Ultradistance Project: Study Examines the Psychological Profile of Ultrarunners

Participate in a research project investigating ultrarunner psychology.

By on November 1, 2022 | Comments

It is a frequent assumption that there are certain personality traits common to a lot of ultrarunners, but up until now there has not been a significant body of research conducted to explore this area, and to explain what it is that drives us to incredible lengths in pursuit of our goals.

Recently, three sports psychologists identified this gap and launched a survey — the Ultradistance Project — which you are invited to be a part of, into the psychological profile of ultrarunners. This deep dive into our motivation as runners and what makes us tick, as well as character traits and behaviors not obviously linked with our running, was first conducted on athletes participating in the 2022 IAU 100k World Championships in Berlin, Germany.

Haruki Okayama - 2022 IAU 100k World Champion

Japan’s Haruki Okayama (left), on his way to winning the 2022 IAU 100k World Championships, the event where this study was launched. All photos: Dinko Bažulić/Croatian ultra running team

In the interest of gathering more data to produce a more useful study, the researchers have now opened the survey up to the general ultrarunning population and it can be competed in a choice of three languages at the links below:




The researchers behind the study are Juan González Fernández (Phd), a sports psychologist at the Department of Personality, Evaluation, and Psychological Treatment at the University of Granada; Abel Nogueira López (Phd), a researcher at the University of León and postdoctoral fellow at the University of Santiago de Compostela and the University of Lausanne; and Pavao Vlahek (MD, Phd), professor at the University of the North in Croatia and a specialist in physical medicine and rehabilitation.

They hope the findings of the study can be used not only to help future runners prepare for endurance events, but that they will also find applications in everyday life when it comes to dealing with stressful situations. Vlahek said, “We believe that it is very important to know the psychological strategies that allow us to deal with these types of extreme situations that occur during competition and training for these events, as this can help us to help prepare anyone who wants to participate in an event with these characteristics, as well as to try to transfer this knowledge to the general population, and thus help them to deal with any serious situation that they may have to face.”

Take a few minutes to have your say, and keep your eyes peeled for the results to come from this fascinating study!

Floriane Hot and Caitriona Jennings - 2022 IAU 100k World Championships 1 and 3

Floriane Hot (right) and Caitriona Jennings (left), the 2022 IAU 100k World Championships first and third place women.

Sarah Brady

Sarah Brady is Managing Editor at iRunFar. She’s been working in an editorial capacity for ten years and has been a trail runner for almost as long. Aside from iRunFar, she’s worked as an editor for various educational publishers and written race previews for Apex Running, UK, and RAW Ultra, Ireland. Based in Belfast, Ireland, Sarah is an avid mountain runner and ultrarunner and competes at distances from under 10k to over 100k. When not running, she enjoys reading, socializing, and hanging out with her dog, Angie, and cat, Judy.