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Open access

Stephen Crowcroft, Erin McCleave, Katie Slattery and Aaron J. Coutts

Purpose:

To assess measurement sensitivity and diagnostic characteristics of athlete-monitoring tools to identify performance change.

Methods:

Fourteen nationally competitive swimmers (11 male, 3 female; age 21.2 ± 3.2 y) recorded daily monitoring over 15 mo. The self-report group (n = 7) reported general health, energy levels, motivation, stress, recovery, soreness, and wellness. The combined group (n = 7) recorded sleep quality, perceived fatigue, total quality recovery (TQR), and heart-rate variability. The week-to-week change in mean weekly values was presented as coefficient of variance (CV%). Reliability was assessed on 3 occasions and expressed as the typical error CV%. Week-to-week change was divided by the reliability of each measure to calculate the signal-to-noise ratio. The diagnostic characteristics for both groups were assessed with receiver-operating-curve analysis, where area under the curve (AUC), Youden index, sensitivity, and specificity of measures were reported. A minimum AUC of .70 and lower confidence interval (CI) >.50 classified a “good” diagnostic tool to assess performance change.

Results:

Week-to-week variability was greater than reliability for soreness (3.1), general health (3.0), wellness% (2.0), motivation (1.6), sleep (2.6), TQR (1.8), fatigue (1.4), R-R interval (2.5), and LnRMSSD:RR (1.3). Only general health was a “good” diagnostic tool to assess decreased performance (AUC –.70, 95% CI, .61–.80).

Conclusion:

Many monitoring variables are sensitive to changes in fitness and fatigue. However, no single monitoring variable could discriminate performance change. As such the use of a multidimensional system that may be able to better account for variations in fitness and fatigue should be considered.

Open access

Anna E. Saw, Michael Kellmann, Luana C. Main and Paul B. Gastin

Athlete self-report measures (ASRM) have the potential to provide valuable insight into the training response; however, there is a disconnect between research and practice that needs to be addressed; namely, the measure or methods used in research are not always reflective of practice, or data primarily obtained from practice lacks empirical quality. This commentary reviews existing empirical measures and the psychometric properties required to be considered acceptable for research and practice. This information will allow discerning readers to make a judgment on the quality of ASRM data being reported in research papers. Fastidious practitioners and researchers are also provided with explicit guidelines for selecting and implementing an ASRM and reporting these details in research papers.

Open access

Avish P. Sharma, Philo U. Saunders, Laura A. Garvican-Lewis, Brad Clark, Jamie Stanley, Eileen Y. Robertson and Kevin G. Thompson

Purpose:

To determine the effect of training at 2100-m natural altitude on running speed (RS) during training sessions over a range of intensities relevant to middle-distance running performance.

Methods:

In an observational study, 19 elite middle-distance runners (mean ± SD age 25 ± 5 y, VO2max, 71 ± 5 mL · kg–1 · min–1) completed either 4–6 wk of sea-level training (CON, n = 7) or a 4- to 5-wk natural altitude-training camp living at 2100 m and training at 1400–2700 m (ALT, n = 12) after a period of sea-level training. Each training session was recorded on a GPS watch, and athletes also provided a score for session rating of perceived exertion (sRPE). Training sessions were grouped according to duration and intensity. RS (km/h) and sRPE from matched training sessions completed at sea level and 2100 m were compared within ALT, with sessions completed at sea level in CON describing normal variation.

Results:

In ALT, RS was reduced at altitude compared with sea level, with the greatest decrements observed during threshold- and VO2max-intensity sessions (5.8% and 3.6%, respectively). Velocity of low-intensity and race-pace sessions completed at a lower altitude (1400 m) and/or with additional recovery was maintained in ALT, though at a significantly greater sRPE (P = .04 and .05, respectively). There was no change in velocity or sRPE at any intensity in CON.

Conclusion:

RS in elite middle-distance athletes is adversely affected at 2100-m natural altitude, with levels of impairment dependent on the intensity of training. Maintenance of RS at certain intensities while training at altitude can result in a higher perceived exertion.

