Perceived exertion influences pacing among ultramarathon runners but post-race mood change is associated with performance expectancy

  • D Micklewright
  • E Papadopoulou
  • D Parry
  • T Hew-Butler
  • N Tam
  • T Noakes
Keywords: No Keywords


Objectives. This study investigated whether post-race mood changes among ultramarathon runners are associated with perceived exertion or the discrepancy between their actual and predicted performance times.
Methods. Eight runners completed the Puffer ultramarathon, which is a challenging 73 km mountainous race across Table Mountain National Park in South Africa. Each runner completed a series of profile of mood state questionnaires (POMS) 2 days before the race (baseline), on the morning of the race (pre-race) and immediately after the race (post-race). Ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) were measured at 13 points during the race using the Borg 6-20 scale. The accuracy of performance expectations
was measured as the difference between runners’ actual and predicted race times.
Results. Average completion time was 11:31:36±00:26:32 (h :
mm:ss), average running speed was 6.4±2.2 and average
RPE was 14.1±2.0. Increased POMS confusion was found before the race (33.30.7 v. 37.1±5.2, p=0.014; baseline v. pre-race). Post-race increases in POMS total mood disturbance (TMD) were found (168.3±20 v. 137.5±6.3, p=0.001; post race v. baseline) characterised by decreased vigour (43.3±4.0 v. 33.5±7.0, p=0.008; baseline v. post race), increased confusion (33.3±0.7 v. 38.5±4.8, p=0.006; baseline v. post race) and increased fatigue (37.8±4.8 v. 53.8±7.3, p=0.0003; baseline v. post race). A linear increase in RPE was found during the race (r=0.737, p=0.002).
The magnitude of their post-race mood change (r=-0.704, p=0.026) was not found to be associated with runners’ average RPE but was found to be negatively correlated with accuracy of the performance predictions. A time series analysis indicated that POMS TMD would have taken 142±89 min to recover. Conclusions. The results show that RPE influences the way
ultramarathon runners pace themselves more than performance expectancy but performance expectations have a greater influence on post-race mood. The magnitude of post-race mood change is associated with the extent of discrepancy between runners’ predicted and actual performance. This has implications for designing appropriate goals and pacing strategies for ultraendurance athletes.



Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2078-516X
print ISSN: 1015-5163