Metacognitive processes and attentional focus in recreational endurance runners

Noel Brick, Mark Campbell, Rachel Sheehan, Ben Fitzpatrick, Tadhg MacIntyre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
255 Downloads (Pure)


This study examined the metacognitive processes and attentional focus of recreational endurance runners. The emphasis was on understanding the metacognitive processes important to acquire, develop, and refine cognitive strategies in novice endurance exercise participants. The potential impact of metacognitive processes and cognitive strategies on longer-term endurance activity adherence was also of interest. To meet these aims, ten recreational runners were interviewed to retrospectively explore metacognitive processes and attentional focus during running. Data were analysed using deductive and inductive content analyses. The data revealed that runners engaged in a relatively limited array of metacognitive skills and may not possess a detailed knowledge of task-specific attentional strategies to regulate cognition. Few runners engaged in metacognitive planning or reviewing by themselves, for example. Cognitive strategies were developed with experience, however, and often as a consequence of unpleasant, effort-related sensory experiences. Other, more experienced runners were also influential sources for cognitive strategy acquisition. These findings are novel within an endurance activity context. Based on our interpretation of the findings, we propose that interventions to enhance metacognitive abilities and assist novice endurance participants to acquire, develop, and refine task-appropriate cognitive strategies, may be important to longer-term endurance activity adherence.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 12 Sept 2018


  • metacognition
  • cognitive strategies
  • self-regulation
  • endurance activity,
  • exercise adherence


Dive into the research topics of 'Metacognitive processes and attentional focus in recreational endurance runners'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this