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The psychobiological model of pacing in endurance performance

Mohammad Amin, Akram (2014) The psychobiological model of pacing in endurance performance. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.47661) (KAR id:47661)


Pacing is the mechanism that athletes use in order to attempt to control their speed in such a manner that they can cover a specific distance or perform in a set time without failing. Several theories and models have been proposed on pacing and the regulation of pacing strategies. The aim of this thesis was to present a new prominent model of endurance performance for pacing, the Psychobiological model for pacing and analyse its single factors.

The Psychobiological model for pacing has based its theory on five factors to explain pacing and performance: i) the perception of effort, defined as “the conscious sensation of how hard, heavy and strenuous the exercise is”; ii) the potential motivation that represents the individual’s willingness to exert effort; iii) the distance- or time trial duration to cover; iv) the time/distance elapsed/remaining and; v) the previous experience/memory of perceived exertion during exercise of varying intensity and duration.

In chapter 2 we elucidated the influence of VO2max during a 30 min running time trial. Results showed that runners of different VO2max, pace themselves using different speed in order to avoid reaching maximal RPE and, thus, exhaustion, before the end of the time trial. However, no difference has been found in pacing strategy which does not depend on VO2max.

In chapter 3 we discussed the effect of knowledge of distance to cover on pacing and performance during a 5 km running time trial. Results showed that knowledge of distance to cover and learning from previous experience is an important determinant in pacing and pacing strategy. Individuals when informed of the correct knowledge of distance to cover where able to pace themselves faster and complete the performance test significantly faster than when the knowledge of distance to cover was incorrectly provided.

In chapter 4 we assessed the effect of knowledge of distance/time remaining on pacing by using a 5 km time trial to account for knowledge of

distance and a 30 min cycling time trial to account for knowledge of time remaining. Results demonstrated that time/distance feedback plays an important role for performance. The significant difference in distance/time to complete the performance test showed that participants who were aware of the remaining time/distance to be covered were able to choose a pace during the time trial compared to when they were blind to the distance/time feedback.

Finally, in chapter 5 we analysed the efficacy of motivational verbal encouragement provided at different phases during a 30 min cycling time trial. Results showed the determinant role of verbal encouragement in relation with RPE and the importance of the timing at which to provide it. Individuals who were verbally encouraged at the end of the cycling performance showed a faster pace and overall they covered a greater distance compared to when they were encouraged at the beginning of the time trial.

Overall, this thesis demonstrated that the psychobiological model of endurance performance for pacing proposed in the recent years is, indeed, a valid and effective model to explain human performance and it provides new insights in the study of pacing, compared to other existing models of pacing.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Marcora, Samuele Maria
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.47661
Additional information: The author of this thesis has asked that this thesis be made available on an open access basis under the licence displayed. 17/02/2023
Uncontrolled keywords: Closed loop exercise; Open loop exercise; Pace; Pacing
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation. Leisure
Q Science > QP Physiology (Living systems)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Natural Sciences > Sport and Exercise Sciences
Depositing User: Users 1 not found.
Date Deposited: 13 Mar 2015 01:01 UTC
Last Modified: 17 Feb 2023 14:55 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Mohammad Amin, Akram.

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