From the breakthrough studies of dietary carbohydrate and exercise capacity in the 1960s through to the more recent studies of cellular signaling and the adaptive response to exercise in muscle, it has become apparent that manipulations of dietary fat and carbohydrate within training phases, or in the immediate preparation for competition, can profoundly alter the availability and utilization of these major fuels and, subsequently, the performance of endurance sport (events >30 min up to ∼24 hr). A variety of terms have emerged to describe new or nuanced versions of such exercise–diet strategies (e.g., train low, train high, low-carbohydrate high-fat diet, periodized carbohydrate diet). However, the nonuniform meanings of these terms have caused confusion and miscommunication, both in the popular press and among the scientific community. Sports scientists will continue to hold different views on optimal protocols of fuel support for training and competition in different endurance events. However, to promote collaboration and shared discussions, a commonly accepted and consistent terminology will help to strengthen hypotheses and experimental/experiential data around various strategies. We propose a series of definitions and explanations as a starting point for a more unified dialogue around acute and chronic manipulations of fat and carbohydrate in the athlete’s diet, noting philosophies of approaches rather than a single/definitive macronutrient prescription. We also summarize some of the key questions that need to be tackled to help produce greater insight into this exciting area of sports nutrition research and practice.
Louise M. Burke, John A. Hawley, Asker Jeukendrup, James P. Morton, Trent Stellingwerff, and Ronald J. Maughan
Maria Heikkilä, Raisa Valve, Mikko Lehtovirta, and Mikael Fogelholm
The nutrition knowledge of athletes and coaches is often inadequate. However, athletes need sufficient knowledge of this subject to understand the importance of food choices for their athletic performance, recovery, and overall health. Adequate nutrition knowledge and skills are important for coaches because they are often the most significant source of nutrition knowledge for their athletes. Most previous nutrition knowledge studies have been carried out in team sports and outside Scandinavia. The aim of this study, therefore, was to evaluate the nutrition knowledge of Finnish endurance athletes (156 males and 156 females; age = 17.9 ± 1.2 years) and their coaches (69 males and 25 females; age = 44.3 ± 12.3 years). The three main sports among the participants were cross-country skiing (n = 53 coaches and n = 111 athletes), orienteering (n = 13 and n = 110), and biathlon (n = 6 and n = 38). On average, the coaches (N = 94) answered 81% ± 9% of the 79 nutrition questionnaire items correctly, whereas the respective result was 73% ± 9% among the athletes (N = 312). The coaches had significantly (p < .001) better nutrition knowledge of all the five subcategories of the questionnaire, whereas the “dietary supplements” and “nutrition recommendations for endurance athletes” subcategories appeared particularly difficult for the athletes. The average nutrition knowledge score of athletes was relatively low. As nutrition knowledge may have a positive association with athletes’ food choices and subsequent dietary intake, Finnish endurance athletes and coaches would benefit from enhanced nutrition education.
Judy L. Van Raalte, Ruth Brennan Morrey, Allen E. Cornelius, and Britton W. Brewer
Much of the research on self-talk in sport has focused on the effects of assigned self-talk (e.g., instructional self-talk, motivational self-talk) on the performance of laboratory tasks and/or tasks of short duration (Hatzigeorgiadis, Zourbanos, Galanis, & Theodorakis, 2011; Tod, Hardy, & Oliver, 2011). The purpose of this study was to explore more fully the self-talk of athletes involved in competition over an extended period of time. Marathon runners (N = 483) were surveyed. The majority (88%) of runners, those who indicated that they use self-talk during marathons, completed open-ended items describing their self-talk while competing. Runners reported using a rich variety of motivational self-talk as well as spiritual self-talk and mantras, types of self-talk less widely studied in the literature. Given the findings of this research, future studies exploring self-talk use during competition in sporting events of long duration seems warranted.
There is evidence that an individual with a higher level of self-efficacy will persist longer and be more robust in their efforts than an individual with a lower level of self-efficacy (Feltz et al., 2008). As such, it follows that a high level of self-efficacy would be essential in a strenuous activity such as distance running. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to explore the evolution of efficacy beliefs over the course of a training program by following 26 participants training for a marathon. Participants completed individual interviews at three different time points throughout the training and that were analyzed for content relevant to the formation of efficacy beliefs for the marathon. Overall, the findings indicated that physiological/emotional states were the most frequently mentioned source of information throughout the duration of the experience. Further, the influence of past performance experiences gradually increased throughout the duration of the program.
