Month: December 2018

(R)Evolutionary Endurance

Embodied cognition – initial thoughts

According to the concept of ’embodied cognition’, drawing from cognitive science, philosophy and psychology, our cognitive processes arise, not simply from the brain, but rather from entire physical systems (i.e. including the body, and the somatic nervous system) and importantly, from interactions with the environment. ‘Affordances’ in the environment, such as the doorknob, the ladder,…
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The environment drives our thinking…

Clark and Chalmers  (1998), in their classic work on the boundaries of the mind, speculate that the environment plays an active role in human cognition. For ultra-marathoners and others participating in endurance sports, taking place in many challenging environments, this idea  may be an important one. As humans, we often split tasks between manipulation within…
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Does running change the physiology of the brain?

According to Schulkin (2016), based on animal and human studies, the act of running impacts the physiology of the brain, as a result of: neurogenesis – the process that forms new neurons in the brain neural plasticity – the ability of the brain to adapt and change throughout the course of the individuals life memory…
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Aerobic training drives psychological changes

Early analysis of, as-yet, unpublished research, suggests aerobic training for an ultra-marathon may be linked to psychological changes. On a single case study, of an individual training for a first ultra-marathon, psychological measures of personality, motivation and mental toughness were taken before and after training, fifteen months apart. Analysis of data reflected: Increased feelings of opportunity to…
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Darwin and the sports psychologist

In Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, Block and Dewitte (2008) discuss sport from an evolutionary perspective. They suggest that participation in sport, underpinned by social learning, has arisen out of signaling attractiveness for the purposes of courtship and that human sports are cultural and therefore learned rather than innate. Using the dual-inheritance theory (for others theories…
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There’s more than one evolutionary psychologist !!

Evolutionary psychologists have at least three views on the evolution of culture: Cultural evolution and biological evolution are analogous and that culture should be studied using Darwinian methods (Blackmore 1999; Cullen 2000; Dawkins 1976) including memetics (suggesting that ideas propagate like a virus). However, it is widely accepted that as an approach, despite its prevalence…
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Self Determination Theory and meeting our physiological needs

Ryan & Deci(2017) suggest an internal locus of control leads to the belief that one can achieve a desired outcome through appropriate behaviour and being higher in internal locus of control is linked to increased motivation. The Self-determination Theory (SDT) is based on an inherent tendency towards growth, and the degree to which behaviour is self-motivated.…
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Can mental toughness change?

Crust (2008) observed that mental toughness in endurance walkers increased adaptability and flexibility in coping skills, including, maintaining objectivity, and providing perspective. Mental toughness can be developed, both as a result of training and competition, environmental influences, and through social and personal support.  It has been recognised that challenging experiences may provide development opportunities for psychological…
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Physiological changes in response to training

According to published research, an increase in training, where the heart pumps against a greater resistance, leads to increased cardiac demand, and a rise in blood pressure, heart rate, blood flow to muscle, and oxygen consumption, to meet the increased metabolic demands of exercise. Over time, aerobic training has been shown to improve the lactate…
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Motivated to run

Motivation refers to an individual’s ability to focus, and energise behaviour over time (Ryan & Deci, 2017; Tsigilis, 2005), and is widely accepted as crucial to successful performance within sport, where success can be the result of an individual’s willingness to achieve excellence through both mental and physical effort. The ability of the ultra-marathoner to…
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