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  • Author: Alan St. Clair Gibson x
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Andrew Renfree and Alan St Clair Gibson

Purpose:

To analyze pacing strategies displayed by athletes achieving differing levels of performance during an elite-level marathon race.

Methods:

Competitors in the 2009 IAAF Women’s Marathon Championship were split into groups 1, 2, 3, and 4 comprising the first, second, third, and fourth 25% of finishers, respectively. Final, intermediate, and personal-best (PB) times of finishers were converted to mean speeds, and relative speed (% of PB speed) was calculated for intermediate segments.

Results:

Mean PB speed decreased from groups 1 to 4, and speeds maintained in the race were 98.5% ± 1.8%, 97.4% ± 3.2%, 95.0% ± 3.1%, and 92.4% ± 4.4% of PB speed for groups 1–4 respectively. Group 1 was fastest in all segments, and differences in speed between groups increased throughout the race. Group 1 ran at lower relative speeds than other groups for the first two 5-km segments but higher relative speeds after 35 km. Significant differences (P < .01) in the percentage of PB speed maintained were observed between groups 1 and 4 and groups 2 and 4 in all segments after 20 km and groups 3 and 4 from 20 to 25 km and 30 to 35 km.

Conclusions:

Group 1 athletes achieved better finishing times relative to their PB than athletes in other groups, who selected unsustainable initial speeds resulting in subsequent significant losses of speed. It is suggested that psychological factors specific to a major competitive event influenced decision making by athletes, and poor decisions resulted in final performances inferior to those expected based on PB times.

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Mark R. Stone, Alan St Clair Gibson and Kevin G. Thompson

Purpose:

Exercise is known to result in hemodynamic changes in the bilateral prefrontal cortex. The aim of this study was to investigate hemodynamic changes in right and left hemispheres of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) during incremental cycling exercise.

Methods:

After 10 min rest, 9 participants (mean age 26.6 ± 2.5 y, mass 77.5 ± 9.7 kg, stature 1.79 ± 0.9 m) cycled at 100–150 W for 4 min. Thereafter, resistance was increased by 25 W every 4 min until exhaustion (EXH). Respiratory exchange and concentrations of oxy- ([HbO2]), deoxy- ([(HHb]), and total hemoglobin ([Hbtot]) in the PFC were continuously measured. Data were averaged for 60 s at rest and preceding ventilatory threshold 1 (VT1), VT2, and volitional EXH and after 5 min recovery. Subjective ratings of affect were measured at VT1, VT2, VT1 minus 25 W (VT1-25W), and VT2 plus 25 W (VT2+25W).

Results:

There were no between-hemispheres differences in [HbO2] or [Hbtot] at rest, VT1, or recovery or in [HHb] at any point. Right-hemisphere [HbO2] and [Hbtot] were significantly greater than left at VT2 (P = .01 and P = .02) and EXH (P = .03 and P = .02). Affect was significantly greater at VT1-25W vs VT2 and VT2+25W and at VT1 and VT2 vs VT2+25W (P < .01–.03).

Conclusions:

To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first study to describe an exercise-state-dependent change in PFC asymmetry during incremental exercise. The asymmetry detected coincided with a decrease in affect scores in agreement with the PFC-asymmetry hypothesis.

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Andrew Renfree, Louise Martin, Ashley Richards and Alan St Clair Gibson

Purpose:

This study examined individual contributions to overall pacing strategy during 2- and 5-km rowing trials in a coxless-4 boat.

Methods:

A crew of 4 male rowers performed maximal-effort on-water trials over 2 and 5 km, and power output during every individual stroke was measured for each crew member. Mean overall boat and individual rower stroke power were calculated for each 25% epoch (25% of total strokes taken), and power for each individual epoch was calculated as a percentage of mean power maintained over the entire distance. The coefficient of variation was used to determine stroke-to-stroke and epoch-to-epoch variability for individual rowers and the overall boat.

Results:

In both trials, the overall pacing strategy consisted of a high power output in the initial 25% that decreased in the middle 50% and increased again in the final 25%. However, individual rower data indicate wide variation in individual power profiles that did not always mimic the overall boat profile.

Conclusions:

This study demonstrates that overall boat power profiles during 2- and 5-km rowing trials are similar to velocity profiles previously reported for individual ergometry and on-water racing events. However, this overall profile is achieved despite considerable variation in individual rower profiles. Further research is warranted to determine the mechanisms through which individual contributions to overall pacing strategy are regulated and the effectiveness or otherwise of seemingly disparate individual strategies on overall performance.

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Graham J. Mytton, David T. Archer, Alan St Clair Gibson and Kevin G. Thompson

Purpose:

To assess the reliability and stability of 400-m swimming and 1500-m running competitions to establish the number of samples needed to obtain a stable pacing profile. Coaches, athletes, and researchers can use these methods to ensure that sufficient data are collected before training and race strategies are constructed or research conclusions are drawn.

