Pacing accuracy in collegiate and recreational runners

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Department or Administrative Unit

Nutrition Exercise and Health Sciences

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To examine runners’ ability to produce a prescribed pace, we compared prescribed versus actual 400 m splits for collegiate (COL, n = 12) and recreational runners (REC, n = 16). Participants completed a VO2max trial and on a 400 m track, three 3,200 m time trials. During three subsequent sessions, participants completed 800 m warm-up; then, based on their fastest 3,200 m steady pace, subjects completed six laps total at three prescribed paces: (a) 2× 400 m at 7% slower than steady pace (SLO), (b) 2× 400 m at steady pace (AT) and (c) 2× 400 m at 7% faster than steady pace (FAS). Instructions were to complete the sets of two laps in prescribed times (e.g., 75 s per 400 m) (no feedback). Deviation scores (absolute value of difference: prescribed vs. actual time) (s) for each 400 m lap were compared using a 2 (group) × 3 (trial) repeated measures ANOVA. Main effects for deviations among trials SLO (7.3 ± 6.5), AT (6.6 ± 6.9) and FAS (6.2 ± 5.7) were not significantly different (p > 0.05). However, group main effect for deviation scores was significantly (p < 0.05) lower (greater accuracy) for COL (2.9 ± 3.2 s) versus REC (9.5 ± 6.6 s). Deviation scores were also significantly different (p < 0.05) for SLO (COL: 3.1 ± 2.7 s, REC: 10.4 ± 6.7 s) and AT (COL: 1.9 ± 1.9 s, REC: 10.1 ± 7.2 s), with a trend for FAS (p = 0.06) (COL: 3.8 ± 4.3 s, REC: 7.9 ± 6.1 s). Bland–Altman plots showed better agreement (prescribed vs. actual) for COL. Experience and fitness of collegiate runners resulted in improved pacing accuracy.


This article was originally published in European Journal of Applied Physiology. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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European Journal of Applied Physiology


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