Gibson, A., Longstaff, F., Aitchison, C., Thompson, K., Micklewright, D., & Ansley, L. (2010). The relationship between self-talk and perceived exertion during running trials of different intensities. Presentation 671 at the 2010 Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland; June 2-5.

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This study investigated the nature of self-talk characteristics and their relationship to perceived exertion during low- and high-intensity running. The self-talk contents of runners (N = 8 ) were collected at semi-random time points as they participated in 40 minute low (50%) and 40 minute moderately high (70%) intensity runs on a treadmill. The trials were performed one week apart. Ss were asked to place their thoughts into one of 10 themed categories, which were later grouped into broad association and dissociation thought categories. Ratings of perceived exertion were also measured during both trials.

A significant difference was found in the nature of self-talk in the different themed categories between the 50% and 70% exercise intensities. The nature of self-talk was also related to rating of perceived exertion levels, with a strong relationship between moderately high-intensity exercise and associative self-talk, and low-intensity exercise and dissociative self-talk. Non-associative self-talk occurred at rating-of-perceived-exertion levels of up to 16 on a 20-point scale.

Implication. Self-talk characteristics differ during moderately-high and low-intensity running. As exercise intensity increases, the amount of associative self-talk also increases. However, even at relatively high-intensity rating-of-perceived-exertion levels, not all self-talk is associative, which indicates that multiple streams of conscious or subconscious thought may be occurring even during participation in moderately high-intensity exercise. One is set to ponder what effect on performance, if any, would be a deliberate attempt to increase the amount of associative self-talk at high intensity levels of exercise.

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