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Jonathan Watkins, Simon Platt, Erik Andersson and Kerry McGawley


The aim of the current study was to investigate pacing strategies and the distribution of physiological resources in best vs worst performances during a series of 4-min self-paced running time trials (RunTTs).


Five male and 5 female recreational runners (age 32 ± 7 y) completed a submaximal ramp test and 5 RunTTs on a motor-driven treadmill fitted with a speed-controlling laser system. The supramaximal oxygen-uptake (V̇O2) demand was estimated by linear extrapolation from the submaximal relationship between V̇O2 and speed, enabling computation of the accumulated oxygen deficit.


There were no significant differences between the 5 RunTTs for any of the performance, physiological, or subjective responses (P > .05). The trial-to-trial variability in pacing (ie, separate quarters) was typically low, with an average within-athlete coefficient of variation of 3.3%, being highest at the start and end of the 4 min. Total distance covered and distance covered over the first and last 2 min for best and worst performances were 1137 ± 94 and 1090 ± 89 (P < .001), 565 ± 53 and 526 ± 40 m (P = .002), and 572 ± 47 and 565 ± 54 m (P = .346), respectively.


Negative pacing strategies were evident during both the best and the worst performances of the RunTT. Best performances were characterized by more aggressive pacing over the first 2 min compared with worst performances. In addition, the relatively low trial-to-trial variability in running speed suggests that pacing strategies are similar during a series of 4-min self-paced running time trials.