Runners who socialize before a parkrun tend to perform better, study finds


Runners who socialize with other participants before a race tend to perform better, a new study suggests.

Researchers from the University of Limerick and the University of Oxford examined participants in the parkrun, a free weekly community run that takes place in many towns and villages across Ireland.

The research team found that the social element of the 5K event has significant benefits, including improving running experiences and performance.

The study, published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal PLOS ONE, involved a longitudinal study of 143 parkrun participants.

Dr Pádraig MacCarron, postdoctoral researcher at the Center for Social Issues Research and Mathematics Applications Consortium for Science and Industry at UL, said the team was particularly interested in how the socially supportive and rewarding environment of parkrun affects exercise experiences and performance of participants. .

“For several weeks, study participants received a link to the survey immediately after completing a parkrun,” he said.

“The survey asked participants about the support they felt from the parkrun community, their sociability before the event, and whether they had chatted with friends beforehand.

Dr MacCarron said participants were also asked about their running experiences: how much fun they had running, how difficult it was and how energized they felt.

“We then linked those survey responses to participant travel times, which are posted on the parkrun website,” he added.

Social experiences

Analyzes of survey responses revealed that parkrunners’ social experiences were strongly associated with their exercise experiences and performance times.

Being social before the event, such as chatting with friends, was associated with greater enjoyment and increased energy levels during the 5K run.

Additionally, the study found that increases in energy levels linked to feelings of social support and inclusion resulted in faster 5km run times – between three and 12 seconds faster, on average – with no increase. corresponding to the perceived effort.

Lead author of the study, Dr Arran Davis of the Social Body Lab at the University of Oxford’s Institute for the Humanities, said humans are a social species.

“Feelings of support and inclusion at parkrun can act as an unconscious safety signal, indicating that increased physical exits are safe,” he said.

“It changes the way the body regulates itself during exercise, thereby affecting perceived energy and fatigue levels and, ultimately, 5 km running speeds.”

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