Students from the Applied Sports Psychology MSc programme at St Mary’s University, Twickenham were on hand to provide mental support to more than 5,000 runners at this year’s Richmond Runfest.
The St Mary’s Psyching Team helped provide last minute mental tips to runners using practical strategies such as goal-setting, relaxation techniques and self-talk as well as handing out symbolic pieces of finish line ribbon to help them remember the mental tips to drive them on during the race.
The students were also based at challenging points of the course, the 10-mile mark for the half marathon and 22-mile mark for the full marathon, to cheer on the runners and jog alongside them if they needed mental support during the race.
Psyching teams have been introduced at different events across the UK by Senior Lecturer in Applied Sport Psychology at St Mary’s Dr Carla Meijen, whose research interest is the psychology of endurance performance, and published her research on how to run psyching teams in 2016.
Richmond Runfest is a series of running events across weekend around the London Borough of Richmond and is organised by RUNFEST, which was set up by former St Mary’s student Tom Bedford.
Carla said, “The event was a great success where, as a psyching team, we spoke to more than 100 runners before the start and cheered runners on during their run, or ran along with them to get their head back into the race if needed. The day gave students the opportunity to gain invaluable practical experience.”
Student Ollie Rossi said, "I thought it was great to engage with athletes from a vast variety of backgrounds and abilities in a fun and relaxed environment. It was also a thoroughly enjoyable and unique opportunity to practically apply what we learn within the classroom! I hope there are more opportunities of a similar nature in which I can participate, in the future."