Term of Award

Spring 2012

Degree Name

Master of Science in Kinesiology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Department

Department of Health and Kinesiology

Committee Chair

Daniel R. Czech

Committee Member 1

Brandonn Harris

Committee Member 2

Bridget Melton

Abstract

The Ironman triathlon is a rapidly growing sporting event worldwide but little research has been found on the psychological processes employed by its participants. Grand' Maison (2004) found that 97% of Ironman participants interviewed responded strongly or very strongly when asked "How important do you believe that mental skills are in Ironman training and racing?" However, which of these mental skills produce the best race results is still unknown. The purpose of this study is to discover which mental skills the Ironman participant population is utilizing during training and how these skills are seen to influence. Accomplishment, or lack of accomplishment of race goals. A purposeful sample of 5 Ironman participants was interviewed and transcriptions will be analyzed utilizing qualitative analysis. 5 main mental skill themes were discovered: 1) preparation, 2) previous experience, 3) choice of focus, 4) breaking down the race and 5) camaraderie/social support. From these main themes, subthemes were discovered within two of the main themes. In preparation: 1) having a schedule/plan, 2) visualization and 3) being prepared for adversity. In choice of focus: 1) distraction/outside factors, 2) positive thoughts/motivation, 3) outcome/focus on finish, 4) "run my race"/self-focus and 5) calming/relaxation. Additionally, regardless of accomplishment of goal, all 5 participants showed themes of their mental preparation having a positive influence on their racing. A multiple skills framework developed indicating the themes exist in conjunction and equally with each other. From these themes, research may be conducted to determine the effectiveness of specific mental skills and possible interventions that can be implemented.

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