A new study thoroughly analyzed the mindset adopted by ultra-marathon runners to complete gruelling races that can exceed 100 kilometers.
A group of scientists surveyed 56 elite runners who participated in the HURT100 endurance race. This famous ultramarathon takes place in the state of Hawaii and has a length of 160 kilometers.
As part of the study, the researchers asked a series of questions designed to measure mental toughness and self-efficacy, means, the confidence we have in our own ability to succeed.
The results of these questionnaires, when compared to previous studies, showed that ultra-marathon runners appear to have greater mental resilience than athletes in other sports, such as hockey, tennis, soccer, martial arts, and athletics.
The study also found that mental toughness and self-efficacy were closely linked, unsurprisingly, as both contribute to a positive state of mind.
However, the results showed that these mental characteristics are not necessarily linked to the performance of ultra-marathon runners in the races. The researchers suggest that a certain attitude and mental strength is most likely required to participate in these types of endurance events, but physical qualities and other factors prevail when it comes to the athlete’s rating in such events.
It should be noted, however, that the size of the sample analysed was relatively small and the indicators reported by the research objects themselves are not always the most accurate. Research with larger groups, as well as questionnaires designed specifically for ultramarathon running, could provide more detailed results.
In addition to shedding light on a little-studied sport, the team behind the new study hope their work will be helpful to athletes and their coaches, as it gives them a better idea of the state of mind required to be a successful ultramarathon runner.