Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Minnesota State University - Marathon Tapering Study

Minnesota State University is conducting a study about the psychological experiences of marathoners during the taper and were looking to interview about 20 marathoners who are running the Chevron Houston Marathon. 

Guess who was contacted?


The study includes participating in a phone interview 4-10 days before the marathon and then the week after the marathon.  You get a free running look like Run!: 26.2 Stories of Blisters and Bliss by Dean Karnazes, Running within by Jerry Lynch or a similar running book.  And you will learn about yourself and help others at the same time.

I was pretty jazzed about the opportunity and after answering some questions by paper about certain emotions in regards to the impending marathon (examples below):
  • Angry
  • Nervous
  • Excited
  • Tense
  • Exhilarated
  • Apprehensive
I didn't answer Extremely to any of the emotions but my Quite A Bit's were:   Excited, Enthusiastic, Energetic, and Apprehensive.  Most of mine were split between Not At All (Who's angry before a marathon?) and Moderately (Uneasy, Anxious, Nervous)

I had the pre-marathon phone interview this evening with one of the actual researchers which was quite interesting to say the least.  We went over the items I spoke of up above, my training for the last 3 weeks, day by day... : /  (I've been keeping very good notes for this very reason).

We were supposed to actually have this phone interview last Friday, but mis-communication prevented that and actually I am glad.  I had pre-filled out some questionaires that you answered based on THAT day and up to THAT point.  Well its 4 days later and its amazing how things have changed in those few short days.

He seemed particularly interested in emotions, both negative and positive, especially during the taper.  We discussed 'taper tantrums', 'run-ger' (my new word for the hunger associated with marathon training), and 'phantom pains'.

The interview actually gave me a lot of insight into my own feelings both during the training for this marathon, how it differed to past marathon trainings (we talked a lot about how my first marathon training went when I did it on my own).  Its amazing to go back into your memories and talk about things that a lot of people would normally forget, but for me (at least), my trainings and marathons are all very vivid memories etched into my mind.

We've scheduled a post - marathon interview as well for next Tuesday.

All in all it was a cool experience and I look forward to seeing the final results once they've all been talleyed up and published.

Here is a bit more about the research and what they are hoping to accomplish: 

Current Research 

Psychological Experiences of Marathoners During the Taper

Inspired by this Runner’s World article called Taper Time we are conducting one of the only studies examining the psychological experiences of marathoners during the taper period. We know very little scientifically about runners’ experiences.

The taper is when marathoners reduce their intensity and volume of training which usually occurs between 3-4 weeks before the marathon.  

There are physiological benefits of the taper such as increased VO2 max, increased muscular strength, increased peak lactate tolerance, and increased muscle glycogen levels (Stevenson, 2011), but how to marathoner perceive the taper and what are their experience like?  For example, one online running blog (fellrnr.blogspot.com), uses the term “taper psychosis” to describe the doubt and uncertainty produced by reducing the volume and intensity of training before running a marathon.  According to Stevenson (2010), one of the main reason marathoners are reluctant to taper is a belief they will lose their hard earned training despite evidence based benefits.

Therefore, we are interviewing marathoners who are competing in the Houston and Sugarland Marathons in the month of January, 2012. 

Qualitative data will be gathered through the use of semi-structured phone interviews at one week pre-race and one week post-race to explore the psychological aspects of the taper as the runner is going through the process. 
Stay tuned for some exciting results that will guide future interventions with runners during the taper period. 


Xaarlin said...

That is really cool! I can't wait to read the results of the study Since I'm obsessed about running and analyzing every thing :)

Donald Card said...

should be interesting. i'm always interested in emotions...period!

Adrienne said...

Wow, I am SO interested in how this goes and what Dr. Kamphoff finds. I have watched some of her videos and read various articles by her.

Hopefully I can take a thing or two for the athletes down here (and myself, let's face it!).