Study: Psychological Factors in Ultrarunning
The psychological processes of ultramarathon runners are not well-understood in the current literature. Previous studies have primarily focused on the physical and physiological components of ultrarunning and the few studies exploring the psychological components of ultrarunning have relied predominantly on retrospective inquiry. The purpose of this study was to use a mixed-methods, multimodal approach to examine the psychological aspects of ultrarunning. “Live” in-task quantitative and video data were collected during the course of a 100 mile and 100 km ultramarathon races that spanned 32 hours of data collection. These data were supplemented with an immediate, short postrace interview directly following the runner completing or withdrawing from the race, and then a second, in-depth interview approximately six weeks following race weekend. For the quantitative data collection, single-item, in-task measures assessed runners’ pain, fatigue, affective valence (i.e., a feeling state of “bad” or “good”), energy, attentional focus, confidence to finish, and perceived exertion. Video cameras were also used to visually record changes the runners experienced during the run. Both postrace interviews were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed with a phenomenological lens. A total of 11 runners in the 100 mile race and five runners in the 100 km race participated in this study; six runners completed the 100 mile race and four runners completed the 100 km race. Due to the lower number of participants in the 100 km race, inferential statistics were completed only with the 100 mile runners. Independent samples t-tests were conducted to examine the mean in-task ratings of finishers and non-finishers in the 100 mile run. Finishers had significantly higher confidence ratings than non-finishers at mile 65 and at mile 75. A series of repeated-measures analyses of variance (ANOVAs) assessed changes in in-task measures over the course of the ultramarathon race for the six finishers in the 100 mile race. There was a significant effect of time on the in-task measures of pain, affective valence, fatigue, energy, and exertion, with pain, fatigue, and exertion increasing and affective valence and energy decreasing over the course of the race. The videos taken during the race were used as memory prompts during the runners delayed postrace interview following race weekend. Phenomenological analysis of the interview transcripts revealed eight major chronological phases depicting the psychological aspects of the runners’ race experience: pre-race, the start, chugging along, getting dark, it gets real, final push, the finish, and post-race reflections. There were also two overarching subthemes identified in analysis that went beyond the chronological phases: the natural environment of the race and the social community of ultrarunning. Implications for theory and practice, as well as suggestion for future studies, are identified and explored.
Author: Dolores Christensen
Dolores Christensen was born and raised in Northern California. She earned her bachelor's degree in psychology and political science from Southern Oregon University (Ashland, OR) where she was a member of the women's volleyball team. She then went on to earn her master's degree in Sport and Performance Psychology from the University of Denver. Dolores is currently a fifth-year student in the Counseling Psychology PsyD program at Springfield College (Massachusetts) and is completing her internship at the University of California, Davis in the eating disorders emphasis area. Dolores has focused her clinical training on collegiate student-athletes and her dissertation is on the psychology of ultramarathon runners. She enjoys running on mountain trails in her free time.
Study: Predicting Sport Experience during Training: The Role of Change-Oriented Feedback in Athletes’ Motivation, Self-Confidence and Needs Satisfaction Fluctuations
Change-oriented feedback (COF) quality is predictive of between-athletes differences in their sport experience (Carpentier & Mageau, 2013). This study extends these findings by investigating how training-to-training variations in COF quality influence athletes’ training experience (within-athlete differences) while controlling for the impact of promotion-oriented feedback (POF). In total, 49 athletes completed a diary after 15 consecutive training sessions to assess COF and POF received during training, as well as situational outcomes. Multivariate multilevel analyses showed that, when controlling for covariates, COF quality during a specific training session is positively linked to athletes’ autonomous motivation, self-confidence and satisfaction of their psychological needs for autonomy and relatedness during the same session. In contrast, COF quantity is negatively linked to athletes’ need for competence. POF quality is a significant positive predictor of athletes’ self-confidence and needs for autonomy and competence. Contributions to the feedback and SDT literature, and for coaches’ training, are discussed.
Author: Joelle Carpentier
I am a Social and Sport Psychologist. I am interested in the explicit and implicit impacts of social environments on athletes’ experience, performance and goals pursuit. My current research focuses on the provision of change-oriented feedback (aka negative feedback) by coaches and between teammates. Can change-oriented feedback be autonomy-supportive? Can it lead to positive consequences? Should it be given or avoided? Should teammates give feedback to one another? Obviously, this line of research can also be extended to other learning contexts. I am also interested in people’s implicit perception of autonomy-supportive and controlling environments.
Study: Sensorimotor Rhythm Neurofeedback Enhances Golf Putting Performance.
Sensorimotor rhythm (SMR) activity has been related to automaticity during skilled action execution. However, few studies have bridged the causal link between SMR activity and sports performance. This study investigated the effect of SMR neurofeedback training (SMR NFT) on golf putting performance. We hypothesized that preelite golfers would exhibit enhanced putting performance after SMR NFT. Sixteen preelite golfers were recruited and randomly assigned into either an SMR or a control group. Participants were asked to perform putting while electroencephalogram (EEG) was recorded, both before and after intervention. Our results showed that the SMR group performed more accurately when putting and exhibited greater SMR power than the control group after 8 intervention sessions. This study concludes that SMR NFT is effective for increasing SMR during action preparation and for enhancing golf putting performance. Moreover, greater SMR activity might be an EEG signature of improved attention processing, which induces superior putting performance.
Author: Ming-Yang Cheng
Ming-Yang Cheng is a PhD student in Bielefeld University, Germany and specializes in sport psychophysiology. He grew up in Taiwan and earned his master degree there. Now, he’s conducting a line of research regarding how to fine-tune athletes’ focused attention by using electroencephalography (EEG), so called neurofeedback training. The results are very encouraging.
Practitioner: Justin Foster
Justin Foster is a Mental Performance Coach who helps teams, organizations, & individuals cultivate excellence through his teaching, coaching, and writing.
He helps coaches and athletes create a winning culture, increase the efficiency and effectiveness of practice, & perform at their best more consistently in competition.
Justin has his Master's degree in Sport and Exercise Psychology and another in Mental Health Counseling. He been in the field of sport and performance psychology for the past 10 years. He has worked with coaches and athletes ranging from nationally ranked juniors, NCAA Division 1, and NFL prospects preparing for the combine. For the past 6 years Justin has been working with members of the United States military building resilience, enhancing performance, and cultivating adaptive leaders. Justin's goal is to help his clients be at their best when it matters most, regardless of the arena - sports, work, or life.