Method:

Lap times were collected from 5 world and European championship finals between 2005 and 2011, resulting in the capture of data from 40 swimmers and 55 runners. A cumulative mean for each lap was calculated, starting with the most recent data, and the number of races needed for this to stabilize to within 1% was reported. Typical error for each lap was calculated for athletes who had competed in more than 1 final.

Results:

International swimmers demonstrated more reproducible performances than runners in 3 of the 4 laps of the race (P < .01). Variance in runners’ lap times significantly decreased by 1.7–2.7% after lap 1, whereas variance in swimmers’ lap times tended to increase by 0.1–0.5% after lap 1. To establish a stable profile, at least ten 400-m swimmers and forty-four 1500-m runners must be included.

Conclusions:

A stable race profile was observed from the analysis of 5 events for 1500-m running and 3 events for 400-m swimming. Researchers and athletes can be more certain about the pacing information collected from 400-m swimming than 1500-m running races, as the swimming data are less variable, despite both events being of similar duration.

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Andrew Renfree, Graham J. Mytton, Sabrina Skorski and Alan St Clair Gibson

Purpose:

To identify tactical factors associated with progression from preliminary rounds in middle-distance running events at an international championship.

Methods:

Results from the 2012 Olympic Games were used to access final and intermediate positions, finishing times, and season-best (SB) times for competitors in men’s and women’s 800-m and 1500-m events (fifteen 800-m races and ten 1500-m races). Finishing times were calculated as %SB, and Pearson product–moment correlations were used to assess relationships between intermediate and finishing positions. Probability (P) of qualification to the next round was calculated for athletes in each available intermediate position.

Results:

There were no significant differences in finishing times relative to SB between qualifiers and nonqualifiers. In the 800-m, correlation coefficients between intermediate and final positions were r = .61 and r = .84 at 400 m and 600 m, respectively, whereas in the 1500-m, correlations were r = .35, r = .43, r = .55, and r = .71 at 400 m, 800 m, 1000 m, and 1200 m, respectively. In both events, probability of qualification decreased with position at all intermediate distances. At all points, those already in qualifying positions were more likely to qualify for the next round.

Conclusions:

The data demonstrate that tactical positioning at intermediate points in qualifying rounds of middle-distance races is a strong determinant of qualification. In 800-m races it is important to be in a qualifying position by 400 m. In the 1500-m event, although more changes in position are apparent, position at intermediate distances is still strongly related to successful qualification.

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Graham J. Mytton, David T. Archer, Kevin G. Thompson, Andrew Renfree and Alan St Clair Gibson

The collection of retrospective lap times from video footage is a potentially useful research tool to analyze the pacing strategies in any number of competitive events. The aim of this study was to validate a novel method of obtaining running split-time data from publically available video footage. Videos of the 1500-m men’s final from the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, 2005 and 2009 World Championships, and 2010 European Championships were obtained from the YouTube Web site, and split times were collected from all competitors using frame-by-frame playback. The typical error of video split times ranged between 0.02 s and 0.11 s for the 4 laps when compared with official split times. Video finishing times were also similar to official finishing times (typical error of 0.04 s). The method was shown to be highly reliable with a typical error of 0.02 s when the same video was analyzed on 2 occasions separated by 8 mo. Video data of track races are widely available; however, camera angles are not always perpendicular to the start/finish line, and some slower athletes may cross the line after the camera has panned away. Nevertheless, the typical errors reported here show that when appropriate camera angles are available this method is both valid and reliable.

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Andrew Renfree, Julia West, Mark Corbett, Clare Rhoden and Alan St Clair Gibson

Purpose:

This study examined the determinants of pacing strategy and performance during self-paced maximal exercise.

Methods:

Eight well-trained cyclists completed two 20-km time trials. Power output, rating of perceived exertion (RPE), positive and negative affect, and iEMG activity of the active musculature were recorded every 0.5 km, confidence in achieving preexercise goals was assessed every 5 km, and blood lactate and pH were measured postexercise. Differences in all parameters were assessed between fastest (FAST) and slowest (SLOW) trials performed.

Results:

Mean power output was significantly higher during the initial 90% of FAST, but not the final 10%, and blood lactate concentration was significantly higher and pH significantly lower following FAST. Mean iEMG activity was significantly higher throughout SLOW. Rating of perceived exertion was similar throughout both trials, but participants had significantly more positive affect and less negative affect throughout FAST. Participants grew less confident in their ability to achieve their goals throughout SLOW.

Conclusions:

The results suggest that affect may be the primary psychological regulator of pacing strategy and that higher levels of positivity and lower levels of negativity may have been associated with a more aggressive strategy during FAST. Although the exact mechanisms through which affect acts to influence performance are unclear, it may determine the degree of physiological disruption that can be tolerated, or be reflective of peripheral physiological status in relation to the still to be completed exercise task.

