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Jason P. Brandenburg and Luisa V. Giles

reporting positive effects of polyphenol-rich fruit supplementation on endurance performance used cycling as the mode of exercise ( Cook et al., 2015 ; Deley et al., 2017 ; Morgan et al., 2019 ). Running, unlike cycling, places the muscle tendon unit under mechanical stress due to repeated eccentric

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Ian Craig Perkins, Sarah Anne Vine, Sam David Blacker and Mark Elisabeth Theodorus Willems

We examined the effect of New Zealand blackcurrant (NZBC) extract on high-intensity intermittent running and postrunning lactate responses. Thirteen active males (age: 25 ± 4 yrs, height: 1.82 ± 0.07 m, body mass: 81 ± 14 kg, V̇O2max: 56 ± 4 ml∙kg-1∙min-1, v V̇O2max: 17.6 ± 0.8 km∙h-1) performed a treadmill running protocol to exhaustion, which consisted of stages with 6 × 19 s of sprints with 15 s of low-intensity running between sprints. Interstage rest time was 1 min and stages were repeated with increasing sprint speeds. Subjects consumed capsuled NZBC extract (300 mg∙day-1 CurraNZ; containing 105 mg anthocyanin) or placebo for 7 days (double-blind, randomized, crossover design, wash-out at least 14 days). Blood lactate was collected for 30 min postexhaustion. NZBC increased total running distance by 10.6% (NZBC: 4282 ± 833 m, placebo: 3871 ± 622 m, p = .02), with the distance during sprints increased by 10.8% (p = .02). Heart rate, oxygen uptake, lactate and rating of perceived exertion were not different between conditions for the first 4 stages completed by all subjects. At exhaustion, blood lactate tended to be higher for NZBC (NZBC: 6.01 ± 1.07 mmol∙L-1, placebo: 5.22 ± 1.52 mmol∙L-1, p = .07). There was a trend for larger changes in lactate following 15 min (NZBC: -2.89 ± 0.51 mmol∙L-1, placebo: -2.46 ± 0.39 mmol∙L-1, p = .07) of passive recovery. New Zealand blackcurrant extract (CurraNZ) may enhance performance in sports characterized by high-intensity intermittent exercise as greater distances were covered with repeated sprints, there was higher lactate at exhaustion, and larger changes in lactate during early recovery after repeated sprints to exhaustion.

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Jace A. Delaney, Grant M. Duthie, Heidi R. Thornton, Tannath J. Scott, David Gay and Ben J. Dascombe

Rugby league involves frequent periods of high-intensity running including acceleration and deceleration efforts, often occurring at low speeds.

Purpose:

To quantify the energetic cost of running and acceleration efforts during rugby league competition to aid in prescription and monitoring of training.

Methods:

Global positioning system (GPS) data were collected from 37 professional rugby league players across 2 seasons. Peak values for relative distance, average acceleration/deceleration, and metabolic power (Pmet) were calculated for 10 different moving-average durations (1–10 min) for each position. A mixed-effects model was used to assess the effect of position for each duration, and individual comparisons were made using a magnitude-based-inference network.

Results:

There were almost certainly large differences in relative distance and Pmet between the 10-min window and all moving averages <5 min in duration (ES = 1.21–1.88). Fullbacks, halves, and hookers covered greater relative distances than outside backs, edge forwards, and middle forwards for moving averages lasting 2–10 min. Acceleration/deceleration demands were greatest in hookers and halves compared with fullbacks, middle forwards, and outside backs. Pmet was greatest in hookers, halves, and fullbacks compared with middle forwards and outside backs.

Conclusions:

Competition running intensities varied by both position and moving-average duration. Hookers exhibited the greatest Pmet of all positions, due to high involvement in both attack and defense. Fullbacks also reached high Pmet, possibly due to a greater absolute volume of running. This study provides coaches with match data that can be used for the prescription and monitoring of specific training drills.

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Francis Degache, Jean-Benoît Morin, Lukas Oehen, Kenny Guex, Guido Giardini, Federico Schena, Guillaume Y. Millet and Grégoire P. Millet

The aim of study was to examine the effects of the world’s most challenging mountain ultramarathon (Tor des Géants [TdG]) on running mechanics. Mechanical measurements were undertaken in male runners (n = 16) and a control group (n = 8) before (PRE), during (MID), and after (POST) the TdG. Contact (t c) and aerial (t a) times, step frequency (f), and running velocity (v) were sampled. Spring-mass parameters of peak vertical ground-reaction force (F max), vertical downward displacement of the center of mass (Δz), leg-length change (ΔL), and vertical (k vert) and leg (k leg) stiffness were computed. Significant decreases were observed in runners between PRE and MID for t a (P < .001), F max (P < .001), Δz (P < .05), and k leg (P < .01). In contrast, f significantly increased (P < .05) between PRE and MID-TdG. No further changes were observed at POST for any of those variables, with the exception of k leg, which went back to PRE. During the TdG, experienced runners modified their running pattern and spring-mass behavior mainly during the first half. The current results suggest that these mechanical changes aim at minimizing the pain occurring in lower limbs mainly during the eccentric phases. One cannot rule out that this switch to a “safer” technique may also aim to anticipate further damages.

