An experiment is taking place today using 10 runners and a track pitched into darkness
Former Olympic marathon champion Deena Kastor was among those yesterday trying out a "blackout running track" in London - designed by ASICS to experiment the effects of running in near total darkness without any distractions, noise or technology.
The facility has been labelled as "the world’s first running track to train the mind: a custom-built 150-metre course in London, England, which is cloaked in darkness with no tech, no music, no scenery, no comforts and no finish line".
Today, on Global Running Day, 10 runners including 2:09 marathoner Dewi Griffiths, British 400m record-holder Iwan Thomas and social media influencer Susie Chan are running on the track as part of an experiment.
The group will race for 5k on the track in normal conditions - lights on, music playing, crowds cheering – then race 5k again in the darkness, with white noise to muffle sound, no motivation, feedback or technology.
Devised by Professor Samuele Marcora (Director of Research at the University of Kent’s School of Sport and Exercise Sciences) and Dr Jo Corbett (Human Performance and Health Research Group at The University of Portsmouth), the experiment will be assessed by tracking data such as the performance times and heart rates.
Participants will also complete the NASA task load index, a widely used assessment tool to help assess the perceived physical and mental workload of a task, to help show how the mind can affect performance even when the physical capacity of the runners is the same.
“This is a mental challenge with a great message: the importance of a fit mind to re-evaluate what’s possible and reach your own goals in fitness as well as life. It’s not only the strongest legs that go the distance, but also the strongest mind”, said Paul Miles, Chief Marketing Officer, ASICS Corporation.
American Kastor, a former world cross-country champion, said: “For me, the track was a reminder of the simple joy that running offers; a rush of endorphins, or a quiet place to find ourselves in. Whether you’re a pro athlete or an everyday runner, mental restraints can limit us, but we all have the power to think our way to success.”