This study took 18 collegiate distance runners and divided them into 3 different groups. The experimental model was looking at the effects of Psychological Skills Training (PST) and running economy. PST consisted of: use of attention control(body checking-form style, etc), relaxation techniques(positive imagery and relaxtion) and self-instructional tutoring. 6 runners were told about the PST, 6 runners were not told anything and were the control and 6 were given full benefits of PST training. The study involved treadmill running for 6 minutes each cycle with a pyramid of intensity changes from 50% to 60%, 70%,80%,90% and one minute at 98% VdotO2max for a total of 27 minutes continuously. At 98% the treadmill was raised 2% so they were at 100% VdotO2max.
After 6 weeks of this protocol it was shown that the PST participants were able to run at the 98% level for 115 seconds, a 55 second improvement from the beginning of the study. The other 12 runners were not able to improve their duration performance at all. Interestingly, the PST group also showed an increase in running economy, measured by a 4% drop in oxygen demand at moderate intensities of 50-70% VdotO2max. This was actually seen as about a 15 second per mile faster after 6 weeks with no increase in perceived effort. At 80-98% the same group saw gains in economy also. None of the non-PST group improved on running economy.
So how do you run? Are you Vulcan-like or a mere mortal? What do you think about when running? ( stay tuned for that topic and others along this topic another day)! Run logically!
Jeff Bangle, DVM
Psychological skills training. Second IOC World Congress on Sports Sciences. Barcelona Spain. 1991