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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.