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Ben T. Stephenson, Eleanor Hynes, Christof A. Leicht, Keith Tolfrey, and Victoria L. Goosey-Tolfrey

Purpose: To gain an exploratory insight into the relation between training load (TL), salivary secretory immunoglobulin A (sIgA), and upper respiratory tract illness (URI) in elite paratriathletes. Methods: Seven paratriathletes were recruited. Athletes provided weekly saliva samples for the measurement of sIgA over 23 consecutive weeks (February to July) and a further 11 consecutive weeks (November to January). sIgA was compared to individuals’ weekly training duration, external TL, and internal TL, using time spent in predetermined heart-rate zones. Correlations were assessed via regression analyses. URI was quantified via weekly self-report symptom questionnaire. Results: There was a significant negative relation between athletes’ individual weekly training duration and sIgA secretion rate (P = .028), with changes in training duration accounting for 12.7% of the variance (quartiles: 0.2%, 19.2%). There was, however, no significant relation between external or internal TL and sIgA parameters (P ≥ .104). There was no significant difference in sIgA when URI was present or not (101% vs 118% healthy median concentration; P ≥ .225); likewise, there was no difference in sIgA when URI occurred within 2 wk of sampling or not (83% vs 125% healthy median concentration; P ≥ .120). Conclusions: Paratriathletes’ weekly training duration significantly affects sIgA secretion rate, yet the authors did not find a relation between external or internal TL and sIgA parameters. Furthermore, it was not possible to detect any link between sIgA and URI occurrence, which throws into question the potential of using sIgA as a monitoring tool for early detection of illness.

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Ben T. Stephenson, Christof A. Leicht, Keith Tolfrey, and Victoria L. Goosey-Tolfrey

Purpose: In able-bodied athletes, several hormonal, immunological, and psychological parameters are commonly assessed in response to intensified training due to their potential relationship to acute fatigue and training/nontraining stress. This has yet to be studied in Paralympic athletes. Methods: A total of 10 elite paratriathletes were studied for 5 wk around a 14-d overseas training camp whereby training load was 137% of precamp levels. Athletes provided 6 saliva samples (1 precamp, 4 during camp, and 1 postcamp) for cortisol, testosterone, and secretory immunoglobulin A; weekly psychological questionnaires (Profile of Mood State [POMS] and Recovery-Stress Questionnaire for Athletes [RESTQ-Sport]); and daily resting heart rate and subjective wellness measures including sleep quality and quantity. Results: There was no significant change in salivary cortisol, testosterone, cortisol:testosterone ratio, or secretory immunoglobulin A during intensified training (P ≥ .090). Likewise, there was no meaningful change in resting heart rate or subjective wellness measures (P ≥ .079). Subjective sleep quality and quantity increased during intensified training (P ≤ .003). There was no significant effect on any POMS subscale other than lower anger (P = .049), whereas there was greater general recovery and lower sport and general stress from RESTQ-Sport (P ≤ .015). Conclusions: There was little to no change in parameters commonly associated with the fatigued state, which may relate to the training-camp setting minimizing external life stresses and the careful management of training loads from coaches. This is the first evidence of such responses in Paralympic athletes.

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Ben T. Stephenson, Sven P. Hoekstra, Keith Tolfrey, and Victoria L. Goosey-Tolfrey

Purpose: Paratriathletes may display impairments in autonomic (sudomotor and/or vasomotor function) or behavioral (drinking and/or pacing of effort) thermoregulation. As such, this study aimed to describe the thermoregulatory profile of athletes competing in the heat. Methods: Core temperature (T c) was recorded at 30-second intervals in 28 mixed-impairment paratriathletes during competition in a hot environment (air temperature = 33°C, relative humidity = 35%–41%, and water temperature = 25°C–27°C), via an ingestible temperature sensor (BodyCap e-Celsius). Furthermore, in a subset of 9 athletes, skin temperature was measured. Athletes’ wetsuit use was noted while heat illness symptoms were self-reported postrace. Results: In total, 22 athletes displayed a T c ≥ 39.5°C with 8 athletes ≥40.0°C. There were increases across the average T c for swim, bike, and run sections (P ≤ .016). There was no change in skin temperature during the race (P ≥ .086). Visually impaired athletes displayed a significantly greater T c during the run section than athletes in a wheelchair (P ≤ .021). Athletes wearing a wetsuit (57% athletes) had a greater T c when swimming (P ≤ .032), whereas those reporting heat illness symptoms (57% athletes) displayed a greater T c at various time points (P ≤ .046). Conclusions: Paratriathletes face significant thermal strain during competition in the heat, as evidenced by high T c, relative to previous research in able-bodied athletes and a high incidence of self-reported heat illness symptomatology. Differences in the T c profile exist depending on athletes’ race category and wetsuit use.