Purpose: To verify the affective feelings (AFs) and rating of perceived exertion (RPE) responses during a 10-km competitive head-to-head (HTH) running race and compare them with a time-trial (TT) running race.
Methods: Fourteen male runners completed 2 × 10-km runs (TT and HTH) on different days. Speed, RPE, and AF were measured every 400 m. For pacing analysis, races were divided into the following 4 stages: first 400 m (F400), 401-5000 m (M1), 5001-9600 m (M2), and the last 400 m (final sprint).
Results: Improvement of performance was observed (39:32 [02:41] min:s vs 40:28 [02:55] min:s; P = .03; effect size = -0.32) in HTH compared with TT. There were no differences in either pacing strategy or RPE between conditions. AFs were higher during the HTH, being different in M2 compared with TT (2.09 [1.81] vs 0.22 [2.25]; P = .02; effect size = 0.84).
Conclusions: AFs are directly influenced by the presence of opponents during an HTH race, and a more positive AF could be involved in the dissociation between RPE and running speed and, consequently, the overall race performance.
Keywords: behavior; decision making; endurance; performance; strategy.