Open access

Alireza Esmaeili, Andrew M. Stewart, William G. Hopkins, George P. Elias and Robert J. Aughey

Purpose:

Detrimental changes in tendon structure increase the risk of tendinopathies. The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of individual internal and external training loads and leg dominance on changes in the Achilles and patellar tendon structure.

Methods:

The internal structure of the Achilles and patellar tendons of both limbs of 26 elite Australian footballers was assessed using ultrasound tissue characterization at the beginning and the end of an 18-wk preseason. Linear-regression analysis was used to estimate the effects of training load on changes in the proportion of aligned and intact tendon bundles for each side. Standardization and magnitude-based inferences were used to interpret the findings.

Results:

Possibly to very likely small increases in the proportion of aligned and intact tendon bundles occurred in the dominant Achilles (initial value 81.1%; change, ±90% confidence limits 1.6%, ±1.0%), nondominant Achilles (80.8%; 0.9%, ±1.0%), dominant patellar (75.8%; 1.5%, ±1.5%), and nondominant patellar (76.8%; 2.7%, ±1.4%) tendons. Measures of training load had inconsistent effects on changes in tendon structure; eg, there were possibly to likely small positive effects on the structure of the nondominant Achilles tendon, likely small negative effects on the dominant Achilles tendon, and predominantly no clear effects on the patellar tendons.

Conclusion:

The small and inconsistent effects of training load are indicative of the role of recovery between tendon-overloading (training) sessions and the multivariate nature of the tendon response to load, with leg dominance a possible influencing factor.

Open access

Rahel Gilgen-Ammann, Wolfgang Taube and Thomas Wyss

Purpose:

To quantify gait asymmetry in well-trained runners with and without previous injuries during interval training sessions incorporating different distances.

Methods:

Twelve well-trained runners participated in 8 high-intensity interval-training sessions on a synthetic track over a 4-wk period. The training consisted of 10 × 400, 8 × 600, 7 × 800, and 6 × 1000-m running. Using an inertial measurement unit, the ground-contact time (GCT) of every step was recorded. To determine gait asymmetry, the GCTs between the left and right foot were compared.

Results:

Overall, gait asymmetry was 3.3% ± 1.4%, and over the course of a training session, the gait asymmetry did not change (F 1,33 = 1.673, P = .205). The gait asymmetry of the athletes with a previous history of injury was significantly greater than that of the athletes without a previous injury. However, this injury-related enlarged asymmetry was detectable only at short (400 m), but not at longer, distances (600–1000 m).

Conclusion:

The gait asymmetry of well-trained athletes differed, depending on their history of injury and the running distance. To detect gait asymmetries, high-intensity runs over relatively short distances are recommended.

Open access

Pitre C. Bourdon, Marco Cardinale, Warren Gregson and N. Timothy Cable

Open access

Maximilian Pelka, Alexander Ferrauti, Tim Meyer, Mark Pfeiffer and Michael Kellmann

A recovery process with optimal prerequisites that is interrupted is termed disrupted recovery. Whether this process has an influence on performance-related factors needs to be investigated. Therefore, the aim of this study was to examine how a short disturbance of a recovery phase is assessed and whether subsequent repeated-sprint performance is affected by it. A quasi-experimental 2 × 2-factor crossover design with 34 sport-science undergraduate students (age 20.3 ± 2.1 y) was applied. Factors were the type of intervention (power nap vs systematic breathing; between-subjects) and the experimental condition (disturbed vs nondisturbed break; within-subject). Repeated-sprint performance was measured through 6 × 4-s sprint protocols (with 20-s breaks) before and after a 25-min recovery break on 2 test days. Subjective evaluation of the interventions was measured through the Short Recovery and Stress Scale and a manipulation check assessing whether participants experienced the recovery phase as efficacious and pleasant. Regarding the objective data, no significant difference between sprint performances in terms of average peak velocity (m/s) on the treadmill was found. The manipulation check revealed that disturbed conditions were rated significantly lower than regular conditions in terms of appreciation, t 31 = 3.09, P = .01. Short disturbances of recovery do not seem to affect subsequent performance; nevertheless, participants assessed disturbed conditions more negatively than regular conditions. In essence, the findings indicate a negligible role of short interruptions on an objective level. Subjectively, they affected the performance-related assessment of the participants and should be treated with caution.

