Monthly Archives: May 2012

Together We Are Better, Stronger, Faster

This entry was written by our very own sports-rocket-scientist Mike Cannon:

I’m about to get all psychological on you.

You can blame Norman Triplett.  Go ahead.  He won’t mind, since he’s been dead since 1933.  But when he was still alive and at Indiana University back in 1898, he published the first known article on sports psychology.  It dealt with the effects of pacers and competitors on cyclists’ speed.  There have been hundreds of other studies since then, but ‘ole Norm started it.

It’s called social facilitation.  It is the psychological effect (don’t say I didn’t warn you) of group dynamics on the performance of simple, well-learned tasks–like running.  I’ll sum up years of research by Academicians who never held real jobs in just a single paragraph, which will explain why running clubs are cool, just ‘cause I’m good like that.

First, regardless of our current level of performance, we tend to perform better when competing.  Second, we tend to perform better when participating in a group setting, even when NOT competing.  Third, we are much more likely to participate regularly when part of a group.  And fourth, participating with a dynamic group varies the experience (even regular runs over the same course) enough to delay or eliminate monotony (which retards performance).

Oh, and on an interesting side note, we also tend to perform better when being watched by someone of the opposite sex.  This is just one of many reasons to ensure our group remains diverse.  But I digress.

If you want to conduct your own experiment in social facilitation, it is not too hard.  I can help you set it up.  Or you can just take my word for it.  Or ask a sports psychologist…they’re way smarter than me.

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The following blog entry was written by long-distance runner extraordinaire Keith Hosman:

Allyson and I left for Virginia Beach Friday night when she got home from work. We stayed with her childhood friend Kathy. The next morning Allyson and Kathy walked the 8K. I was going to run it slow and save myself for the marathon the next day.

It is fun the hold back and try not to run fast in a large race. I just took in everything and tried not to let race adrenaline take over. The only thing that happened was a little kid with green hair was in front of me and I tried to go around him on the left and he moved right in front of me. So I tried to get around him on the right and again he moved right in front of me. Now he started to look back at me and no matter which way I went to move around him he pulled right in front of me all the time looking back at me. I almost took him out. At last I got around him. Maybe he was not a small kid but an evil leprechaun.

When I saw the finish line, I started to pick up the pace but then put on the brakes and took it easy all the way to the end. I finished the 8K in 47:28, which is a 9:33 pace. I got to drink beer, eat beef stew, and listen to a live rock band while I watched Allyson and Kathy finish the race on live big-screen TV.

We had a big pasta dinner at Kathy’s house that night. The next morning, Kathy dropped me off near the start line. […]

By |May 11th, 2012|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Shamrock