Psychological Predictors of Performance in a 161 km Ultramarathon Run

Dolores A. Christensen, Britton W. Brewer and Jasmin C. Hutchinson

Springfield College, Springfield, USA

Ultramarathon running has become a burgeoning area of interest for researchers. Much has been explored regarding the physical and physiological components of running ultramarathons, but the psychological aspects of ultramarathon running have been less thoroughly investigated. The purpose of this study was to examine the extent to which selected demographic, training, and psychological variables predicted running performance in a 161 km ultramarathon event. Runners (N = 189) in the 2014 Western States Endurance Run completed questionnaires assessing demographic and training factors, as well as four psychological constructs: mental toughness, mindfulness, pain catastrophizing, and attentional focus. Results indicated that when statistically controlling for the demographic and training factors, mental toughness was positively associated with running performance. Implications for this finding are discussed within the context of the task demands of ultramarathon running and future directions for theory, research, and practice are suggested.

Keywords: Attention, Endurance, Mental toughness, Mindfulness, Pain catastrophizing