To determine the most accurate method based on spectral analysis of heart-rate variability (SA-HRV) during an incremental and continuous maximal test involving the upper body, the authors tested 4 different methods to obtain the heart rate (HR) at the second ventilatory threshold (VT2). Sixteen ski mountaineers (mean ± SD; age 25 ± 3 y, height 177 ± 8 cm, mass 69 ± 10 kg) performed a roller-ski test on a treadmill. Respiratory variables and HR were continuously recorded, and the 4 SA-HRV methods were compared with the gas-exchange method through Bland and Altman analyses. The best method was the one based on a time-varying spectral analysis with high frequency ranging from 0.15 Hz to a cutoff point relative to the individual’s respiratory sinus arrhythmia. The HR values were significantly correlated (r 2 = .903), with a mean HR difference with the respiratory method of 0.1 ± 3.0 beats/min and low limits of agreements (around –6/+6 beats/min). The 3 other methods led to larger errors and lower agreements (up to 5 beats/min and around –23/+20 beats/min). It is possible to accurately determine VT2 with an HR monitor during an incremental test involving the upper body if the appropriate HRV method is used.
Laurent Mourot, Nicolas Fabre, Aldo Savoldelli, and Federico Schena
Thibault Lussiana, Kim Hébert-Losier, Grégoire P. Millet, and Laurent Mourot
The effects of footwear and inclination on running biomechanics over short intervals are well documented. Although recognized that exercise duration can impact running biomechanics, it remains unclear how biomechanics change over time when running in minimalist shoes and on slopes. Our aims were to describe these biomechanical changes during a 50-minute run and compare them to those observed in standard shoes. Thirteen trained recreational male runners ran 50 minutes at 65% of their maximal aerobic velocity on a treadmill, once in minimalist shoes and once in standard shoes, 1 week apart in a random order. The 50-minute trial was divided into 5-minute segments of running at 0%, +5%, and –5% of treadmill incline sequentially. Data were collected using photocells, high-speed video cameras, and plantar-pressure insoles. At 0% incline, runners exhibited reduced leg stiffness and plantar flexion angles at foot strike and lower plantar pressure at the forefoot and toes in minimalist shoes from minute 34 of the protocol onward. However, only reduced plantar pressure at the toes was observed in standard shoes. Overall, similar biomechanical changes with increased exercise time were observed on the uphill and downhill inclines. The results might be due to the unfamiliarity of subjects to running in minimalist shoes.
Gianluca Vernillo, Adrien Mater, Gregory Doucende, Johan Cassirame, and Laurent Mourot
Purpose: To study the consequences of a fatiguing ultratrail run of 6 hours on self-optimizing capability during uphill and downhill (DR) running. Methods: The authors collected temporal stride kinematics and metabolic data in 8 (experimental group) male runners before and after the ultratrail run and in 6 (control group) male ultramarathon runners who did not run but stayed awake and performed normal, daily physical activities avoiding strenuous exercises over the 6-hour period. For each subject, preferred and optimal stride frequencies were measured, where stride frequency was systematically varied above and below the preferred one (±4% and ±8%) while running 3 conditions on level, 5% uphill, or 5% DR in a randomized order. Results: Preferred and optimal stride frequencies across grade, group, and time showed no significant differences (P ≥ .184). Metabolic cost and the energetically optimum metabolic cost showed a grade × group × time interaction (P ≥ .011), with an ∼11% increase in the 2 variables only during the DR bouts (P ≥ .037). Conclusions: Despite maintaining similar dynamics of stride frequency adjustments during the DR bout, the experimental group was not able to optimize its gait. This suggests that the DR section of ultratrail runs can introduce a perturbing factor in the runners’ optimization process, highlighting the need for incorporating DR bouts in the training programs of ultratrail runners to minimize the deleterious effects of DR on the energetically optimal gait.
