Study Finds What Sets Ultra-Runners Apart From Other Athletes, And It's Not Muscles

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fairly difficult
For most of us mere mortals, tackling even a typical marathon would be a major achievement. So what kind of mindset are ultra-runners tapping into when they complete gruelling races that can go way beyond the 100 kilometre mark?
Researchers surveyed 56 elite runners taking part in the 2019 Hawaiian Ultra Running Team's Trail 100-mile (HURT100; that's 160 km) endurance race, asking a series of questions designed to measure mental toughness and self-efficacy (our innate belief in our ability to succeed).

While the results of these questionnaires didn't show any links with where the runners finished in the HURT100, they did show that ultramarathon runners seem to have a greater mental toughness than athletes in other sports, based on previous studies.

"Our interpretation is that these results taken in conjunction, suggest a threshold of mental toughness that performers require to be of the standard needed to be able to prepare for and compete in elite ultramarathon events such as the HURT100," the researchers write in their paper.

"Once this mental toughness threshold is met, other factors are likely to be more influential in determining elite level ultramarathon performance."

The researchers found that mental toughness and self-efficacy were closely linked – as you would probably expect, as they both contribute to a…
David Nield
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