Open access

Stephen Seiler and Øystein Sylta

The purpose of this study was to compare physiological responses and perceived exertion among well-trained cyclists (n = 63) performing 3 different high-intensity interval-training (HIIT) prescriptions differing in work-bout duration and accumulated duration but all prescribed with maximal session effort. Subjects (male, mean ± SD 38 ± 8 y, VO2peak 62 ± 6 mL · kg–1 · min–1) completed up to 24 HIIT sessions over 12 wk as part of a training-intervention study. Sessions were prescribed as 4 × 16, 4 × 8, or 4 × 4 min with 2-min recovery periods (8 sessions of each prescription, balanced over time). Power output, HR, and RPE were collected during and after each work bout. Session RPE was reported after each session. Blood lactate samples were collected throughout the 12 wk. Physiological and perceptual responses during >1400 training sessions were analyzed. HIIT sessions were performed at 95% ± 5%, 106% ± 5%, and 117% ± 6% of 40-min time-trial power during 4 × 16-, 4 × 8-, and 4 × 4-min sessions, respectively, with peak HR in each work bout averaging 89% ± 2%, 91% ± 2%, and 94% ± 2% HRpeak. Blood lactate concentrations were 4.7 ± 1.6, 9.2 ± 2.4, and 12.7 ± 2.7 mmol/L. Despite the common prescription of maximal session effort, RPE and sRPE increased with decreasing accumulated work duration (AWD), tracking relative HR. Only 8% of 4 × 16-min sessions reached RPE 19–20, vs 61% of 4 × 4-min sessions. The authors conclude that within the HIIT duration range, performing at “maximal session effort” over a reduced AWD is associated with higher perceived exertion both acutely and postexercise. This may have important implications for HIIT prescription choices.

Open access

Robin T. Thorpe, Anthony J. Strudwick, Martin Buchheit, Greg Atkinson, Barry Drust and Warren Gregson

Purpose:

To determine the sensitivity of a range of potential fatigue measures to daily training load accumulated over the previous 2, 3, and 4 d during a short in-season competitive period in elite senior soccer players (N = 10).

Methods:

Total highspeed-running distance, perceived ratings of wellness (fatigue, muscle soreness, sleep quality), countermovement-jump height (CMJ), submaximal heart rate (HRex), postexercise heart-rate recovery (HRR), and heart-rate variability (HRV: Ln rMSSD) were analyzed during an in-season competitive period (17 d). General linear models were used to evaluate the influence of 2-, 3-, and 4-d total high-speed-running-distance accumulation on fatigue measures.

Results:

Fluctuations in perceived ratings of fatigue were correlated with fluctuations in total high-speed-running-distance accumulation covered on the previous 2 d (r = –.31; small), 3 d (r = –.42; moderate), and 4 d (r = –.28; small) (P < .05). Changes in HRex (r = .28; small; P = .02) were correlated with changes in 4-d total high-speed-running-distance accumulation only. Correlations between variability in muscle soreness, sleep quality, CMJ, HRR%, and HRV and total high-speed-running distance were negligible and not statistically significant for all accumulation training loads.

Conclusions:

Perceived ratings of fatigue and HRex were sensitive to fluctuations in acute total high-speed-running-distance accumulation, although sensitivity was not systematically influenced by the number of previous days over which the training load was accumulated. The present findings indicate that the sensitivity of morning-measured fatigue variables to changes in training load is generally not improved when compared with training loads beyond the previous day’s training.