A few months back I got talking to a jolly intelligent and interesting fellow by the name of Dr Nathan Smith of Northampton University. Now he was working with Polar Expolrer Ben Saunders at the time, on the longest human powered polar journey in history. Nathan is a Sport Psychologist and looks at how we interact with mind on ultra distance events and how this can relate back to every day life.
So I was pretty excited to see he dropped me an email earlier this week asking if we would be able to offer some assitance. Now I think understanding the mind of an ultra runner has two major benefits. One, we can learn to manage it to our advantage during races, training runs and the day job. Secondly, it may help explain why we do what we do to those who think we are a bunch of crazy people, who wear little, run silly long distances and go out in the worst weather.
Below is Nathan's words and if you are inspired or intrigued, we have included his email address at the bottom.
I for one know I'll be offering myself up!
"Do you reflect on your in-run experiences and what that might mean for performance?
If this question is of interest then the research detailed below might be for you. The purpose of the study is to better understand in-the-moment experiences of runners taking part in ultra-distance endurance events. At present, most of what we know about participating in such events is based on information collected before or after participation. Few researchers have examined what athletes experience during the run and how they maintain performance when faced with potentially stressful and challenging situations. Using a GoPro camera, in conjunction with post-run interviews, we will examine the change in motivational states, the coping strategies used, and the thoughts and feelings experienced by the runners who choose to take part. If you choose to participate, you will have the opportunity to review your video-footage and receive feedback based on the information collected. To take part, we ask runners to complete a short pre-run questionnaire, wear a GoPro camera (attached via a chest harness and supplied by the research team) and be willing to take part in a short post-run interview. Information gained from this research will provide detail on the in-run experiences of ultra-distance athletes and help understand the strategies used to persist in physically and mentally demanding conditions.