Tag Archive for 'maratona'

Marathoners’ mental strategies

For sports psychologists, the study of the cognitive strategies of long-distance runners is particularly interesting, as these athletes undergo extremely high psychophysical stress during which they must perform at their best.

The first systematic study conducted on the cognitive strategies of long-distance runners was carried out by Morgan and Pollock [1977], with a sample consisting of world-class athletes and lower-level middle-distance runners. To classify the strategies used during running, the authors used the terms association and dissociation.

In the first condition, athletes focus on sensations coming from their bodies and are aware of the fundamental physical factors for that type of performance. In the dissociation strategy, on the other hand, the athlete’s thoughts are concentrated on anything other than bodily sensations.

During competition, the cognitive strategies of the elite group differ from those of the other group based on these two characteristics. In fact, to counteract painful stimuli, lower-level athletes use the dissociative strategy, while elite athletes use the associative one and consequently modulate their pace.

Moreover, experienced marathon runners do not attribute much importance to the so-called pain zone, for at least two reasons that differentiate them from less experienced runners. The first refers to their physiological superiority, which allows them to run at their limit with less difficulty. The second involves the fact that they avoid this pain zone because they can self-regulate throughout the entire race based on their internal sensations.

Specifically, in the associative phase, the runner, in an effort to maximize performance and minimize discomfort or painful sensations, continuously focuses on physical sensations such as breathing, temperature, the heaviness of calves and thighs, and abdominal sensations. This cognitive mode is quite demanding for athletes, as it requires the ability to concentrate for extended periods. The dissociative phase occurs when the athlete voluntarily distracts themselves from the sensory feedback continuously received from the body.

In summary:

Association and dissociation should be considered as the two extreme poles of a continuum and not interpreted in dichotomous terms, especially when used in long-distance races.

  • The use of associative strategies is more strongly correlated with fast long-distance performances than the use of dissociative strategies.
  • In races, runners prefer to use associative strategies (focusing on monitoring body processes and controlling race strategy).
  • In training, however, they tend to use dissociative strategies more, although both strategies are still used in both contexts.
  • Dissociation is inversely correlated with physiological awareness and feelings derived from the perception of exertion intensity, as highlighted in laboratory studies.
  • Dissociation does not increase the likelihood of injury and can reduce the fatigue and monotony of running and recreational races.
  • Association can allow the athlete to continue competing even in the presence of sensory pain.
  • Dissociation should be used as a training technique by those looking to increase their exercise adherence, as it allows for a better and more enjoyable perception of the end of the exercise.
  • As training load increases, there is a shift from dissociative strategies to associative strategies to increase the athlete’s concentration on the task at hand.
  • When using mindful focus on oneself to enhance running efficiency, attention should be directed toward bodily sensations rather than automatic responses such as breathing and running movements.

Terry Fox, the life-changing stories

Terry Fox, the life-changing stories, was a sports enthusiast from a young age. Terry dreamed of becoming a physical education teacher. On November 12, 1976, he was involved in a car accident, resulting in a trauma to his right knee. In 1977, still experiencing pain in his knee, he sought medical attention and was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, which led to the amputation of his leg, replaced by a prosthesis.

Terry didn’t let this setback bring him down, and in 1980, three years after the amputation, he embarked on a venture that would forever be etched in the history of Canada and the world. On April 12, 1980, he set out from the Atlantic coast of Canada to reach the Pacific Ocean coast on foot, with the goal of collecting one dollar from every Canadian citizen to be donated to the fight against cancer. Like in a traditional marathon, he ran 42 kilometers every day, crossing various provinces such as Quebec and Ontario.

However, Terry couldn’t complete the endeavor known as the “Marathon of Hope” because, after 143 days, on September 1, 1980, his health deteriorated. He was diagnosed with multiple lung metastases, and a few months later, he fell into a coma and passed away on June 28, 1981, just one month shy of his 23rd birthday.

