Pacing Strategies and Metabolic Responses During 4-Minute Running Time Trials

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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The aim of the current study was to investigate pacing strategies and the distribution of physiological resources in best vs worst performances during a series of 4-min self-paced running time trials (RunTTs).


Five male and 5 female recreational runners (age 32 ± 7 y) completed a submaximal ramp test and 5 RunTTs on a motor-driven treadmill fitted with a speed-controlling laser system. The supramaximal oxygen-uptake (V̇O2) demand was estimated by linear extrapolation from the submaximal relationship between V̇O2 and speed, enabling computation of the accumulated oxygen deficit.


There were no significant differences between the 5 RunTTs for any of the performance, physiological, or subjective responses (P > .05). The trial-to-trial variability in pacing (ie, separate quarters) was typically low, with an average within-athlete coefficient of variation of 3.3%, being highest at the start and end of the 4 min. Total distance covered and distance covered over the first and last 2 min for best and worst performances were 1137 ± 94 and 1090 ± 89 (P < .001), 565 ± 53 and 526 ± 40 m (P = .002), and 572 ± 47 and 565 ± 54 m (P = .346), respectively.


Negative pacing strategies were evident during both the best and the worst performances of the RunTT. Best performances were characterized by more aggressive pacing over the first 2 min compared with worst performances. In addition, the relatively low trial-to-trial variability in running speed suggests that pacing strategies are similar during a series of 4-min self-paced running time trials.

The authors are with the Swedish Winter Sports Research Centre, Mid Sweden University, Östersund, Sweden.

McGawley ( is corresponding author.
International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance