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Cuadernos de Psicología del Deporte

On-line version ISSN 1989-5879Print version ISSN 1578-8423


DE LA VEGA, R. et al. Does an internal focus really affect running performance?: an experimental approach to the effect of attentional focus. CPD [online]. 2016, vol.16, n.2, pp.77-86. ISSN 1989-5879.

Up to now, the effects of attentional focus on performance in long distance running have showed controversial results, especially derived from methodological issues. It has been considered that an internal attentional focus on breathing increase the runner's oxygen consumption, decreasing running economy. Nevertheless, none of these conclusion have controlled in real time if participants maintained the instructed attentional focus. We hypothesized that the controlled use of and internal vs. external attentional focus will not have an effect on running economy (oxygen consumption at a set speed) at a moderate intensity. A total of 30 (eight females) long distance runners, aged range from 18 to 50 years (M = 32,87, SD= 8,15) volunteered for the study. The experimental protocol consisted on three sessions (scheduled in three different days): (1) maximal incremental treadmill test, (2) internal attentional focus, and (3) external attentional focus. During sessions 2 and 3, participants performed a 55 min treadmill run at moderate intensity (70% VO2max. Though a mobile application and a wireless controller it was possible to control for the first time if participants effectively maintained the requested attentional focus during the sessions. Results showed that there was not effect of attentional focus (internal vs. external) on running economy. We conclude that when the workload is controlled at a moderate intensity, runners are free to choose were to focus their attention without affecting their running economy.

Keywords : cognitive strategies; oxygen consumption; attentional focus assessment perceived exertion; long distance running.

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