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James C. Martin, Christopher J. Davidson, and Eric R. Pardyjak

Sprint-cycling performance is paramount to competitive success in over half the world-championship and Olympic races in the sport of cycling. This review examines the current knowledge behind the interaction of propulsive and resistive forces that determine sprint performance. Because of recent innovation in field power-measuring devices, actual data from both elite track- and road-cycling sprint performances provide additional insight into key performance determinants and allow for the construction of complex models of sprint-cycling performance suitable for forward integration. Modeling of various strategic scenarios using a variety of field and laboratory data can highlight the relative value for certain tactically driven choices during competition.

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James C. Brown, Caron-Jayne Miller, Michael Posthumus, Martin P. Schwellnus, and Malcolm Collins

Purpose:

Endurance running performance is a multifactorial phenotype that is strongly associated with running economy. Sit and reach range of motion (SR ROM) is negatively associated with running economy, suggesting that reduced SR ROM is advantageous for endurance running performance. The COL5A1 gene has been associated with both endurance running performance and SR ROM in separate cohorts. The aim of this study was to investigate whether COL5A1 is associated with ultra-marathon running performance and whether this relationship could be partly explained by prerace SR ROM.

Methods:

Seventy-two runners (52 male, 20 female) were recruited from the 56 km Two Oceans ultra-marathon and were assessed for prerace SR ROM. The cohort was genotyped for the COL5A1 BsfUI restriction fragment length polymorphism, and race times were collected after the event.

Results:

Participants with a TT genotype (341 ± 41 min, N = 21) completed the 56 km Two Oceans ultra-marathon significantly (P = 0.014) faster than participants with TC and CC genotypes (365 ± 39 min, N = 50). The COL5A1 genotype and age accounted for 19% of performance variance. When the cohort was divided into performance and flexibility quadrants, the T allele was significantly (P = 0.044) over-represented within the fast and inflexible quadrant.

Conclusion:

The COL5A1 genotype was found to be significantly associated with performance in a 56 km ultra-endurance run. This study confirms previous findings and it furthers our understanding of the relationships among ROM, COL5A1, and endurance running performance. We continue to speculate that the COL5A1 gene alters muscle-tendon stiffness.

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Ernest G. Rimer, Linda R. Peterson, Andrew R. Coggan, and James C. Martin

Muscle-shortening velocity and hence power have been shown to increase in the presence of nitric oxide (NO). NO availability increases after consuming nitrate (NO3 -). Ingestion of NO3 -rich beetroot juice (BRJ) has increased muscle power in untrained adults.

Purpose:

This study determined whether NO3 - supplementation could acutely enhance maximal power in trained athletes.

Methods:

In this double-blind, crossover study, 13 trained athletes performed maximal inertial-load cycling trials (3–4 s) immediately before (PRE) and after (POST) consuming either NO3 -rich (NO3) or NO3 -depleted (PLA) BRJ to assess acute changes (ie, within the same day) in maximal power (PMAX) and optimal pedaling rate (RPMopt). Participants also performed maximal isokinetic cycling (30 s) to assess performance differences after supplementation.

Results:

2 x 2 repeated-measures ANOVA indicated a greater increase in PMAX from PRE to POST NO3 (PRE 1160 ± 301 W to POST 1229 ± 317 W) than with PLA (PRE 1191 ± 298 W to POST 1213 ± 300 W) (P = .009; η p 2 = 0.45). A paired t-test verified a greater relative change in PMAX after NO3 (6.0% ± 2.6%) than with PLA (2.0% ± 3.8%) (P = .014; d = 1.21). RPMopt remained unchanged from PRE (123 ± 14 rpm) to POST PLA (122 ± 14 rpm) but increased from PRE (120 ± 14 rpm) to POST NO3 (127 ± 13 rpm) (P = .043; η p 2 = 0.30). There was no relative change in RPMopt after PLA (–0.3% ± 4.1%), but there was an increase after NO3 (6.5% ± 11.4%) (P = .049; d = 0.79). No differences were observed between the 30-s isokinetic trials.

Conclusions:

Acute NO3 - supplementation can enhance maximal muscle power in trained athletes. These findings may particularly benefit power-sport athletes who perform brief explosive actions.