Can smiling help you run faster?

By October 27, 2016Run
Swiftwick Athlete Peter Makismow

Sometimes it really is mind over matter. Especially in those critical moments of a race. We’ve all been there, it’s the last mile of the race. Your body is hurting, and your face shows it. But by frowning, you are actually expending even more energy!

Competitor magazine says:

You can tell how hard any runner is working simply by looking at his or her face. The greater the effort, the more agonized the facial expression becomes. In the last part of any race, runners typically wear facial expressions that, outside of the running context, are seen on them only when they are in pain. The last-mile-of-a-marathon look is also the post-toe-stub look.

Marcora is an expert on perception of effort, which is basically the phenomenon of how hard exercise feels. He believes that exercise performance is regulated by perception of effort and that it is the sole cause of fatigue. In other words, he believes we bonk because we give up, and we give up because we can’t stand the suffering any longer.

So, while there is no proof smiling can help you push through with better results, smiling sure does help put you in a state of mind that may be able to help it at least appear you’re not working as hard.