Prior experience of fatiguing tasks is considered essential to establishing an optimal pacing strategy. This study examined the pacing behavior of inexperienced children during self-paced, 800 m running, both individually and within a competitive environment. Thirteen children (aged 9−11 y) completed a graded-exercise test to volitional exhaustion on a treadmill (laboratory trial), followed by three self-paced, individual 800 m time-trials (Trials 1−3) and one self-paced, competitive 800 m time-trial (Trial 4) on an outdoor athletics track. Ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) and heart rate (HR) were measured throughout all trials. Overall performance time improved from Trial 1−3 (250.1 ± 50.4 s & 242.4 ± 51.5 s, respectively, p < .017). The difference in overall performance time between Trials 3 and 4 (260.5 ± 54.2 s) was approaching significance (p = .06). The pacing strategy employed from the outset was consistent across all trials. These findings dispute the notion that an optimal pacing strategy is learned with exercise experience or training.
Lambrick is with Institute of Food, Nutrition and Human Health, Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand. Rowlands and Eston are with the Dept. of Exercise for Health and Human Performance, Sansom Institute for Health Research, School of Health Sciences, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia. Rowland is with the Dept. of Pediatrics, Baystate Medical Center, Springfield, MA.