

‘Every quarterback can throw a ball; every running back can run; every receiver is fast; but that mental toughness that you talk about translates into competitiveness.’

Tom Brady

The fourth attribute, and the final one we will discuss, is the ability to remain fully focused on tasks in the face of competition-specific distractions. Numerous distractions can occur in competitions, causing your mind to be taken off the task at hand reducing your performance. Using Rewire helps to develop your mental focus. You are ranked on mental focus after every training workout, with the ability to track it over time.

The metrics available in the Rewire app.
The metrics available in the rewire app including Mental Focus.

Laura Kline, Rewire Athlete and Former World Duathlon Champion, tells us: ‘It’s not letting your mind wander and your legs slow down as it [Rewire] keeps you focused the entire time.’

To summarize, mental toughness is universally accepted as a key part of athletic performance, as Eliud Kipchoge says: “If you don’t rule your mind, your mind will rule you”. Mental toughness allows you to achieve high levels of performance even in the face of setbacks. It’s time we started to work on it….

‘If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it.’

Michael Jordan

Studies Covered in Article for Further Reading

‘What Is This Thing Called Mental Toughness? An Investigation of Elite Sport Performers’
Jones G; Hanton S; Connaughton D.
JOURNAL OF APPLIED SPORT PSYCHOLOGY
Copyright © 2002 by the Association for Advancement of Applied Sport Psychology

‘The Concept of Mental Toughness: Tests of Dimensionality, Nomological Network, and Traitness’
Gucciardi F; Hanton S; Gordan S; Mallett C; Temby P
Journal of Personality 2015
© 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.