Stride-to-stride fluctuations in running-stride interval display long-range correlations that break down in the presence of fatigue accumulated during an exhaustive run. The purpose of the study was to investigate whether long-range correlations in running-stride interval were reduced by fatigue accumulated during prolonged exposure to a high training load (functional overreaching) and were associated with decrements in performance caused by functional overreaching.
Ten trained male runners completed 7 d of light training (LT7), 14 d of heavy training (HT14) designed to induce a state of functional overreaching, and 10 d of light training (LT10) in a fixed order. Running-stride intervals and 5-km time-trial (5TT) performance were assessed after each training phase. The strength of long-range correlations in running-stride interval was assessed at 3 speeds (8, 10.5, and 13 km/h) using detrended fluctuation analysis.
Relative to performance post-LT7, time to complete the 5TT was increased after HT14 (+18 s; P < .05) and decreased after LT10 (–20 s; P = .03), but stride-interval long-range correlations remained unchanged at HT14 and LT10 (P > .50). Changes in stride-interval long-range correlations measured at a 10.5-km/h running speed were negatively associated with changes in 5TT performance (r –.46; P = .03).
Runners who were most affected by the prolonged exposure to high training load (as evidenced by greater reductions in 5TT performance) experienced the greatest reductions in stride-interval long-range correlations. Measurement of stride-interval long-range correlations may be useful for monitoring the effect of high training loads on athlete performance.