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William P. Ebben

Purpose:

This study evaluated a variety of downhill slopes in an effort to determine the optimal slope for overspeed running.

Methods:

Thirteen NCAA Division III college athletes who participated in soccer, track, and football ran 40-yd (36.6-m) sprints, on downhill slopes of 2.1°, 3.3°, 4.7°, 5.8°, and 6.9° in random order. All sprints were timed using the Brower Timing System Speedtrap II. Data were analyzed with SSPS 15.0. A 1-way repeated-measures analysis of variance revealed significant main effects for the test slopes (P = .000). Bonferroni-adjusted pairwise comparisons determined that there were a number of differences between the hill slopes.

Results:

Analysis reveals that 40-yd sprints performed on hill slopes of approximately 5.8° were optimal compared with flatland running and the other slopes assessed (P < .05). Sprinting on a 5.8° slope increased the subjects’ maximal speed by an average of 0.35 s, resulting in a 6.5% ± 4.0% decrease in 40-yd sprint time compared with fatland running. Compared with the 4.7° slope, the 5.8° slope yielded a 0.10-s faster 40-yd sprint time, resulting in a 1.9% increase in speed.

Conclusions:

Those who train athletes for speed should use or develop overspeed hills with slopes of approximately 5.8° to maximize acute sprinting speed. The results of this study bring into question previous recommendations to use hills of 3° downhill slope for this form of overspeed training.

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Jace A. Delaney, Heidi R. Thornton, John F. Pryor, Andrew M. Stewart, Ben J. Dascombe and Grant M. Duthie

Purpose:

To quantify the duration and position-specific peak running intensities of international rugby union for the prescription and monitoring of specific training methodologies.

Methods:

Global positioning systems (GPS) were used to assess the activity profile of 67 elite-level rugby union players from 2 nations across 33 international matches. A moving-average approach was used to identify the peak relative distance (m/min), average acceleration/deceleration (AveAcc; m/s2), and average metabolic power (Pmet) for a range of durations (1–10 min). Differences between positions and durations were described using a magnitude-based network.

Results:

Peak running intensity increased as the length of the moving average decreased. There were likely small to moderate increases in relative distance and AveAcc for outside backs, halfbacks, and loose forwards compared with the tight 5 group across all moving-average durations (effect size [ES] = 0.27–1.00). Pmet demands were at least likely greater for outside backs and halfbacks than for the tight 5 (ES = 0.86–0.99). Halfbacks demonstrated the greatest relative distance and Pmet outputs but were similar to outside backs and loose forwards in AveAcc demands.

Conclusions:

The current study has presented a framework to describe the peak running intensities achieved during international rugby competition by position, which are considerably higher than previously reported whole-period averages. These data provide further knowledge of the peak activity profiles of international rugby competition, and this information can be used to assist coaches and practitioners in adequately preparing athletes for the most demanding periods of play.

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Nicola Furlan, Mark Waldron, Kathleen Shorter, Tim J. Gabbett, John Mitchell, Edward Fitzgerald, Mark A. Osborne and Adrian J. Gray

Purpose:

To investigate temporal variation in running intensity across and within halves and evaluate the agreement between match-analysis indices used to identify fluctuations in running intensity in rugby sevens.

Methods:

Data from a 15-Hz global positioning system (GPS) were collected from 12 elite rugby sevens players during the IRB World Sevens Series (N = 21 full games). Kinematic (eg, relative distance [RD]) and energetic (eg, metabolic power [MP]) match-analysis indices were determined from velocity–time curves and used to investigate between-halves variations. Mean MP and RD were used to identify peak 2-minute periods of play. Adjacent 2-minute periods (prepeak and postpeak) were compared with peak periods to identify changes in intensity. MP and RD were expressed relative to maximal oxygen uptake (V̇O2max) and speed at V̇O2max, respectively, and compared in their ability to describe the intensity of peak periods and their temporal occurrence.

