Effects of Time of Day on Pacing in a 4-km Time Trial in Trained Cyclists

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Context: Time of day has been shown to impact athletic performance, with improved performance observed in the late afternoon–early evening. Diurnal variations in physiological factors may contribute to variations in pacing selection; however, research investigating time-of-day influence on pacing is limited. Purpose: To investigate the influence of time-of-day on pacing selection in a 4-km cycling time trial (TT). Methods: Nineteen trained male cyclists (mean [SD] age 39.0 [10.7] y, height 1.8 [0.1] m, body mass 78.0 [9.4] kg, VO2max 62.1 [8.7] mL·kg−1·min−1) completed a 4-km TT on 5 separate occasions at 08:30, 11:30, 14:30, 17:30, and 20:30. All TTs were completed in a randomized order, separated by a minimum of 2 d and maximum of 7 d. Results: No time-of-day effects were observed in pacing as demonstrated by similar power outputs over 0.5-km intervals (P = .78) or overall mean power output (333.0 [38.9], 339.8 [37.2], 335.5 [31.2], 336.7 [35.2], and 334.9 [35.7] W; P = .45) when TTs were performed at 08:30, 11:30, 14:30, 17:30, and 20:30. Preexercise tympanic temperature demonstrated a time-of-day effect (P < .001), with tympanic temperature higher at 14:30 and 17:30 than at 08:30 and 11:30. Conclusion: While a biological rhythm was present in tympanic temperature, pacing selection and performance when completing a 4-km cycling TT were not influenced by time of day. The findings suggest that well-trained cyclists can maintain a robust pacing strategy for a 4-km TT regardless of time of the day.

Zadow is with the Holsworth Research Initiative, La Trobe Rural Health School, La Trobe University, Bendigo, VIC, Australia. Fell and Kitic are with the School of Health Sciences, Sports Performance Optimisation Research Team, University of Tasmania, Launceston, TAS, Australia. Han is with the Dept of Sport Rehabilitation, Shanghai University of Sport, Shanghai, China. Wu is with the Dept of Health and Medical Sciences, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.

Zadow (E.Zadow@latrobe.edu.au) is corresponding author.
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