ASICS have revealed the results of their Blackout Track experiment, and they provide an illuminating new insight into sports psychology.

In the controlled environment at their bespoke Blackout Track, and using evidence from 10 athletes from around the world, it was proven that endurance running performance can be significantly affected by changing psychological conditions.

Conditions in the experiment were made tougher to assess whether running capabilities remained the same. Runners partook in the exercise without any performance indicators, no clear finish line, or positive encouragement such as cheering; and experienced athletes saw a decline in their 5k times by an average of 60 seconds.

The 4.5% difference in average 5K performance was bigger than ASICS anticipated; it's the difference between winning a medal or not in competitive endurance sports. In some cases, the difference was as much as two minutes, (a 5% difference would equate to running 9 minutes faster or slower for a 3-hour marathon runner.) 

Sports scientist Professor Samuele Marcora, Director of Research at the University of Kent’s School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, who helped to devise the experiment, said “We wanted to show the critical role the mind plays in athletic performance. The difference we saw between the experiment conditions in just one day is similar to the difference you would see after a four-week high-intensity training programme, so the mind shouldn’t be underestimated.” 

The scientific experiment was designed with ASICS and top scientists and coaches, who proved that harmonizing mind and body is crucial to enable optimal performance.

To find out more, head to Asics.