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Simulating the ‘fear factor’ could be key to better times and distances.
The feeling of being chased can help people run faster and further than they ever thought possible. That’s the experience of thousands of participants in a race with a unique sports format – and it’s backed up by sports psychology, which suggests simulating the ‘fear factor’ could be a fun way to help runners improve.
More than 2,400 people responded to a Facebook poll asking for their experiences in the #wingsforlifeworldrun, a global charity race that has a moving finish line and only ends when the last runner has been overtaken by the Catcher Car coming up behind them.
That chase factor is a powerful motivation for many runners in the #event, which is run simultaneously in different cities all over the world and draws thousands of runners of all abilities.
Of those participants reporting better than expected results:
24.3% ran 5 kilometres (km) further than their original target. 38.1% ran 5-15 km further. 28.7% ran an extra 15-30 km. 8.9% ran more than 30 km beyond their expectations.
Those findings reflect the astonishing result of Elise Molvik, the Norwegian amateur runner who won the women’s race in Norway in 2014.
Molvik, then only 18 and a medical student, shocked everyone – and most of all herself – by clocking 54.79 km before being hauled back by the Catcher Car in Stavanger.
“I’d never run more than 30 km before so it was a huge surprise to go so far,” said Molvik. “The Catcher Car makes it really exciting and gives you an extra motivation. When you see it, you get the feeling of ‘run like you stole something’ and you give it everything you have.”
Athletes and scientists agree that adding a chase element into races and training sessions can be a great way to motivate runners.
“Research identifies fear as a tool within our evolutionary survival kit,” said leading psychologist Dr. Rhonda Cohen of Middlesex University, author of Sport Psychology: Optimising Human Performance.“Being chased creates fear, which in turn acts as a powerful motivator.
“Adding a chase simulation enables people to use the powerful motivator of fear in a safe environment. And because this is a ‘safe fear’ it can not only be motivating but also a lot of fun.”
Spain’s Abel Antón, a double world marathon champion, agrees that ‘fear factor’ can be very effective.
“It’s definitely something real,” he said. “The fear that you are being hunted makes you run faster."
“I remember in the marathon at the World Championships in Athens in 1997 when I had a very close battle with Martín Fiz. In the final sprint every time I turned my head I saw him just behind me. That made me run with all my strength.”
All entry fees for the #wingsforlifeworldrun go to spinal cord research. More than 130,000 people took part in 2016.
The 2017 race will be run on May 7 at 11UTC all around the world.
For more information about this topic, please visit: http://www.wingsforlifeworldrun.com/int/en/news/why-being-chased-boosts-performance-the-sports-psychologists-view-5666/
About Wings for Life Spinal Cord Research Foundation
Worldwide, millions of people are dependent on a wheelchair after having sustained a spinal cord injury, most often as the result of a traffic accident or a fall. Wings for Life is a not-for-profit spinal cord research foundation with the single mission to find the cure for spinal cord injury. Since 2004, Wings for Life has funded life-changing research projects and clinical trials around the globe. While the cure is still to be found, steady progress has been made. One hundred percent of the #wingsforlifeworldrun entry fees and fundraising from this global #running #event will help work towards Wings for Life’s ultimate goal. Every step taken at the #wingsforlifeworldrun and with the #wingsforlifeworldrun APP is a step in the right direction – www.wingsforlife.com
About the Wings for Life World Run
On one day each year the #wingsforlifeworldrun is held simultaneously in numerous locations and the APP across the world, all starting at the same time, whether day or night, and all with the same goal – to raise money for the Wings for Life Foundation. Under its unique format, participants run as far as they can until they are passed by a moving finish line, the “Catcher Car,” which chases runners along the course, gradually getting faster until each runner has been caught. This moving finish line allows participants of any ability to complete the run – the slower ones are passed early while the last man and woman to be caught are declared #wingsforlifeworldrun Champions. 100% of entry fees and donations go toward helping to find a cure for spinal cord injury; and in just three years since it was launched in 2014, the World Run has attracted more than 280,000 people from 193 nationalities to run in more than 38 countries across six continents. Altogether they have raised €13.8 million euros while covering more than 2.8 million kilometers.
The #wingsforlifeworldrun APP
The #wingsforlifeworldrun APP allows anyone, anywhere in the world, to join in, even if they are not able to get to one of the #event locations. By activating the APP on his or her phone, a runner can take part in the #wingsforlifeworldrun, chased by a virtual Catcher Car, at the same time as all the other Wings for Life World Runners around the globe.
The #wingsforlifeworldrun is proud to be supported by Puma and BF Goodrich.
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