Results:

Small to moderate reductions were present for kinematic (RD; 8.9%) and energetic (MP; 6%) indices between halves. Peak periods (RD = 130 m/min, MP =13 W/kg) were higher (P < .001) than the match average (RD = 94 m/min, MP = 9.5 W/kg) and the prepeak and postpeak periods (P < .001). RD underestimated the intensity of peak periods compared with MP (bias 16%, limits of agreement [LoA] ± 6%). Peak periods identified by RD and MP were temporally dissociated (bias 21 s, LoA ± 212 s).

Conclusions:

The findings suggest that running intensity varies between and within halves; however, the index used will influence both the magnitude and the temporal identification of peak periods.

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Federico Schena, Barbara Pellegrini, Cantor Tarperi, Elisa Calabria, Gian Luca Salvagno and Carlo Capelli

The effect of a prolonged running trial on the energy cost of running (C r) during a 60-km ultramarathon simulation at the pace of a 100-km competition was investigated in 13 men (40.8 ± 5.6 y, 70.7 ± 5.5 kg, 177.5 ± 4.5 cm) and 5 women (40.4 ± 2.3 y, 53.7 ± 4.4 kg, 162.4 ± 4.8 cm) who participated in a 60-km trial consisting of 3 consecutive 20-km laps. Oxygen uptake (VO2) at steady state was determined at constant speed before the test and at the end of each lap; stride length (SL) and frequency and contact time were measured at the same time points; serum creatine kinase (S-CPK) was measured before and at the end of the test. C r in J · kg−1 · m−1, as calculated from VO2ss and respiratory-exchange ratio, did not increase with distance. SL significantly decreased with distance. The net increase in S-CPK was linearly related with the percentage increase of C r observed during the trial. It is concluded that, in spite of increased S-CPK, this effort was not able to elicit any peripheral or central fatigue or biomechanical adaptation leading to any modification of C r.

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Samuel Ryan, Aaron J. Coutts, Joel Hocking and Thomas Kempton

Purpose:

To examine the influence of a range of individual player characteristics and match-related factors on activity profiles during professional Australian football matches.

Methods:

Global positioning system (GPS) profiles were collected from 34 professional Australian football players from the same club over 15 competition matches. GPS data were classified into relative total and high-speed running (HSR; >20 km/h) distances. Individual player aerobic fitness was determined from a 2-km time trial conducted during the preseason. Each match was classified according to match location, season phase, recovery length, opposition strength, and match outcome. The total number of stoppages during the match was obtained from a commercial statistics provider. A linear mixed model was constructed to examine the influence of player characteristics and match-related factors on both relative total and HSR outputs.

Results:

Player aerobic fitness had a large effect on relative total and HSR distances. Away matches and matches lost produced only small reductions in relative HSR distances, while the number of rotations also had a small positive effect. Matches won, more player rotations, and playing against strong opposition all resulted in small to moderate increases in relative total distance, while early season phase, increased number of stoppages, and away matches resulted in small to moderate reductions in relative total distance.

Conclusions:

There is a likely interplay of factors that influence running performance during Australian football matches. The results highlight the need to consider a variety of contextual factors when interpreting physical output from matches.

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Olivier Girard, Franck Brocherie, Jean-Benoit Morin and Grégoire P. Millet

Purpose:

To determine the intrasession and intersession (ie, within- and between-days) reliability in treadmill sprinting-performance outcomes and associated running mechanics.

Methods:

After familiarization, 13 male recreational sportsmen (team- and racket-sport background) performed three 5-s sprints on an instrumented treadmill with 2 min recovery on 3 different days, 5–7 d apart. Intrasession (comparison of the 3 sprints of the first session) and intersession (comparison of the average of the 3 sprints across days) reliability of performance, kinetics, kinematics, and spring-mass variables were assessed by intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) and coefficients of variation (CV%).

Results:

Intrasession reliability was high (ICC > .94 and CV < 8%). Intersession reliability was good for performance indices (.83 < ICC < .89 and CV < 10%, yet with larger variability for mean velocity than for distance covered or propulsive power) and kinetic parameters (ICC > .94 and CV < 5%, yet with larger variability for mean horizontal forces than for mean vertical forces) and ranged from good to high for all kinematic (.88 < ICC < .95 and CV ≤ 3.5%) and spring-mass variables (.86 < ICC < .99 and CV ≤ 6.5%). Compared with intrasession, minimal detectable differences were on average twice larger for intersession designs, except for sprint kinetics.

Conclusion:

Instrumented treadmill sprint offers a reliable method of assessing running mechanics during single sprints either within the same session or between days.