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Daniel Bok and Igor Jukić

Purpose: To report creatine kinase ([CK]) responses during a soccer World Cup preparatory and first-leg period and to determine the influence of aerobic fitness on postmatch [CK] responses. Methods: Eleven national-team players were analyzed in this study. A lactate threshold test was performed during the first 3 d, whereas fingertip blood was drawn most mornings (21 out of 30 d) for [CK] measurements. One-way repeated-measures analysis of variance was used for determining the effect of time on [CK] measurements, whereas Pearson correlation coefficient was used for assessing associations between the changes in [CK] and velocities associated with blood lactate concentrations of 2 (v2) and 4 mmol·L−1 (v4). Results: Peak [CK] concentrations were consistently reached on the first day after the match with values of 474 (261), 520 (419), and 460 (126) U·L−1 but with no significant differences between them. [CK] concentrations returned to prematch values (331 [201] U·L−1) on the second day after the match. The change in [CK] concentration between prematch and postmatch day was largely correlated (r = .614, P = .044) with v2. Conclusions: Top-level soccer players display low levels of muscle damage during official tournaments, and they recover before the next match. Postmatch muscle damage is greater in players with higher aerobic endurance because this fitness quality enables them to execute high-intensity activities known to be a major contributor to muscle damage.

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Carl Foster, Jos J. de Koning, Christian Thiel, Bram Versteeg, Daniel A. Boullosa, Daniel Bok and John P. Porcari

Background: Pacing studies suggest the distribution of effort for optimizing performance. Cross-sectional studies of 1-mile world records (WRs) suggest that WR progression includes a smaller coefficient of variation of velocity. Purpose: This study evaluates whether intraindividual pacing used by elite runners to break their own WR (1 mile, 5 km, and 10 km) is related to the evolution of pacing strategy. We provide supportive data from analysis in subelite runners. Methods: Men’s WR performances (with 400-m or 1-km splits) in 1 mile, 5 km, and 10 km were retrieved from the IAAF database (from 1924 to present). Data were analyzed relative to pacing pattern when a runner improved their own WR. Similar analyses are presented for 10-km performance in subelite runners before and after intensified training. Results: WR performance was improved in 1 mile (mean [SD]: 3:59.4 [11.2] to 3:57.2 [8.6]), 5 km (13:27 [0:33] to 13:21 [0:33]), and 10 km (28:35 [1:27] to 28:21 [1:21]). The average coefficient of variation did not change in the 1 mile (3.4% [1.8%] to 3.6% [1.6%]), 5 km (2.4% [0.9%] to 2.2% [0.8%]), or 10 km (1.4% [0.1%] to 1.5% [0.6%]) with improved WR. When velocity was normalized to the percentage mean velocity for each race, the pacing pattern was almost identical. Very similar patterns were observed in subelite runners in the 10 km. When time improved from 49:20 (5:30) to 45:56 (4:58), normalized velocity was similar, terminal RPE increased (8.4 [1.6] to 9.1 [0.8]), coefficient of variation was unchanged (4.4% [1.1%] to 4.8% [2.1%]), and VO2max increased (49.8 [7.4] to 55.3 [8.8] mL·min−1·kg−1). Conclusion: The results suggest that when runners break their own best performances, they employ the same pacing pattern, which is different from when WRs are improved in cross-sectional data.