The influence of motivation on well-being indices in marathon runners


Negative and positive consequences of running were examined longitudinally, by assessing the motivation of marathon runners based on a Self-Determination Theory (SDT; Deci & Ryan 2000) framework. Objectives. The study aims at investi­gating the associations between basic psychological need satisfaction, well-being, vitality, and burnout during the course of a two months training period. Design. Runners replied to questionnaires over an eleven-week period when training toward a major competition. Method. The Athlete Burnout Questionnaire, the Basic Psychological Needs in Exercise Scale, the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule, Satisfaction With Life Scale, and Subjective Vitality Scale, were used to collect data. The answers were analysed by means of descriptive statistics, Pearson correlation and Multivariate Regression Analyses. Theory. SDT argue that the basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence and relatedness have to be satisfied for experiences of optimal health and most effective functioning (Deci & Ryan, 1985, 2000), and previous research has revealed associations between need satisfaction, well-being, vitality, and burnout in sport participants (e.g., Deci & Ryan, 2000; Reis, Sheldon, Gable, Roscoe, & Ryan, 2000; Sheldon, Ryan, & Reis, 1996). Results. The findings from the current study demonstrate that need satisfaction had the greatest influence on, and were positively associated with well-being. Well-being was further associated positively with vitality, and negatively with burnout. The need for autonomy and competence best predicted changes in well-being, and in addition important gender differences were unveiled. Conclusion. The current findings underline the importance of paying attention to basic psycho­logical need satisfaction and indicators of perceived vitality and burnout in runners during weeks leading to an important race. The findings also suggest gender differences – women and men marathon runners express differences in their psychological adaption. Keywords. Basic Psychological Need Satisfaction, Well-being, Burnout, Vitality

Acknowledgments: The author wants to acknowledge the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Department of Coaching and Psychology, for funding the project and providing facilities for development of academic abilities.