This study compared team performances of adolescent female cross-country runners in relation to maximal oxygen consumption (V̇O2 max), ventilatory threshold, and running economy (RE). Twenty female runners (M age = 16.0 yrs) from four high school teams that competed in the Massachusetts All-State Cross-Country Championship Meet underwent maximal treadmill testing. When physiologic parameters were grouped by team, significant differences were observed for only V̇O2 max and percent V̇O2 at a 215 m • min−1 pace. The mean VO2 max for Team 1 (the All-State Meet champions) was found to be significantly higher than that of Teams 3 and 4 (70.7 ± 4 vs. 56.5±4, and 58.6 ± 4 ml • kg−1 • min−1, respectively). When running on the treadmill at a 215 m • min−1 pace, members of Team 1 were working at a significandy lower percent of VO2 max than Team 3 (70 ± 3 vs. 84 ± 4). The estimated physiologic requirements for running the All-State Meet based upon data derived from physiologic testing were not statistically different between teams (p>0.05). In conclusion, most of the physiologic variables investigated were not sensitive enough to separate out performance differences between top high school cross-country teams. Of these variables, VO2 max is suggested to be the primary physiologic determinant for team success for this age group of female runners.
Lee N. Cunningham is with the Department of Physical Education at Fitchburg State College, Fitchburg, MA 01420.