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Arturo Casado and Andrew Renfree

Purpose: To assess tactical and performance factors associated with progression from qualification rounds in the 800-m and 1500-m running events at the 2017 International Association of Athletics Federations World Championships. Methods: Official results were used to access final and intermediate positions and times, as well as performance characteristics of competitors. Shared variance between intermediate positions and rank order lap times with finishing positions were calculated, along with probability of automatic qualification, for athletes in each available race position at the end of every 400-m lap. Differences in race positions and lap times relative to season’s best performances were assessed between automatic qualifiers, fastest losers, and nonqualifiers. Results: Race positions at the end of each 400-m lap remained more stable through 800-m races than 1500-m races. Probability of automatic qualification decreased with both race position and rank order lap times on each lap, although rank order lap times accounted for a higher degree of shared variance than did intermediate position. In the 1500-m event, fastest losers ran at a higher percentage of season’s best speed and adopted positions closer to the race lead in the early stages. This was not the case in the 800-m. Conclusions: Intermediate positioning and the ability to produce a fast final race segment are strongly related to advancement from qualification rounds in middle-distance running events. The adoption of a more “risky” strategy characterized by higher speeds relative to season’s best may be associated with an increased likelihood of qualification as fastest losers in the 1500-m event.

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Mark Kenneally, Arturo Casado, and Jordan Santos-Concejero

This review aimed to examine the current evidence for 3 primary training intensity distribution types: (1) pyramidal training, (2) polarized training, and (3) threshold training. Where possible, the training intensity zones relative to the goal race pace, rather than physiological or subjective variables, were calculated. Three electronic databases (PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science) were searched in May 2017 for original research articles. After analysis of 493 resultant original articles, studies were included if they met the following criteria: (1) Their participants were middle- or long-distance runners; (2) they analyzed training intensity distribution in the form of observational reports, case studies, or interventions; (3) they were published in peer-reviewed journals; and (4) they analyzed training programs with a duration of 4 wk or longer. Sixteen studies met the inclusion criteria, which included 6 observational reports, 3 case studies, 6 interventions, and 1 review. According to the results of this analysis, pyramidal and polarized training are more effective than threshold training, although the latest is used by some of the best marathon runners in the world. Despite this apparent contradictory finding, this review presents evidence for the organization of training into zones based on a percentage of goal race pace, which allows for different periodization types to be compatible. This approach requires further development to assess whether specific percentages above and below race pace are key to inducing optimal changes.

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Andrew Renfree, Arturo Casado, Gonzalo Pellejero, and Brian Hanley

Purpose: To determine different relationships between, and predictive ability of, performance variables at intermediate distances with finishing time in elite male 10,000-m runners. Methods: Official electronic finishing and 100-m split times of the men’s 10,000-m finals at the 2008 and 2016 Olympic Games and IAAF World Championships in 2013 and 2017 were obtained (125 athlete performances in total). Correlations were calculated between finishing times and positions and performance variables related to speed, position, time to the leader, and time to the runner in front at 2000, 4000, 6000, 8000, and 9900 m. Stepwise linear-regression analysis was conducted between finishing times and positions and these variables across the race. One-way analysis of variance was performed to identify differences between intermediate distances. Results: The SD and kurtosis of mean time, skewness of mean time, and position and time difference to the leader were either correlated with or significantly contributed to predictions of finishing time and position at at least one of the analyzed distances (.81 ≥ r ≥ .30 and .001 ≤ P ≤ .03, respectively). These variables also displayed variation across the race (.001 ≤ P ≤ .05). Conclusions: The ability to undertake a high degree of pace variability, mostly characterized by acceleration in the final stages, is strongly associated with achievement of high finishing positions in championship 10,000-m racing. Furthermore, the adoption and maintenance of positions close to the front of the race from the early stages are important to achieve a high finishing position.

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José María González-Ravé, Francisco Hermosilla, Fernando González-Mohíno, Arturo Casado, and David B. Pyne

A well-planned periodized approach allows swimmers to achieve peak performance at the major national and international competitions. Purpose: To identify the main characteristics of endurance training for highly trained swimmers described by the training intensity distribution (TID), volume, and periodization models. Methods: The electronic databases Scopus, PubMed, and Web of Science were searched using a comprehensive list of relevant terms. Studies that investigated the effect of the periodization of training in swimming, with the training load (volume, TID) and periodization reported, were included in the systematic review. Results: A total of 3487 studies were identified, and after removal of duplicates and elimination of papers based on title and abstract screening, 17 articles remained.  A further 8 articles were excluded after full text review, leaving a final total of 9 studies in the systematic review. The evidence levels were 1b for intervention studies (n = 3) and 2b for (observational) retrospective studies (n = 6). The sprint swimmers typically followed a polarized and threshold TID, the middle-distance swimmers followed a threshold and pyramidal TID, and the long-distance swimmers primarily followed a pyramidal TID. The periodization model identified in the majority of studies selected is characterized by wave-like cycles in units like mesocycles to promote physiological adaptations and skill acquisition. Conclusions: Highly trained swimmers follow a training volume and TID based on their primary event. There is a need for further experimental studies on the effects of block and reverse periodization models on swimming performance. Although observational studies of training have limited evidence, it is unclear whether a different training/periodization approach would yield better results.