Posted: March 23rd, 2023


Impact of Motivation on the Performance of Long Distance Runners


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Previous research has shown that athletes are in competition based on various motivations. The reasons for taking part in the competitions are categorized into two, which include extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. The athletes who compete out of the intrinsic motivation do so based on the internal drive to compete and succeed (Gillet et al., 2013). On the other hand, those who are extrinsically motivated will participate in the competition because of some external drives, like the rewards expected from winning the competition. Extrinsic motivation has been revealed to have a very important role to play in competitive sports (Smith, Cohen & Pickett, 2014). In athletics, the competitors who win are rewarded in a public ceremony which is one of the reasons they are driven to compete to win more rewards. Peters & Schnitzer (2015) have established that if well used, the sources of motivation can play a critical role in the way the athletes take part in the competition; they can be the source of the drive to succeed.

Based on the aspect of loneliness that characterizes training and taking part in long distance learning, Goose and Winter (2012) reveal the importance of motivation to the athletes. Without the motivation, it is likely for the athletes to lose the sense of purpose in the sports. Therefore, it is necessary to establish the behaviors of the coaches and the athletes that have an impact in providing the motivation to keep taking part in the training and competition. It is also possible for the increase in extrinsic motivation to create a decline in the intrinsic motivation, which is equally important in long-distance athletics. The role of the coach in improving the internal motivation of the athletes is a subject that has received a lot of research interest. One of the ways of achieving the goal is enhancing the coach-athlete contact, hence improving the internal drive to achieve. Nonetheless, research has also revealed that the context changes the motivation requirements for the athletes.

The focus of the past research is on the impact of the coach in providing motivation for the athletes to compete and win in the long distance athletics. Weston, Greenlees, and Thelwell (2011) disclose a difference between the athletes who have coaches in their training and those who do not have in revealing the role played by the coach as a source of both the intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Evidently, the relationship between the athlete and the coach is critical because the coach does not only provide training to develop the necessary skills, but also provide the drive for the athletes to compete and win. However, the exact way through which the relationship between the coach and the athlete work on providing the motivation is an area that needs more investigation. The impact of coaching as a source of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation for long distance athletes is the focus of the current research. Hence, the aim of the current study is to establish the role of coaching as a source of motivation and the impact of the motivation on long distance runners.


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  1. To establish the role coaching plays as a source of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation for long distance runners.
  2. To establish the impact of motivation on the performance of long distance runners

Literature Review

Cognitive Evaluation Theory

The theory has been used in understanding motivation, and the role played by motivation in determining the way a person behaves or acts. The theory indicates the performance of an action to obtain some sense of satisfaction that comes with the outcome. When looking at performance in sports, intrinsic motivation has been revealed as being very important. Based on Self-Determination Theory, it is possible to analyze and understand the factors and outcome of various types of motivation. To have a complete analysis of motivation, both intrinsic and extrinsic motivations should be understood (Lamont & Kennelly, 2012). Indeed, this is a model that plays the role of connecting personality and psychological elements of motivation. The model is used in determining interpersonal approach impacts on intrinsic motivation. The model suggests that the strategies such as feedback and rewards are external sources of motivation, but they can have an impact on internal motivation. The idea is to satisfy the needs of the athletes.

Intrinsic Motivation

In the event that one considers intrinsic motivation, the idea behind it is the participation in competitive athletes that come from internal drive. The internal factors behind motivation include the performance of an action for satisfaction or enjoyment (Peters & Schnitzer, 2015). Coaches have an important role to play in developing internal motivation in the athletes by helping them to improve on their skills. With the skills, it becomes possible for the athletes to develop some behaviors that relate to internal motivation, including having a greater focus on the tasks related to their performance. When one is internally motivated, Indreica and Truţa (2014) aver that he/she becomes less distracted and works to make fewer mistakes in their performance. The coaches are also able to provide the athletes with a high level of confidence and self-efficacy through developing their skills. The greatest impact of internal motivation is the increased in satisfaction in the performance achieved by the runner. Intrinsic motivation might come from the inside of the runner, but it can be impacted on by the behavior of the coach.

Extrinsic Motivation

Extrinsic motivation come from different external sources, including the coach, friends, family or any other sources that provides the drive to give one’s best in performance. Materials awards or emotional behaviors of others can bring a high level of motivation to perform better. Athletes getting their motivation from outside sources have a greater focus on the outcome of their performance (Gillet et al., 2013). However, it is possible for the athletes to feel like the expectations of others control their actions. There are two types of extrinsic motivation, the behaviors that the athlete can control and the behavior that the rewards tend to control. The athlete can control the tendency to engage in performance even when there are no rewards or the desire to develop more skills and perform well to excel (Kouli et al., 2010). Extrinsic rewards and developing coping skills are some of the sources of motivation that are controlled by the rewards.

