Effects of Mindfulness Practice on Performance and Factors Related to Performance in Long-Distance Running: A Systematic Review

in Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology
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  • 1 Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
  • 2 Northumbria University
  • 3 Newcastle University
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Fatigue, boredom, pain, performance anxiety, and negative thoughts are challenges characteristic of competitive running. One psychological technique that is gaining support and has been successfully implemented in sport is the practice of mindfulness. Where conventional psychological skills training interventions aim to change dysfunctional thoughts and emotions, mindfulness focuses on altering the relationship to physiological and psychological states. This could help in dealing with the demands of distance running but this has yet to be examined. This article was focused on reviewing mindfulness interventions on performance and performance-based factors in long distance running, assessing (a) mindfulness scores, (b) physiological performance-related factors, (c) psychological performance-related factors, and (d) performance outcomes. A search of relevant electronic databases yielded seven studies which met the inclusion criteria. The review provided some tentative support for the use of mindfulness interventions regarding: reducing competitive anxiety, attenuating immune responses to high-intensity running, and increasing state mindfulness. However, due to the methodological weaknesses of studies more research is required using high-quality randomized controlled trial designs.

Corbally is with Obstetrics and Gynaecology Health Psychology, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, United Kingdom. Wilkinson is with the Department of Sport, Exercise, and Rehabilitation, Northumbria University, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, United Kingdom. Fothergill is with the School of Psychology, Newcastle University, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, United Kingdom.

Fothergill (melissa.fothergill@newcastle.ac.uk) is corresponding author.
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