Ultra-obligatory running among ultramarathon runners

Res Sports Med. 2018 Apr-Jun;26(2):211-221. doi: 10.1080/15438627.2018.1431533. Epub 2018 Jan 29.


Participants in the Ultrarunners Longitudinal TRAcking (ULTRA) Study were asked to answer "yes" or "no" to the question "If you were to learn, with absolute certainty, that ultramarathon running is bad for your health, would you stop your ultramarathon training and participation?" Among the 1349 runners, 74.1% answered "no". Compared with those answering "yes", they were younger (p < 0.0001), less likely to be married (p = 0.019), had less children (p = 0.0095), had a lower health orientation (p < 0.0001) though still high, and higher personal goal achievement (p = 0.0066), psychological coping (p < 0.0001) and life meaning (p = 0.0002) scores on the Motivations of Marathoners Scales. Despite a high health orientation, most ultramarathon runners would not stop running if they learned it was bad for their health as it appears to serve their psychological and personal achievement motivations and their task orientation such that they must perceive enhanced benefits that are worth retaining at the risk of their health.

Keywords: Mental health; mood; psychological factors; running; self esteem.

MeSH terms

  • Achievement
  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Competitive Behavior*
  • Ego
  • Female
  • Goals
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation*
  • Physical Endurance
  • Running / psychology*
  • Young Adult