Cognitive Orientations of Ultramarathoners

in The Sport Psychologist
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  • 1 Kansas State University
  • | 2 UNC, Greensboro
  • | 3 University of Colorado
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The purpose of this study was to examine the sport-specific cognitions of 112 ultramarathoners competing in a 100-mile trail run. Subjects completed the Sport Orientation Questionnaire, the Trait Sport-Confidence Inventory, the Commitment to Running Scale, and a questionnaire designed by the investigators to assess goals, cognitive strategies, perceptions of “runner’s high,” and feelings that occur when subjects are unable to run. Ultramarathoners were more confident, more committed to running, slightly higher in competitiveness, lower on win orientation, and higher on goal orientation in comparison to other athletes. Ultramarathoners also rated importance of and commitment to time goals very high; importance of and commitment to place goals were rated low. No significant differences in cognitive orientations were found between finishers and nonfinishers or between males and females. Responses to open-ended questions revealed that most ultramarathoners reported predominately external thoughts during races, had feelings of psychological well-being and strength as a result of ultramarathoning, never or rarely experienced runner’s high, and experienced negative psychological states when unable to run. Overall, these results demonstrate the unique sport-specific cognitive orientations of ultramarathoners.

E.O. Acevedo and D.A. Dzewaltowski are with the Center for Exercise Research, Department of Kinesiology, Natatorium Room 8, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506. D.L. Gill is with the Department of Exercise Science and Sport Studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, NC 27412. J.M. Noble is with the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309.

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