Do Elite Endurance Athletes Report Their Training Accurately?

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Øystein Sylta
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Espen Tønnessen
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Stephen Seiler
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Purpose:

The purpose of this study was to validate the accuracy of self-reported (SR) training duration and intensity distribution in elite endurance athletes.

Methods:

Twenty-four elite cross-country skiers (25 ± 4 y, 67.9 ± 9.88 kg, 75.9 ± 6.50 mL · min−1 · kg−1) SR all training sessions during an ~14-d altitude-training camp. Heart rate (HR) and some blood lactate measurements were collected during 466 training sessions. SR training was compared with recorded training duration from HR monitors, and SR intensity distribution was compared with expert analysis (EA) of all session data.

Results:

SR training was nearly perfectly correlated with recorded training duration (r = .99), but SR training was 1.7% lower than recorded training duration (P < .001). SR training duration was also nearly perfectly correlated (r = .95) with recorded training duration >55% HRmax, but SR training was 11.4% higher than recorded training duration >55% HRmax (P < .001) due to SR inclusion of time <55% HRmax. No significant differences were observed in intensity distribution in zones 1–2 between SR and EA comparisons, but small discrepancies were found in zones 3–4 (P < .001).

Conclusions:

This study provides evidence that elite endurance athletes report their training data accurately, although some small differences were observed due to lack of a SR “gold standard.” Daily SR training is a valid method of quantifying training duration and intensity distribution in elite endurance athletes. However, additional common reporting guidelines would further enhance accuracy.

Sylta and Seiler are with the Faculty of Health and Sport Sciences, University of Agder, Kristiansand, Norway. Tønnessen is with the Norwegian Olympic Federation, Oslo, Norway.

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