Marjon News

Marjon ‘positive psyching’ team helps runners enjoy 10k race

Released: 01.11.17

Marjon’s first ever cohort of MSc Sport & Exercise Psychology students have been using ‘positive psyching’ techniques to help runners in the Britain’s Ocean City 10k run increase their enjoyment of the race and reach the finishing line.

The ‘positive psyching’ team, led by Marjon Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Psychology, Dr Alister McCormick, used techniques based on his research into the effects of psychological interventions on the performance of endurance athletes. This showed that goal setting, imagery and self-talk can improve performance.

Dr McCormick explains, “The MSc Sport and Exercise Psychology course is all about practical application of the subject and making it accessible to peoples’ lives.

“We set out to apply some of the lessons learnt in previous research to help people taking part in the race in a non-competitive way, including those running for fun, fitness or to raise money for charity.”

Eighteen runners attended a 1.5 hour pre-race workshop where they were given essential ‘psyching’ tips based around ‘controlling the controllable’.

These included positive self-talk; setting flexible goals to avoid disappointment whatever the outcome; creating a checklist for race day preparation including where to park and what time to arrive in order to minimise anxiety; and setting the right pace using a self-checking scale to assess how your body is feeling. The psyching team included a Marjon Sport and Exercise Science graduate, who gave runners ‘evidence based’ practical tips on nutrition and hydration.

The team were on hand on race day, cheering on runners with a variety of motivational and positive messages on signs to influence their thoughts and emotions which in turn stimulated greater resilience and exertion, whilst still maintaining a positive experience.

Dr McCormick adds, “We’re delighted by the initial feedback from those who attended the workshop. We are now gathering further information to evaluate the interventions we used and these may form a potential research model for MSc Sports and Exercise Psychology students in the future.”  

Any running, cycling or triathlon clubs who would be interested in finding out more about the workshop and techniques used should contact

Find out more about the new MSc Sports and Exercise Psychology course

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