The effect of estimation and production procedures on running economy in recreational athletes

Randomized controlled trial

Faulkner JA, et al. J Sci Med Sport. 2012.


OBJECTIVES: Running economy is an important component in any endurance event. However, the influence of effort perception on running economy has yet to be examined.

DESIGN: The purpose of this study was to assess the oxygen cost of running (running economy) at identical ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) during estimation (EST) and production (PR) procedures, during treadmill exercise.

METHODS: Fourteen, well-trained male participants actively produced (self-regulated) a range of submaximal exercise intensities equating to RPE values 9, 11, 13, 15 and 17, and passively estimated their perception of exertion during an incremental graded-exercise test (GXT). Allometric scaling was used to ensure an appropriate comparison in running economy between conditions.

RESULTS: The present study demonstrated that the overall running economy between conditions was statistically similar (p>0.05). A significant interaction was however identified between Conditions and RPE (p<0.001). The interaction revealed that running economy significantly improved during PR but remained fairly consistent during EST between moderate and high perceptions of exertion (RPE 11-17). Despite similarities in running economy between conditions, physiological (oxygen uptake, heart rate, minute ventilation and blood lactate) and physical (running velocity) markers of exercise intensity were significantly higher during EST for equivalent perceptions of exertion (all p<0.05).

CONCLUSIONS: Passive estimation procedures may improve running economy and enhance athletic performance when compared to identical perceptions of exertion elicited during active production procedures. Athletes, coaches and physical trainers should consider the perceptual procedures utilised during training to ensure that an athlete trains at the most effective training intensity.

Copyright © 2012 Sports Medicine Australia. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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