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Nick Caplan, Andrew Forbes, Sarkhell Radha, Su Stewart, Alistair Ewen, Alan St Clair Gibson and Deiary Kader

Context:

Ankle immobilization is often used after ankle injury.

Objective:

To determine the influence of 1 week’s unilateral ankle immobilization on plantar-flexor strength, balance, and walking gait in asymptomatic volunteers.

Design:

Repeated-measures laboratory study.

Setting:

University laboratory.

Participants:

6 physically active male participants with no recent history of lower-limb injury.

Interventions:

Participants completed a 1-wk period of ankle immobilization achieved through wearing a below-knee ankle cast. Before the cast was applied, as well as immediately, 24 h, and 48 h after cast removal, their plantar-flexor strength was assessed isokinetically, and they completed a single-leg balance task as a measure of proprioceptive function. An analysis of their walking gait was also completed

Main Outcome Measures:

Peak plantar-flexor torque and balance were used to determine any effect on muscle strength and proprioception after cast removal. Ranges of motion (3D) of the ankle, knee, and hip, as well as walking speed, were used to assess any influence on walking gait.

Results:

After cast removal, plantar-flexor strength was reduced for the majority of participants (P = .063, CI = −33.98 to 1.31) and balance performance was reduced in the immobilized limb (P < .05, CI = 0.84−5.16). Both strength and balance were not significantly different from baseline levels by 48 h. Walking speed was not significantly different immediately after cast removal but increased progressively above baseline walking speed over the following 48 h. Joint ranges of motion were not significantly different at any time point.

Conclusions:

The reduction in strength and balance after such a short period of immobilization suggested compromised central and peripheral neural mechanisms. This suggestion appeared consistent with the delayed increase in walking speed that could occur as a result of the excitability of the neural pathways increasing toward baseline levels.

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Graham J. Mytton, David T. Archer, Louise Turner, Sabrina Skorski, Andrew Renfree, Kevin G. Thompson and Alan St Clair Gibson

Purpose:

Previous literature has presented pacing data of groups of competition finalists. The aim of this study was to analyze the pacing patterns displayed by medalists and nonmedalists in international competitive 400-m swimming and 1500-m running finals.

Methods:

Split times were collected from 48 swimming finalists (four 100-m laps) and 60 running finalists (4 laps) in international competitions from 2004 to 2012. Using a cross-sectional design, lap speeds were normalized to whole-race speed and compared to identify variations of pace between groups of medalists and nonmedalists. Lap-speed variations relative to the gold medalist were compared for the whole field.

Results:

In 400-m swimming the medalist group demonstrated greater variation in speed than the nonmedalist group, being relatively faster in the final lap (P < .001; moderate effect) and slower in laps 1 (P = .03; moderate effect) and 2 (P > .001; moderate effect). There were also greater variations of pace in the 1500-m running medalist group than in the nonmedalist group, with a relatively faster final lap (P = .03; moderate effect) and slower second lap (P = .01; small effect). Swimming gold medalists were relatively faster than all other finalists in lap 4 (P = .04), and running gold medalists were relatively faster than the 5th- to 12th-placed athletes in the final lap (P = .02).

Conclusions:

Athletes who win medals in 1500-m running and 400-m swimming competitions show different pacing patterns than nonmedalists. End-spurtspeed increases are greater with medalists, who demonstrate a slower relative speed in the early part of races but a faster speed during the final part of races than nonmedalists.

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Louise Martin, Anneliese Lambeth-Mansell, Liane Beretta-Azevedo, Lucy A. Holmes, Rachel Wright and Alan St Clair Gibson

Purpose:

Given the paucity of research on pacing strategies during competitive events, this study examined changes in dynamic high-resolution performance parameters to analyze pacing profiles during a multiple-lap mountain-bike race over variable terrain.

Methods:

A global-positioning-system (GPS) unit (Garmin, Edge 305, USA) recorded velocity (m/s), distance (m), elevation (m), and heart rate at 1 Hz from 6 mountain-bike riders (mean ± SD age = 27.2 ± 5.0 y, stature = 176.8 ± 8.1 cm, mass = 76.3 ± 11.7 kg, VO2max = 55.1 ± 6.0 mL · kg−1 . min−1) competing in a multilap race. Lap-by-lap (interlap) pacing was analyzed using a 1-way ANOVA for mean time and mean velocity. Velocity data were averaged every 100 m and plotted against race distance and elevation to observe the presence of intralap variation.

Results:

There was no significant difference in lap times (P = .99) or lap velocity (P = .65) across the 5 laps. Within each lap, a high degree of oscillation in velocity was observed, which broadly reflected changes in terrain, but high-resolution data demonstrated additional nonmonotonic variation not related to terrain.

Conclusion:

Participants adopted an even pace strategy across the 5 laps despite rapid adjustments in velocity during each lap. While topographical and technical variations of the course accounted for some of the variability in velocity, the additional rapid adjustments in velocity may be associated with dynamic regulation of self-paced exercise.