Prior to this study, Foster had done a lot of work on pacing in competitive athletes. In this 2009 study involving nonathletes, he noted that their pacing patterns were clearly evolving in the direction of those exhibited by trained athletes. However, the former patterns never matched the latter, and so Foster concluded that it takes more than six tries to learn optimal pacing by feel. Whereas Carl Foster is interested mainly in the general patterns that people exhibit as they learn optimal pacing, another leading researcher in this area, Bertrand Baron, an exercise physiologist at Universit© de la Reunion in France, has focused his work specifically on the role of suffering tolerance in this learning process.

In a 2009 paper on the part emotions play in pacing strategies and performance in sport events, which makes a scientific case for training to increase mental toughness, Baron wrote: The pacing strategy may be defined as the process in which the total energy expenditure during exercise is regulated on a moment-to-moment basis in order to insure that the exercise bout can be completed in a minimum time and without a catastrophic biological failure. Experienced athletes develop a stable template of the power outputs they are able to sustain for different durations of exercise but it is not known how they originally develop this template or how that template changes with training and experience.

Whilst it is understood that the athlete’s physiological state makes an important contribution to this process, there has been much less interest in the contribution that the athlete’s emotional status makes. We suggest that training sessions teach the athlete to select optimal pacing strategies, by associating a level of emotion with the ability to maintain that pace for exercise of different durations.


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