Athletic Insight - The Online Journal of Sport Psychology

Mental Toughness and Coping in an Ultra-endurance Event

Lee Crust
University of Hull

Mark Nesti
Liverpool John Moores University

&

Katherine Bond
University of Chichester

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ABSTRACT

This study investigated the relationship between mental toughness and coping in an ultra-endurance (100km walk/run) event. A two-stage procedure was adopted: First, ‘in situ’ data was collected during the early, middle and later stages of the Trailwalker UK event, with 12 participants asked to report how they were coping, and the personal attributes that were enabling them to persist. The second stage consisted of a follow-up focus group, which was attended by three men and four women who successfully completed the event. Participants were questioned on the demands of the event and how they coped with these demands. Participants were also asked to describe the attributes of the ideal mentally tough Trailwalker. Data was transcribed, and themes were identified using an inductive content analysis and agreed with the participants. Results suggest that successful participants were stubborn / bloody-minded (tenacious), totally committed to their goals, objective, had a sense of humour, thrived on challenges, were able to maintain perspective in adversity and possessed humility. The attributes identified as key components of mental toughness in the present study appear relatively consistent with previous mental toughness research using elite athletes. Participants generally possessed a large variety of coping strategies that were used interchangeably during the event. Further research is encouraged to compare differences between elite and non-elite athletes in relation to mental toughness.

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ISSN 1536-0431