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Cheering marathoners may help them find their second wind

Marathoners often talk about the crowds and the overall positive environment that surrounds them while they run as part of their motivation for the 26.2 miles.

That support is pretty in your face, but researchers recently found that more subtle cheers work too: A study done by scientists at the University of Kent in the UK showed that athletes exposed to positive subliminal messages performed better than ones shown negative messages.

The athletes in the study were told to bike until they were exhausted. Some were shown happy faces or words like “go” or “energy” — but never for more than .02 seconds, and always behind other images, so the athlete’s conscious wouldn’t register the message. These bikers were able to go longer and work harder overall than bikers who were shown sad faces and words depicting inaction, according to the study.

The influence of the subliminal messages shows that it is possible to change someone’s idea of how much effort they’re using during exercise, according to the researcher’s interpretation of their findings.

So the right support can help you find your second wind when you need it, like at mile 20.