Author Topic: 'Cognitive reappraisal'  (Read 765 times)

'Cognitive reappraisal'
« on: April 04, 2019, 08:45:47 am »
Interesting piece from the British Psychological Society about research on how 'a mental technique called “cognitive reappraisal” makes long-distance running feel easier' – with some parallels to the audax experience.

"When you’re in the middle of a gruelling long-distance run and the pain and fatigue is becoming overwhelming, an obvious strategy is to try to force the subjective experience out of your mind, for example by thinking nice thoughts or focusing on the environment around you. The trouble is, as the physical struggle intensifies, the distraction strategy becomes harder and harder to pull off."

Re: 'Cognitive reappraisal'
« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2019, 09:18:55 am »
That is an obvious technique and one I'm sure many people here are familiar with.

The really great challenge is how to do that and maintain pace.
Having a cycle computer really helps (you keep one eye on a target speed). If you don't have a device giving you a constant speed, then I find it very difficult to maintain pace.

For me this is one of my biggest challenges when kayaking solo (or if I'm ahead of the group or have been dropped). Nothing to give me an idea of pace. Dropping just 0.5kph is significant in a kayak race (as it would be when running), and yet very difficult to detect.
<i>Marmite slave</i>

Re: 'Cognitive reappraisal'
« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2019, 09:47:20 am »
That is an obvious technique and one I'm sure many people here are familiar with.

Given that at one point it was concluded that none of the subjects of the tests were correctly adhering to the principles of cognitive reappraisal even though they were in a controlled environment, I would question whether this technique is widespread and appropriately applied.

That said, I've only had a chance to read the linked article, I've not yet read the paper.


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Re: 'Cognitive reappraisal'
« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2019, 10:08:35 am »
I usually focus on short term goals, the next route sheet instruction, the top of a hill, or some other tangible mental tick.  Scenery does help, as does people watching, just seeing everybody go about their business. 

This doesn't work so well at the most difficult points - where it is dark and/or wet so you can't see the hills, people, or anything else.  Then the cycle computer becomes my motivation.  It's set to km but I then compute the distance to the next control / finish in both miles and km, which gives me lots of little "goals" - it's only 20km to the control, then, not too much later it will be only 11miles, etc.  The cognitive requirements of multiplying or dividing by 1.6 are sufficient to produce some distraction, until hopefully there is some moonlit scenery or a descent, or something else to distract the mind. 

Having done some long distance running, I think it is more painful that long distance cycling (unless you develop an injury), and so possibly the distraction techniques can be a little more gentle.
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Re: 'Cognitive reappraisal'
« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2019, 12:05:21 pm »
Not sure how 90 minutes on a treadmill compares to a long audax outside.  There would be a distinct lack of stimulus indoors like that compared to outdoors.   I know I can ride for hours and hours and hours outdoors but could never do the same indoors.  Given the intensities quoted, and lack of stimulus; I would say it is more like Chinese water torture.   

Re: 'Cognitive reappraisal'
« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2019, 01:03:54 pm »
Surely all tests should have a nod towards some sort of double-blind method?

It could be done with that test. All participants are given instructions through headphones by a third party. The researchers do not know which participants are given which instructions.

As the test was constructed, the researchers gave instructions to the participants, then interviewed them about 'how they felt during the test'. That is almost guaranteed to skew results.
<i>Marmite slave</i>

Re: 'Cognitive reappraisal'
« Reply #6 on: April 04, 2019, 02:26:28 pm »
An older and wiser audaxer once told me on one of my early 300s “you never ride 300km, you just ride to the next control”. This philosophy has served me very well ever since.
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Re: 'Cognitive reappraisal'
« Reply #7 on: April 04, 2019, 03:08:09 pm »
There was an interesting discussion on one of the recent Trainer Road podcasts about cognitive load and it's ability to actually impede your performance. In their examples it was to do with trying to watch TV or something that needed focus meaning that the workout felt harder - when it was removed and something that didn't need focus (like music) was substituted in, the workout became easier.
Indoor context, so different to the outside context, but interesting nonetheless - thinking might actually be bad for performance. ;)

Re: 'Cognitive reappraisal'
« Reply #8 on: April 04, 2019, 03:48:14 pm »
- thinking might actually be bad for performance. ;)

Indeed.  I'm with CET - I spend countless hours pondering vaguely task-related stuff like converting kilometres to miles (or back again), calculating estimated TOA's, recounting past rides and imagining future ones, etc.  None of that seems to affect performance negatively.

Then there's the rest of the time, when the mind wanders all over the place, often with a positive outlook.  As soon as I catch myself dwelling on anything negative I try to dismiss it from my mind and switch to other, more productive subjects.