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  • Author: Naroa Etxebarria x
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Sabrina Skorski, Naroa Etxebarria and Kevin G. Thompson

Purpose:

To investigate if swimming performance is better in a relay race than in the corresponding individual race.

Methods:

The authors analyzed 166 elite male swimmers from 15 nations in the same competition (downloaded from www.swimrankings.net). Of 778 observed races, 144 were Olympic Games performances (2000, 2004, 2012), with the remaining 634 performed in national or international competitions. The races were 100-m (n = 436) and 200-m (n = 342) freestyle events. Relay performance times for the 2nd–4th swimmers were adjusted (+ 0.73 s) to allow for the “flying start.”

Results:

Without any adjustment, mean individual relay performances were significantly faster for the first 50 m and overall time in the 100-m events. Furthermore, the first 100 m of the 200-m relay was significantly faster (P > .001). During relays, swimmers competing in 1st position did not show any difference compared with their corresponding individual performance (P > .16). However, swimmers competing in 2nd–4th relay-team positions demonstrated significantly faster times in the 100-m (P < .001) and first half of the 200-m relays than in their individual events (P < .001, ES: 0.28–1.77). However, when finishing times for 2nd–4th relay team positions were adjusted for the flying start no differences were detected between relay and individual race performance for any event or split time (P > .17).

Conclusion:

Highly trained swimmers do not swim (or turn) faster in relay events than in their individual races. Relay exchange times account for the difference observed in individual vs relay performance.

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Naroa Etxebarria, Megan L. Ross, Brad Clark and Louise M. Burke

Purpose: The authors investigated the potential benefit of ingesting 2 mM of quinine (bitter tastant) on a 3000-m cycling time-trial (TT) performance. Methods: Nine well-trained male cyclists (maximal aerobic power: 386 [38] W) performed a maximal incremental cycling ergometer test, three 3000-m familiarization TTs, and four 3000-m intervention TTs (∼4 min) on consecutive days. The 4 interventions were (1) 25 mL of placebo, (2) a 25-mL sweet solution, and (3) and (4) repeat 25 mL of 2-mM quinine solutions (Bitter1 and Bitter2), 30 s before each trial. Participants self-selected their gears and were only aware of distance covered. Results: Overall mean power output for the full 3000 m was similar for all 4 conditions: placebo, 348 (45) W; sweet, 355 (47) W; Bitter1, 354 (47) W; and Bitter2, 355 (48) W. However, quinine administration in Bitter1 and Bitter2 increased power output during the first kilometer by 15 ± 11 W and 21 ± 10 W (mean ± 90% confidence limits), respectively, over placebo, followed by a decay of 34 ± 32 W during Bitter1 and Bitter2 during the second kilometer. Bitter2 also induced a 11 ± 13-W increase during the first kilometer compared with the sweet condition. Conclusions: Ingesting 2 mM of quinine can improve cycling performance during the first one-third of a 3000-m TT and could be used for sporting events lasting ∼80 s to potentially improve overall performance.

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Naroa Etxebarria, Shaun D’Auria, Judith M. Anson, David B. Pyne and Richard A. Ferguson

Purpose:

The patterns of power output in the ~1-h cycle section of Olympic-distance triathlon races are not well documented. Here the authors establish a typical cycling-race profile derived from several International Triathlon Union elite-level draftinglegal triathlon races.

Methods:

The authors collated 12 different race power profiles from elite male triathletes (N = 5, age 25 ± 5 y, body mass 65.5 ± 5.6 kg; mean ± SD) during 7 international races. Power output was recorded using SRM cranks and analyzed with proprietary software.

Results:

The mean power output was 252 ± 33 W, or 3.9 ± 0.5 W/kg in relative terms, with a coefficient of variation of 71% ± 13%. Normalized power (power output an athlete could sustain if intensity were maintained constant without any variability) for the entire cycle section was 291 ± 29 W, or 40 ± 13 W higher than the actual mean power output. There were 34 ± 14 peaks of power output above 600 W and ~18% time spent at >100% of maximal aerobic power.

Conclusion:

Cycling during Olympic-distance triathlon, characterized by frequent and large power variations including repeat supramaximal efforts, equates to a higher workload than cycling at constant power.

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Naroa Etxebarria, Judith M. Anson, David B. Pyne and Richard A. Ferguson

Purpose:

To determine how cycling with a variable (triathlon-specific) power distribution affects subsequent running performance and quantify relationships between an individual cycling power profile and running ability after cycling.

Methods:

Twelve well-trained male triathletes (VO2peak 4.9 ± 0.5 L/min; mass 73.5 ± 7.7 kg; mean ± SD) undertook a cycle VO2peak and maximal aerobic power (MAP) test and a power profile involving 6 maximal efforts (6 s to 10 min). Each subject then performed 2 experimental 1-h cycle trials, both at a mean power of 65% MAP, at either variable power (VAR) ranging from 40% to 140% MAP or constant power (CON) followed by an outdoor 9.3-km time-trial run. Subjects also completed a control 9.3-km run with no preceding exercise.

Results:

The 9.3-km run time was 42 ± 37 s slower (mean ± 90% confidence limits [CL]) after VAR (35:32 ± 3:18 min:s, mean ± SD) compared with CON cycling (34:50 ± 2:49 min:s). This decrement after VAR appeared primarily in the first half of the run (35 ± 20 s; mean ± 90% CL). Higher blood lactate and rating of perceived exertion after 1 h VAR cycling were moderately correlated (r = .51–.55; ± ~.40) with a larger decrement in run performance. There were no clear associations between the power-profile test and decrement in run time after VAR compared with CON.

Conclusions:

A highly variable power distribution in cycling is likely to impair 10-km triathlon run performance. Training to lower physiological and perceptual responses during cycling should limit the negative effects on triathlon running.