Ed Maunder, Andrew E. Kilding, Christopher J. Stevens, and Daniel J. Plews
A common practice among endurance athletes is to purposefully train in hot environments during a “heat stress camp.” However, combined exercise-heat stress poses threats to athlete well-being, and therefore, heat stress training has the potential to induce maladaptation. This case study describes the monitoring strategies used in a successful 3-week heat stress camp undertaken by 2 elite Ironman triathletes, namely resting heart rate variability, self-report well-being, and careful prescription of training based on previously collected physiological data. Despite the added heat stress, training volume very likely increased in both athletes, and training load very likely increased in one of the athletes, while resting heart rate variability and self-report well-being were maintained. There was also some evidence of favorable metabolic changes during routine laboratory testing following the camp. The authors therefore recommend that practitioners working with endurance athletes embarking on a heat stress training camp consider using the simple strategies employed in the present case study to reduce the risk of maladaptation and nonfunctional overreaching.
Matthew Lamont and Sheranne Fairley
Mile contradicts the “endurance sport character.” Literature Review Collective Behaviour: Social Worlds and Subworlds While terminology has been inconsistent, terms including communities, brand communities, social worlds, and subcultures have all been used to describe communities of interest around a
Jules Woolf, Bob Heere, and Matthew Walker
Given the ubiquity of charitable organizations and the events used to solicit donations for a cause, many charity-based organizations are continually looking for ways to expand their fundraising efforts. In this quest, many have added endurance sport events to their fundraising portfolios. Anecdotally, we know that building long-term and meaningful relationships with current (and potential) donors is critical for a nonprofit organization’s success. However, there is a paucity of research regarding whether these charity sport events serve as relationship-building mechanisms (i.e., ‘brandfests’) to assist in developing attachments to the charity. The purpose of this mixed-methods investigation was to explore to what extent a charity sport event served as a brandfest to foster a sense of identity with the charity. For this particular case study, the charity event had little effect on participants’ relationship with the charity.
Gregoire P. Millet, David J. Bentley, and Veronica E. Vleck
The relationships between sport sciences and sports are complex and changeable, and it is not clear how they reciprocally influence each other. By looking at the relationship between sport sciences and the “new” (~30-year-old) sport of triathlon, together with changes in scientific fields or topics that have occurred between 1984 and 2006 (278 publications), one observes that the change in the sport itself (eg, distance of the events, wetsuit, and drafting) can influence the specific focus of investigation. The sport-scientific fraternity has successfully used triathlon as a model of prolonged strenuous competition to investigate acute physiological adaptations and trauma, as support for better understanding cross-training effects, and, more recently, as a competitive sport with specific demands and physiological features. This commentary discusses the evolution of the scientific study of triathlon and how the development of the sport has affected the nature of scientific investigation directly related to triathlon and endurance sport in general.
Jaakko Kaprio and Seppo Sarna
Occupational disability was investigated in former Finnish athletes in the Olympic Games, World or European championships, or intercountry competitions during 1920–1965 (N = 2,402 men) for eight selected sports. The referents were 1,712 men selected from the Finnish conscription register, matched on age and area of residence and classified as completely healthy. The first outcome measure was the length of working life based on the age when the subject was granted a disability pension, or age at death before age 65. The Kaplan-Meier estimate of mean working life expectancy was 61.4 years for endurance sport athletes, 60.0 years for team games athletes, and 59.2 years for power sport competitors, compared with 57.6 years for the reference group. Decreased coronary artery disease and cerebrovascular and respiratory morbidity were observed for all athletes when compared with the referent group. It was concluded that sustained and vigorous physical activity during early adulthood may extend the occupationally active life span and defer the onset of disability before retirement age.
Øyvind Sandbakk and Hans-Christer Holmberg
Cross-country (XC) skiing has been an Olympic event since the first Winter Games in Chamonix, France, in 1924. Due to more effective training and tremendous improvements in equipment and track preparation, the speed of Olympic XC-ski races has increased more than that of any other Olympic endurance sport. Moreover, pursuit, mass-start, and sprint races have been introduced. Indeed, 10 of the 12 current Olympic competitions in XC skiing involve mass starts, in which tactics play a major role and the outcome is often decided in the final sprint. Accordingly, reappraisal of the success factors for performance in this context is required. The very high aerobic capacity (VO2max) of many of today’s world-class skiers is similar that of their predecessors. At the same time, the new events provide more opportunities to profit from anaerobic capacity, upper-body power, high-speed techniques, and “tactical flexibility.” The wide range of speeds and slopes involved in XC skiing requires skiers to continuously alternate between and adapt different subtechniques during a race. This technical complexity places a premium on efficiency. The relative amounts of endurance training performed at different levels of intensity have remained essentially constant during the past 4 decades. However, in preparation for the Sochi Olympics in 2014, XC skiers are performing more endurance training on roller skis on competition-specific terrain, placing greater focus on upper-body power and more systematically performing strength training and skiing at high speeds than previously.