Why does psychology matter?

Physical endurance training and ultra-marathon competition require considerable commitment and provide a challenge to both human mental and physical capacities.  Ultra-marathons are recognised as extremely difficult events to complete, and successful endurance runners typically undergo several years of dedicated training, and personal sacrifice, to enhance the physiological characteristics necessary to success in distance running events. Key psychological attributes, along with mental strategies, including the ability to handle mental fatigue, negative thinking, and cognitive coping skills are likely to benefit the ultra-marathoner and increase the potential for success in long-distance events. It is widely accepted that mental toughness, in particular, facilitates the use of coping mechanisms, reduces the damaging effects of contextual stressors, whilst ensuring goal-directed behaviour and underpins high performance. Such psychological support mechanisms may be paramount to completing long-term training programmes, involving a series of aerobic sessions of progressively increasing training load, accompanied by suitable nutrition, recovery, and the avoidance of injury, required to maximise the likelihood of successful ultra-marathon completion.

References at bottom of page

Barnes, K. R., & Kilding, A. E. (2014). Strategies to Improve Running Economy. Sports Medicine, 45(1), 37-56. 

Holt, N. L., Lee, H., Kim, Y., & Klein, K. (2014). Exploring Experiences of Running an Ultramarathon. The Sport Psychologist, 28(1), 22-35. 

Gatterer, H., Schenk, K., Wille, M., Raschner, C., Faulhaber, M., Ferrari, M., & Burtscher, M. (2013). Race Performance and Exercise Intensity of Male Amateur Mountain Runners During a Multistage Mountain Marathon Competition Are Not Dependent on Muscle Strength Loss or Cardiorespiratory Fitness. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 27(8), 2149-2156. 

Gucciardi, D. F., Peeling, P., Ducker, K. J., & Dawson, B. (2016). When the going gets tough: Mental toughness and its relationship with behavioural perseverance. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport,19 (1), 81-6.