The “Terry Fox Run” is a charity run held in his honor worldwide to this day, and over the years, the Terry Fox Foundation has raised over 750 million dollars for cancer research.

“Today I got up at 4 in the morning. As usual, it was tough. If I were to die right now, I would die happy because I’m doing what I love. How many people can say the same? I stepped outside, did fifteen push-ups in the middle of the road, and started running. I want to set an example that will never be forgotten.” – Terry Fox

(Fonte: @JamesLucasIT )

I'm Not a Quitter. "nobody is ever going to call me a quitter." - Quote from Terry Fox. Terry Fox Run on September 18, 2022

Sifan Hassan won the London marathon

Sifan Hassan, an Olympic champion in Tokyo over the 5,000 and 10,000 meters, won the London Marathon in a sprint in 2h18’33″ on her debut over the distance. The Muslim athlete trained during the period of Ramadan and, therefore, added an additional difficulty to the already strenuous preparation for a marathon in which she came to run 200km weekly.

She made this choice to challenge herself further; one does not undergo this kind of training for money or fame. Her coach would have liked her to make it to the marathon perhaps in two years, but she made this decision despite the fact that until the time of the start she doubted whether she would complete it.

She had stated, “My goal is to meet the marathon and get to know each other better.” Similar situation to that of Mo Farah in 2014 in the same marathon. He had already won three world titles and two Olympic golds when he debuted with an 8th place finish in London, then returned to the track and amassed five more world titles before switching to the marathon full-time in 2018.

His coach, Tim Rowberry, stated. “The most important change in training has been that Sifan has learned to run slowly. She is used to doing everything at a high intensity. When she started training with those guys, Olympians Bashir Abdiand Abdi Nageeye, they were always telling her, ‘Slow down, slow down! You have to do many kilometers, if you do too much you will kill yourself.”

Also in Hassan, as with many other female champions, determination, courage and humility emerge.

The marathon meaning

Today the Rome Marathon is being run. At events like these many people ask me what a marathon is and what pleasure there is in running all those miles.

This thought by Mauro Covacich, writer and runner, is one possible explanation.

“The marathon is a kind of permanent belief: it is enough to have run it just once to feel like a marathon runner for life. Kind of like psychoanalysis. Yes, I consider it a form of martial art, an inner discipline. It inherently is. For the training it requires, for the way it leads you to perceive the environment, for the effort it demands of your body. The marathon runner is a samurai with slippers instead of a sword: he is extremely strict towards himself, he never forgives himself, he is constantly fighting his own limits… Those who think of the marathon as a sporting choice are wrong; it is a maximally aesthetic discipline. It is really a worldview: it is not just those forty-two kilometers to run in the shortest possible time, it is the idea of enduring, of going beyond…”
(Mauro Covacich)

The sport system do not support lifelong participation

The new season of major marathons in European capitals and around the world begins. This occasion brings to the forefront a little-addressed issue in scientific research and in the world of sports, which refers to the training of adults (the over35s) and in particular the masters athletes who build the largest group of marathon entrants and encapsulate every age group of adulthood up to and beyond the over80s.

It is the already large age group of sports practitioners enclosed in a period that covers more than 50 years. There are well-established age-related beliefs that can be summarized in the following concept: adults do not improve and are limited to social and fitness activities in their free time. It has been found that this age belief can lead coaches to believe that it is not necessary to coach master athletes. Do we still demand quality coaching if young athletes do not become Olympians or professionals? Yes, of course. Therefore, quality coaching should be an intrinsic feature of master sports and older adult sports.

