Academic journal article Journal of Sport Behavior

Influence of Psychogenic Factors during a Prolonged Maximal Run

Academic journal article Journal of Sport Behavior

Influence of Psychogenic Factors during a Prolonged Maximal Run

Article excerpt

Several researchers (Benson, Dryer, & Hartley, 1978; Hatfield, Spalding, Mahon, Slater, Brody, & Vaccaro, 1992; Morgan, 1985; Williams, Krahenbuhl, & Morgan, 1991) have demonstrated that psychogenic factors (e.g., hypnosis, meditation, mental strategies, mood) can influence cardiorespiratory responses to an exercise stimulus. One area that has received considerable attention in sport psychology is the use of cognitive strategies or the manipulation of attentional focus (e.g., association, dissociation) to improve performance or exercise efficiency.

An associative attentional focus concentrates one's awareness on bodily states, self-perceptions, and pacing or rhythm related to an activity. Conversely, a dissociative attentional focus or distraction diverts attention away from bodily self-awareness and self-perceptions and towards external stimuli or factors not related to an activity (e.g., words of a song, other people exercising). Studies have found conflicting results as to whether association or dissociation is a more effective strategy for improving performance (Fillingim & Fine, 1986; Goode & Roth, 1993; Morgan & Pollock, 1977; Pennebaker & Lightner, 1980; Weinberg, Jackson, & Gould, 1984). Conflicting results may be due to varying activity modes, differences in individual fitness levels, and exercise experience. Crews (1992) summarized literature examining the relationship between cognitive strategies and exercise performance and concluded that experienced performers benefit from associative strategies while less experienced performers benefit from dissociative strategies.

It is already known that elite male and female distance runners possess unique psychological characteristics (e.g., less anxiety, less depression, use of associative strategies) (Morgan, O'Connor, Sparling, & Pate; 1987; Morgan & Pollock, 1977) that may influence their [TABULAR DATA FOR TABLE 1 OMITTED] running performance. Elite and well-trained runners may also possess similar physiological attributes (e.g. aerobic capacity); thus for elite and well-trained athletes possessing similar physiological attributes, psychological factors may influence performance to a greater extent than physiological factors. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine the influence of psychological factors (i.e., thoughts, feelings, and perceptions of exertion) upon physiological responses during a prolonged maximal run at 90% [Mathematical Expression Omitted] max in well-trained runners. Physiologically, well-trained runners should be capable of completing a run of this intensity and duration (Daniels & Gilbert, 1979; Leger, Mercier, & Gauvin, 1986). Psychologic responses to a run of this intensity and duration have not yet been examined.

Methods and Procedures


Eleven male distance runners volunteered to participate in the study. Physical characteristics, running experience, and 10-km performance times of the participants are displayed in Table 1. based upon training experience, [Mathematical Expression Omitted] max, and performance times, these runners were classified as well-trained, with the physiological capacity to complete a 30-min run at 90% [Mathematical Expression Omitted] max.

An Institutional Review Board for the protection and welfare of human subjects approved the experimental protocol and participants were acquainted with all aspects of the study before consenting to participate. After written informed consent was obtained, participants completed a series of sessions. Procedures employed during each session are described in the following section.

Session 1 (Maximal Oxygen Uptake Test)

In the first session, purposes and procedures of the study were explained to the subject and written informed consent obtained. Maximal oxygen uptake was determined using a modified version of the Bransford and Howley (1977) protocol. …

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