Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Far Reaches of the Mind: Psychological Experiences That Contribute to Willpower and Perseverance of Runners During a 100-Mile Ultramarathon
by Watkins, Rachel, Psy.D., Alliant International University, 2017, 183; 10286341
Abstract (Summary)

The current study represents qualitative research exploring the role that the mind plays in an individual’s willpower and perseverance during a 100-mile ultramarathon. Through in vivo data collection and follow-up interviews, this study sought to understand the shifting mindsets and mental frameworks which help ultrarunners overcome the variety of challenges and stressors encountered during an ultramarathon. Six ultrarunners were asked to carry a digital recording device during their 100-mile ultramarathon and answer a sequence of questions at regular intervals meant to assess what was happening in their minds, how this was related to willpower, and how it was influencing their ability to persevere. Follow-up interviews were conducted to gather clarification and debrief.

A total of 6 participants provided data for this study in the form of digital recordings made during the course of a 100-mile ultramarathon and informal post-race interviews. Thematic analysis of the digital recording transcripts revealed 16 themes organized into four encompassing categories. Results indicated that the role of the mind in perseverance and willpower is multi-faceted, with cognitive, attitudinal, social, and affective components. The results from this study hold valuable clinical implications as they increase insight into how humans endure a range of stressors, both physical and psychological. Furthermore, they contribute a new consideration of perseverance and willpower in the context of endurance sports to the literature and the field of sport psychology. Despite various methodological limitations, the results of this study are notable and shed an important light on the under-researched and growing sport of ultrarunning.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Petti, Patrick
Commitee: Smith, Stefanie, Wyatt, Randall
School: Alliant International University
Department: Psychology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 78/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Clinical psychology
Keywords: Perseverance, Running, Ultramarathon, Ultrarunning, Willpower
Publication Number: 10286341
ISBN: 9781369817249
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