Recently Bettina Callary, Editor-in-Chief of the International Sport Coaching Journal wrote about this issue and which I have summarized in the following points:

  1. Much of the research in sport is geared towards high performance or youth sport participation.
  2. The LTD uses a rectangular diagram to outline a framework for developmental pathways in sport and physical activity. It depicts a large section devoted to Active for Life, as an alternative to the Podium Pathway towards high performance. This is excellent, as it includes the large number of people (including adults and older adults) who are not on the trajectory toward podium performances at the highest level of sport yet continue to engage in sport and physical activity.
  3. However, while the LTD acknowledges aging adults as an underserviced and under-supported group within the sport and physical activity ecosystem, the information in the framework itself is mostly associated with children, youth, and young adults.
  4. Adult development in sport is often focused on becoming coaches or officials, joining the board of directors for the youth sport team or club, fundraising and volunteering.
  5. While there are recreational adult sports that most often do not have coaches, in Masters sport the coaches can play important roles.
  6. Masters sport is defined as sport events, leagues, and competitions for adults typically over 35 years of age (although this differs based on the sport and can be as young as 18 years old). Within this cohort of more serious-minded adult athletes, effective coaches play an important role in meeting athletes’ psychosocial needs and validating their decision to pursue sport.


Enjoy the journey and not the result

We live in the culture of instant gratification. When we want something, we want it immediately. This has resulted in a significant lowering of our frustration tolerance level. Often the young people I meet get angry with themselves if they don’t improve right away and when they make mistakes, they feel incapable because they haven’t learned yet.

In our culture we place too much importance on the outcome and much less on the path to get there. We should learn to stop this race to the result. Instead, let us learn to love the journey in which we are immersed. Athletes often act as if an elementary school child wants to write a paper like a high school kid. It’s a nice dream, but let’s not mistake it for reality.

The same goes for people my age, over60, who think they train as if they were 30 or 40 years old. After a series of physical problems that prevented me from training for three years, and after resuming for about six months, I realized the need to reset my thinking and start again with a mindset appropriate to the years I am living and find pleasure in this project. So, it is not just a matter of following a proper training program for a person over60 who has been stationary for three years, but of adapting the mindset to this real condition and gaining satisfaction from the flow of the days engaged in this physical, athletic and mental training. Never think “I used to do it this way, why can’t I do it?” That would be the road to failure. The positive and optimistic idea is exactly the opposite: “I am doing what I enjoy and what makes me feel good.” This mental approach combined with practice results in improvement over time and allows me to meet the goals I set out to achieve.

In this way, I focus on the daily practice and listen to myself to prepare for what I have decided to do. The pleasure is in feeling the changes that take place, mental and physical, that occur as a result of training. In fact, gradually not only the body but also the mind is shaped by the type of activity to be done. For example, in the beginning running was very tiring, you go slow and feel heavy, so I picked up like any beginner by alternating running and walking for 5/6 km. On the other hand, I did not rely on memories of me being a marathon runner, having run more than 50, or of someone who had run the 100 km Passatore. This second approach would lead me to injury and convince me that running was no longer suitable for me. With this mental approach and a proper variety of workouts in a few months I came to run 40k a week in three sessions. So, one rule over all I learned: train with an intensity that allows you to train the next day as well. Currently I train 5 days a week, once only physical training, once cycling and three running. Always 30 minutes of free body before each workout. I enjoy it. Where I will get to doesn’t matter to me; I like to find out week by week.

Why to run the New York City marathon

The New York City Marathon is being run next Sunday, and after the registration restrictions of the pandemic years, the race director hopes this year to return to having 50,000 runners at the finish line. Forty percent of participants again come from abroad, which determines that the marathon is also a big economic event for the city, whereas last year the borders were closed and foreign athletes could not participate so there were only 30,000 participants.

Last year, a nonbinary category for runners had been introduced. This year, the top five finishers in this category will receive a cash prize. New York is the first of the six World Marathon Majors to add cash prizes for nonbinary runners. Other changes include having equalized the wheelchair race record prize to that of professional runners by increasing it from $7,500 to $50,000. In addition, there have been facilities regarding the nursery at the start at three points along the course and at the finish for women who need to breastfeed. These are changes that make the marathon increasingly inclusive.

