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A One-Year Study of Endurance Runners: Training, Laboratory and Field Tests

Section: Original Investigation

Authors: Andy Galbraith1, James Hopker1, Marco Cardinale2,3,4, Brian Cunniffe3 and Louis Passfield1

Affiliations: 1Endurance Research Group, School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Kent, Chatham Maritime, United Kingdom. 2Aspire Academy, Doha, Qatar. 3 Department of Computer Science, University College London, London, United Kingdom. 4 School of Medical Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, Scotland.

Acceptance Date: March 18, 2014

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1123/ijspp.2013-0508

This longitudinal study examined the training and concomitant changes in laboratory and field-test performance of highly trained endurance runners. Methods: Fourteen highly trained male endurance runners (mean ± SD: VO2max 69.8 ± 6.3mL·kg-1·min-1) completed this 1-year training study commencing in April. During the study the runners undertook 5 laboratory tests of VO2max, lactate threshold (LT) and running economy, and 9 field tests to determine critical speed (CS) and the modelled maximum distance performed above CS (D’). The data for different periods of the year were compared using repeated measures ANOVA. The influence of training on laboratory and field test changes was analysed by multiple regression. Results: Total training distance varied during the year, and was lower in May-July (333km [SD: ± 206km], P=0.01) and July-August (339km [SD: ± 206km], P=0.02) than in the subsequent January-February period (474km [SD: ± 188km]). VO2max increased from the April baseline (4.7L·min-1 [SD: ± 0.4L·min-1]) in October and January periods (5.0L·min-1 [SD: ± 0.4L·min-1], P<0.01). Other laboratory measures did not change. Runners’ CS was lowest in August (4.90m·s-1 [SD: ± 0.32m·s-1]) and highest in February (4.99m·s-1 [SD: ± 0.30m·s-1], P=0.02). Total training distance and the percentage of training time spent above LT velocity explained 33% of the variation in CS. Conclusion: Highly trained endurance runners achieve small but significant changes in VO2max and CS in a year. Increases in training distance and time above LT velocity were related to increases in CS.
Keywords: VO2max, critical speed, distance running, endurance, performance changes

Authors: Andy Galbraith

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