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  • Author: Gareth N. Sandford x
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Gareth N. Sandford, Sian V. Allen, Andrew E. Kilding, Angus Ross and Paul B. Laursen

Purpose: In recent years (2011–2016), men’s 800-m championship running performances have required greater speed than previous eras (2000–2009). The “anaerobic speed reserve” (ASR) may be a key differentiator of this performance, but profiles of elite 800-m runners and their relationship to performance time have yet to be determined. Methods: The ASR—determined as the difference between maximal sprint speed (MSS) and predicted maximal aerobic speed (MAS)—of 19 elite 800- and 1500-m runners was assessed using 50-m sprint and 1500-m race performance times. Profiles of 3 athlete subgroups were examined using cluster analysis and the speed reserve ratio (SRR), defined as MSS/MAS. Results: For the same MAS, MSS and ASR showed very large negative (both r = −.74 ± .30, ±90% confidence limits; very likely) relationships with 800-m performance time. In contrast, for the same MSS, ASR and MAS had small negative relationships (both r = −.16 ± .54; possibly) with 800-m performance. ASR, 800-m personal best, and SRR best defined the 3 subgroups along a continuum of 800-m runners, with SRR values as follows: 400–800 m ≥ 1.58, 800 m ≤ 1.57 to ≥ 1.48, and 800–1500 m ≤ 1.47 to ≥ 1.36. Conclusion: MSS had the strongest relationship with 800-m performance, whereby for the same MSS, MAS and ASR showed only small relationships to differences in 800-m time. Furthermore, the findings support the coaching observation of three 800-m subgroups, with the SRR potentially representing a useful and practical tool for identifying an athlete’s 800-m profile. Future investigations should consider the SRR framework and its application for individualized training approaches in this event.

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Gareth N. Sandford, Simon Pearson, Sian V. Allen, Rita M. Malcata, Andrew E. Kilding, Angus Ross and Paul B. Laursen

Purpose: To assess the longitudinal evolution of tactical behaviors used to medal in men’s 800-m Olympic Games (OG) or world-championship (WC) events in the recent competition era (2000–2016). Methods: Thirteen OG and WC events were characterized for 1st- and 2nd-lap splits using available footage from YouTube. Positive pacing strategies were defined as a faster 1st lap. Season’s best 800-m time and world ranking, reflective of an athlete’s “peak condition,” were obtained to determine relationships between adopted tactics and physical condition prior to the championships. Seven championship events provided coverage of all medalists to enable determination of average 100-m speed and sector pacing of medalists. Results: From 2011 onward, 800-m OG and WC medalists showed a faster 1st lap by 2.2 ± 1.1 s (mean, ±90% confidence limits; large difference, very likely), contrasting a possibly faster 2nd lap from 2000 to 2009 (0.5, ±0.4 s; moderate difference). A positive pacing strategy was related to a higher world ranking prior to the championships (r = .94, .84–.98; extremely large, most likely). After 2011, the fastest 100-m sector from 800-m OG and WC medalists was faster than before 2009 by 0.5, ±0.2 m/s (large difference, most likely). Conclusions: A secular change in tactical racing behavior appears evident in 800-m championships; since 2011, medalists have largely run faster 1st laps and have faster 100-m sector-speed requirements. This finding may be pertinent for training, tactical preparation, and talent identification of athletes preparing for 800-m running at OGs and WCs.

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Gareth N. Sandford, Simon A. Rogers, Avish P. Sharma, Andrew E. Kilding, Angus Ross and Paul B. Laursen

Purpose: Anaerobic speed reserve (ASR), defined as the speed range from velocity associated with maximal oxygen uptake (vVO2max) to maximal sprint speed, has recently been shown to be an important tool for middle-distance coaches to meet event surge demands and inform on the complexity of athlete profiles. To enable field application of ASR, the relationship between gun-to-tape 1500-m average speed (1500v) and the vVO2max for the determination of lower landmark of the ASR was assessed in elite middle-distance runners. Methods: A total of 8 national and 4 international middle-distance runners completed a laboratory-measured vVO2max assessment within 6 wk of a nonchampionship 1500-m gun-to-tape race. ASR was calculated using both laboratory-derived vVO2max (ASR-LAB) and 1500v (ASR-1500v), with maximal sprint speed measured using radar technology. Results: 1500v was on average +2.06 ± 1.03 km/h faster than vVO2max (moderate effect, very likely). ASR-LAB and ASR-1500v mean differences were −2.1 ± 1.5 km/h (large effect, very likely). 1500v showed an extremely large relationship with vVO2max, r = .90 ± .12 (most likely). Using this relationship, a linear-regression vVO2max-estimation equation was derived as vVO2max (km/h) = (1500v [km/h] − 14.921)/0.4266. Conclusions: A moderate difference was evident between 1500v and vVO2max in elite middle-distance runners. The present regression equation should be applied for an accurate field prediction of vVO2max from 1500-m gun-to-tape races. These findings have strong practical implications for coaches lacking access to a sports physiology laboratory who seek to monitor and profile middle-distance runners.