Nicolas Fabre, Laurent Mourot, Livio Zerbini, Barbara Pellegrini, Lorenzo Bortolan, and Federico Schena
This study tested the hypothesis that the DMAX (for maximal distance) method could be applied to ratings of perceived exertion (RPE), to propose a novel method for individual detection of the lactate threshold (LT) using RPE alone during an incremental test to exhaustion. Twenty-one participants performed an incremental test on a cycle ergometer. At the end of each stage, lactate concentration was measured and the participants estimated RPE using the Borg CR100 scale. The intensity corresponding to the fixed lactate values of 2 or 4 mmol · L−1(2mM and 4mM), the ventilatory threshold (VT), the respiratory-compensation point (RCP), and the instant of equality of pulmonary gas exchange (RER=1.00) were determined. Lactate (DMAX La) and RPE (DMAX RPE) thresholds were determined using the DMAX method. Oxygen uptake (VO2), heart rate, and power output measured at DMAX RPE and at DMAX La were not statistically different. Bland-Altman plots showed small bias and good agreements when DMAX RPE was compared with the DMAX La and RER=1.00 methods (bias = −0.05% and −2% of VO2max, respectively). Conversely, VO2 from the DMAX RPE method was lower than VO2 at 4 mM and at RCP and was higher than VO2 at 2 mM and at VT. VO2 at DMAX RPE was strongly correlated with VO2 at DMAX La (r = .97), at RER=1.00 (r = .97), at 2 mM (r = .85), at 4 mM (r = .93), at VT (r = .95), and at RCP (r = .95). The combination of the DMAX method with the RPE responses permitted precise and individualized estimates of LT using the DMAX method.
Thibault Lussiana, Cyrille Gindre, Kim Hébert-Losier, Yoshimasa Sagawa, Philippe Gimenez, and Laurent Mourot
No unique or ideal running pattern is the most economical for all runners. Classifying the global running patterns of individuals into 2 categories (aerial and terrestrial) using the Volodalen method could permit a better understanding of the relationship between running economy (RE) and biomechanics. The main purpose was to compare the RE of aerial and terrestrial runners.
Two coaches classified 58 runners into aerial (n = 29) or terrestrial (n = 29) running patterns on the basis of visual observations. RE, muscle activity, kinematics, and spatiotemporal parameters of both groups were measured during a 5-min run at 12 km/h on a treadmill. Maximal oxygen uptake (V̇O2max) and peak treadmill speed (PTS) were assessed during an incremental running test.
No differences were observed between aerial and terrestrial patterns for RE, V̇O2max, and PTS. However, at 12 km/h, aerial runners exhibited earlier gastrocnemius lateralis activation in preparation for contact, less dorsiflexion at ground contact, higher coactivation indexes, and greater leg stiffness during stance phase than terrestrial runners. Terrestrial runners had more pronounced semitendinosus activation at the start and end of the running cycle, shorter flight time, greater leg compression, and a more rear-foot strike.
Different running patterns were associated with similar RE. Aerial runners appear to rely more on elastic energy utilization with a rapid eccentric-concentric coupling time, whereas terrestrial runners appear to propel the body more forward rather than upward to limit work against gravity. Excluding runners with a mixed running pattern from analyses did not affect study interpretation.
Laurent Mourot, Nicolas Fabre, Erik Andersson, Sarah Willis, Martin Buchheit, and Hans-Christer Holmberg
Postexercise heart-rate (HR) recovery (HRR) indices have been associated with running and cycling endurance-exercise performance. The current study was designed (1) to test whether such a relationship also exists in the case of cross-country skiing (XCS) and (2) to determine whether the magnitude of any such relationship is related to the intensity of exercise before obtaining HRR indices. Ten elite male cross-country skiers (mean ± SD; 28.2 ± 5.4 y, 181 ± 8 cm, 77.9 ± 9.4 kg, 69.5 ± 4.3 mL · min−1 · kg−1 maximal oxygen uptake [VO2max]) performed 2 sessions of roller-skiing on a treadmill: a 2 × 3-km time trial and the same 6-km at an imposed submaximal speed followed by a final 800-m time trial. VO2 and HR were monitored continuously, while HRR and blood lactate (BLa) were assessed during 2 min immediately after each 6-km and the 800-m time trial. The 6-km time-trial time was largely negatively correlated with VO2max and BLa. On the contrary, there was no clear correlation between the 800-m time-trial time and VO2, HR, or BLa. In addition, in no case was any clear correlation between any of the HRR indices and performance time or VO2max observed. These findings confirm that XCS performance is largely correlated with VO2max and the ability to tolerate high levels of BLa; however, postexercise HRR showed no clear association with performance. The homogeneity of the group of athletes involved and the contribution of the arms and upper body to the exercise preceding determination of HRR may explain this absence of a relationship.