Impact of Motivation on Performance

Motivation, arousal, and performance are important variables, which are related from a perspective of cause and effect. Motivation relates to the direction as well as intensity of behavior, which indicates the magnitude of arousal. The manner of behavior of an individual has an impact on motivation and thus performance. There is a major theory revealed to provide an explanation for the connection: Hull’s Drive Theory (Peachey et al., 2014). The theory suggests that arousal relates linearly to performance. The idea is that when the level of motivation/arousal is low, the result is a low level of performance. Also, when the motivation/arousal is high, then a high level of performance is expected. In the event that athletes have developed the necessary skills, through coaching, they are expected to a have high level of motivation/arousal, and hence have better chances of performing well in the long distance competitions. The level of arousal is especially more critical for such competitions because they require extensive training and preparedness. Performance in long distance athletics necessitates habit and arousal (drive) (Walczak & Tomczak, 2012). Therefore, this means that there is a need for high level of motivation to perform well in long distance competitions.


Research Design

The study will assume a qualitative research approach, which means that data will be collected in the form of narratives from the participants. The design is critical for the study because of the need to understand the experiences of the participants in their natural settings (Silverman, 2016). Use of the design will allow the understanding of the sources of motivation to the participants and how the different kinds of motivators affect their performance during the competitive sports, including long distance running. Hence, qualitative data will be collected using two main procedures: interviews and participant observations. The interviews will be done to establish the views of the subjects on motivation and performance, while the participant observations will allow the researcher to experience what the runners go through in their training and during the competitions.


The population that will be engaged in the study are athletes who specialize in long distance running. Thus, the sample for the study will be obtained from the population, identified from those who have engaged in the long distance running and still training for the competitions. The researcher will provide a letter that shows the purpose of the research and the general procedures for use in the process.

Sampling Strategy

Given the fact that the entire population cannot be effectively studied, sampling is critical. Sampling is the strategy used in obtaining the number of units to be engaged in the study of the general population (Silverman, 2016). The sample for the study will be obtained through a purposive sampling procedure, which means that the researcher will purposely identify the runners who take part in long distance competitions to be involved in the study. A total of twenty elite athletes will be used for the purpose of the study (10 men and 10 women). All the subjects will be engaged in the study. Besides the athletes, the study will engage a total of 5 coaches who are responsible for training long distance running. The coaches will also provide important information on the importance of motivation, the sources of motivation, and the impact of motivation on the performance of the athletes that they train.

Data Collection Tools

For the purpose of collecting data for the study, two methods will be used. The interviews will involve use of interview schedules with the questions that will be asked to the athletes and the questions to be answered by the coaches. All the athletes and the coaches will be engaged in the interview. The responses to the interview questions will be videotaped for later analysis. Besides the interviews, the research will involve participant observations. Towards this end, the researcher will take time observing the athletes as they train for competitions. It will be better if there will be a competition in the course of the study to observe the athletes’ performance. The data will be collected through field notes, which will be recording different aspects of the training and completion for later analysis.

Data Analysis

The data collected from the interviews and the field notes will be analyzed for the results to be obtained to inform decision making. Given the fact that all the data is qualitative in nature, it will be analyzed through the use of discourse analysis. The method will begin transcription of the data recorded through the video, filtering information to maintain the important and leave out what will not be important. This will be followed by the identification of the common themes from the data, which will form the basis for the report (Silverman, 2016). The themes will be classified together based on related aspects of the study. A report will be written based on the outcome of the data analysis.

Ethical Considerations

Various ethical considerations will be taken into account before the study is carried out. One of the issues will be obtaining of the approval from relevant bodies. In this case, the approval will be obtained from the athletes’ body to allow for collection of data in the competitions. Another consideration will be signing of the informed consent. The participants will have adequate information regarding the study and be required to sign an informed consent before taking part in the study. The consent will be signed by all the participants, including the coach, indicating their voluntary willingness to take part in the study. Confidentiality is another issue that will be taken into consideration (Silverman, 2016). The participants will not be required to provide identifying information, and the study results will not be used for any other purpose outside the revealed purpose of the study.

Expected Results

It is expected that the results of the study will match the findings of other related studies carried out in the past. Hence, it is expected that the results will reveal the important role of the coach in competitive sports. The coach does not only provide training for the athletes, but also plays an important role as a source of motivation for the athletes based on their behavior. They are the source of both intrinsic and extrinsic motivations for the athletes. It is also expected that the result will support the thesis that low motivation is a function of low performance, while a high level of motivation translate to a high level of performance. Hence, the results are expected to point to a positive impact of motivation on the performance of long distance runners.


Motivation as a factor behind positive performance of athletes is a subject that has attracted a great deal of research. Much of the research has focused on the role played by both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in the performance of the athletes. The current study will investigate the impact of motivation on the performance of long distance runners. Through qualitative research, data will be collected and analyzed to provide results of the study. The expected results will provide an indication of the positive role played by coaches in providing the motivation and the positive impact of motivation on performance of the long distance runners.

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