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Self-regulatory processes in goal striving during excellent distance-running performances: A qualitative study

Jackman, P, Whitehead, A, Swann, C and Brick, NE (2023) Self-regulatory processes in goal striving during excellent distance-running performances: A qualitative study. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 70. ISSN 1469-0292

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Objective: Goal setting can improve endurance performance, yet how endurance performers maintain goal striving and bring it to a successful close has received limited attention. In this study, we investigated the self-regulatory processes employed by long-distance runners during goal striving in excellent competitive performances. Method: Through in-depth, event-focused interviews, we explored 21 long-distance runners’ experiences of goal striving in excellent competitive performances (M = 77.43 hours post-race). Furthermore, we recruited 10 additional participants with relevant experiences (runner n = 7, coach n = 2; sport psychologist n = 1) for external member-reflection interviews. Findings: Through our matrix analysis, we interpreted that by contrasting their current and future goal status periodically throughout their excellent performances, using a process called mental contrasting with implementation intentions (MCII), this helped the runners to make decisions about whether to persist with a goal, or disengage from a goal and reengage with an alternative. Furthermore, our findings depict how these goal decisions unfolded when runners perceived they were behind, equalling, or exceeding their goal(s). We also illustrate how goal revision was used as an adaptive process to maximise performance, and to avert or manage action crises. Conclusions: Our findings extend theoretical understandings of goal striving and the self-regulatory processes endurance performers employ to attain and/or adapt their goals. Psychological support provided for athletes should go beyond simply setting goals, but also include training on mental frameworks such as MCII to manage goal-striving challenges and decisional conflict encountered during performances.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 11 Medical and Health Sciences; 13 Education; 17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences; Sport Sciences
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC1200 Sports Medicine
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure > GV561 Sports
Divisions: Sport & Exercise Sciences
Publisher: Elsevier
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 30 Aug 2023 14:54
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2024 14:45
DOI or ID number: 10.1016/j.psychsport.2023.102516
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/20995
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