Am I Nearly There? The Effect of Anticipated Running Distance on Perceived Exertion and Attentional Focus

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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Two studies tested the hypothesis that teleoanticipatory mechanisms regulate the perception of exertion (RPE) in the context of expected exercise duration by the adjustment of attentional focus. Study 1 involved 22 runners who participated in a short (8-mile) run and a long (10-mile) run on separate days. Pace did not differ between conditions (M = 6.3 mph). Runners reported on their attentional focus (proportion of associative to dissociative thoughts) and RPE at regular intervals. Study 2 involved 40 participants who ran twice on a treadmill at the same speed and gradient: once when they expected to run for 10 min (short condition) and once when they expected to run for 20 min (long condition). In both studies, RPE was lower throughout the long condition. In Study 1 there were more dissociative thoughts in the long condition. Study 2 showed the same trend, although the results were nonsignificant. In both studies RPE was inversely correlated with dissociative thoughts, supporting the hypothesis that runners pace themselves cognitively by manipulating their

Dept. of Psychology

Dept. of Sports & Health Studies, University of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton SO17 1BJ, U.K.

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