During this subjective state, people get completely absorbed in an activity for their own enjoyment and pleasure, and they experience a great satisfaction
The ‘flow’ may occur when carrying out any type of activity, for example, drawing, writing, playing music or playing a sport
This research, carried out by researchers from the universities of Granada, Seville, and Pablo de Olavide (Seville), counted with the participation of 170 marathon runners of ages between 19 and 71
A research carried out by andalusian researchers has confirmed that marathon runners experience episodes of ‘flow’, a psychological state in which people get completely absorbed in an activity for their own enjoyment and pleasure, during which time flies and actions, thoughts and movements take place one after another.
The ‘flow’ may occur when carrying out any type of activity, for example, drawing, writing, playing music or playing a sport. When experiencing the ‘flow’, body and mind work together effortlessly, and people gets completely absorbed in an activity during which they lose all sense of time and experience a great satisfaction.
According to this research, carried out by researchers from the universities of Granada, Seville, and Pablo de Olavide (Seville), athletes experienced the ‘flow’ in a deeper, more intense and frequent way, when they were running in the best race they remember to have participated, as well as in the last marathon, opposed to what they feel during training or during races in general.
The ‘flow’, a complex psychological phenomenon
The aim of this work was to assess if marathon runners of any degree of dedication and performance experience those ‘flow’ episodes while playing sports, the way they perceive said episodes, as well as assessing its possible influence in athletic performance (marks obtained in the best and the last races, and the expected mark for the next one).
The state of ‘flow’ is a complex psychological phenomenon widely studied in different contexts or activities including sports, activity in which experiencing it is frequent.
In a scientific way, the ‘flow’ is defined as «a state of conscience in which you become totally absorbed by what you’re doing, to the point of excluding any thought or feeling. It’s a harmonious experience in which body and mind work together effortlessly, giving the person the feeling that something special has occurred», indicates Débora Godoy Izquierdo, researcher from the Department of Personality, Assessment and Psychological Treatment of the University of Granada.
The research counted with the voluntary participation of 170 marathon runners of ages between 19 and 71 who run in the Marathon of Seville the year 2010. The participants filled a scientific test called Brief Flow Chart before and after participating in said race.
The researchers’ goal was to assess if marathon runners of different degrees of performance experienced the ‘flow’, and the characteristics of this phenomenon for this athlete collective. Additionally, they wanted to know if ‘flow’ experiences were different in these three situations: trainings and races in general, the best race, and the last race. Moreover, the researchers wanted to explore the possible link between ‘flow’ experiences and the marks both expected and obtained by the runners in the last and the best races.
«Knowing what personal and contextual conditions lead to experience the ‘flow’ could help us design psychological interventions aimed at increasing the skills which let athletes reaching intense states of ‘flow’, which could also improve their performance and results», Débora Godoy concludes.
Flow y rendimiento en corredores de maratón
Miguel Ángel Fernández Macías, Débora Godoy-Izquierdo, José Carlos Jaenes Sánchez, María Rocío Bohórquez Gómez-Millán y Mercedes Vélez Toral
Revista de Psicología del Deporte 2015. Vol. 24, núm. 1, pp. 9-19
Images: Marathon of Seville runners.