RESEARCH: studies reviewed this week - 15 June 2020 to 21 June 2020

TRAINING: Performance Factors in a Mountain Ultramarathon

This study aimed to determine mountain ultra-marathon (MUM) performance factors in a large group of endurance mountain runners. This is an interesting study as it looked specifically at ultramarathon performance. There have been studies before that show the predictors of trail running performance for shorter races (VO2 Max and VT2), but it is useful to see a study performed with ultramarathon athletes.

The results showed that:

Performance time was correlated with Maximal aerobic speed (MAS), fraction of MAS (FMAS) sustained, knee extensors force (KEf), and KEf loss (r=− 0.51, p<0.05). Contrary to expectations, performance was neither correlated to the level or uphill energy cost of running nor to the changes of these costs post-MUM.

PRACTICAL TAKE AWAY - training maximum aerobic speed and leg strength are key to ultramarathon performance.

MOTIVATION: Improvement of 10-km Time-Trial Cycling With Motivational Self-Talk Compared With Neutral Self-Talk

Self talk is something that we all have and especially during longer endurance performances the range of different things we tell ourselves is huge. It is generally accepted that "negative cognitions that impair performance, alter pacing, and are linked to increased rating of perceived exertion (RPE)". This study examined whether motivational self-talk (M-ST) could reduce RPE and change pacing strategy, thereby enhancing performance in contrast to neutral self-talk (N-ST).

The results showed that motivational self-talk helped the riders to improve their time trial performance:

The M-ST group achieved this through a higher power output and VO2. RPE was unchanged.
The VO2 response matched the increase in power output, yet RPE was unchanged, thereby inferring a perceptual benefit through M-ST.

PRACTICAL TAKE AWAY - motivational self-talk will help performance even if the effort feels the same.

MOTIVATION: How You Say Things Matters for Endurance Performance

A good follow-up study to read after the previous study listed above, looked into whether or not "the way that a subtle grammatical difference in self-talk, using first or second person pronouns, may effect performance". This is a useful refinement and helps us to know what to say when we are engaging in self-talk.

Very similar to the previous study, this study found that:

A paired t-test revealed that second person self-talk generated significantly faster time-trial performance than first person self-talk (p = .014). This was reflected in a significantly greater power output throughout the time-trial when using second person self-talk (p = .03), despite RPE remaining similar between conditions (p = .75).

PRACTICAL TAKE AWAY - talk to yourself in the second person to enhance performance.

  • Change phrases from using "I" to "You" and make them more like instructions.
  • "I can do it" becomes "You can do it".
  • Remember that the RPE may not change, but the performance will improve.

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