The philosophy of the race is to represent a great day of sharing between runners and spectators. Each runner is suggested to have his or her name written on the jersey so that he or she can be nominated and encouraged by the spectators. However there will be tens of thousands of spectators along the entire route, with the exception of the Verrazano Bridge.

Much has been written about the reasons that motivate a person to run a marathon, and everyone has tried to provide their own reasons. It must be said that human beings are predisposed to long-distance running, which thousands of years ago was used for hunting. Now it is an activity that improves the perception of self-control through a challenge with oneself. It makes us better as it requires the tenacity to pursue a long-term goal through the performance of a weekly program. It also involves a change and improvement in lifestyle that should result in better self-care in relation to taking care of one’s body, sleep and nutrition. It is also an activity that for many is carried out in group in which one shares exertions, challenges and perhaps even moods due to injuries. Running is democratic; anyone can run and it can be done in any environment and weather.

For each person, these reasons may have different weights and some are more significant than others. In essence, a sense of pleasure prevails even if one started following the doctor’s advice or because a friend persuaded us to try it, those who overcome this initial phase and embark on a training path find at this point an individual gratification that sustains them over time and becomes a habit without which it becomes difficult to carry out the other commitments of daily life.

Personally, I run because I like to be outdoors, possibly in nature, to challenge myself, to organize my thoughts and meditate, to feel and know my body in the different ages I have experienced and am going through, to wait for fatigue to come and try to overcome it, for the memory of friends and experiences made in common and the solidarity that exists among those who run. So, happy running!

Fatigue psychology

Questo weekend al master di psicologia dello sport parleremo della fatica negli sport di resistenza e non solo in quelli ma che nel calcio. Parleremo di cosa pensano campioni come Paula Radcliffe durante la maratona e di come Martina Valmassoi affronta la fatica negli ultratrail.




























Eliud Kipchoge: when dreams become records

At 38, Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge took nearly a minute off his previous marathon world record with a time of 2h01m09s. He has won 15 of the 17 marathons he has run and two gold medals at the Rio and Tokyo Olympics. Married with children, the same coach all his life, if I had to use a few words to talk about him, I would say he is an athlete who is enough.

Kipchoge is truly one with what he does. He is the one who runs 230km a week, who washes his running uniform by hand in a basin, who lives in a spartan room in a sports center in Kenya, who eats traditional foods from his homeland, who reads Confucius rather than Paul Coelho, who is quiet and runs by following his inner clock that gives him the pace, who writes down in a notebook the sensations of running and how his body and mind work.

He is totally involved in what he does, even though he is a world star. Sponsors and success can easily distract anyone, pulling them away from continuing to do what it takes to achieve their dreams. These habits of his keep him connected to the pleasure of struggling and finding ways to be stronger than the struggle itself. They are the link to the heart of his motivation, which is to take pleasure in what he does and to accept for this end, to live a life in which fatigue is an ongoing and decisive experience.

The one who can make sense of personal growth out of this link between pleasure and fatigue wins.

Paris 2024’s mass participation marathon

It’s 1000 days to go until the world’s greatest athletes come together once more, all for the love of sports, across the picturesque French capital.

 From the bid phase, Paris 2024 promised to revolutionise the experience of the Olympic and Paralympic  Games for the general public. Many people shared a dream that is now a reality: at the Paris 2024’s Mass  Participation Marathon, amateur athletes will be able to follow the same route as the Olympic marathon  event, enabling as many as possible to run in the footsteps of outstanding athletes. This will be an  extraordinary experience, on a unique and original route, celebrating the history and of Paris and its region.

 Since the bidding phase, Paris 2024 has been determined to provide people in France with an outstanding  Games experience. Organising mass participation events with a marathon and a 10km race during the Games will be a first in Olympic history. Just like the Olympic Games, the Paris 2024’s Mass Participation Marathon will include 50% of men and 50% of women.