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Background: Elite sport is continuously evolving. World records keep falling and athletes from a longer list of countries are involved. Purpose: This commentary was designed to provide insights into present and future trends associated with world-class endurance training based on the perspectives, experience, and knowledge of an expert panel of 25 applied sport scientists. Results: The key drivers of development observed in the past 10-15 years were related to (1) more accessible scientific knowledge for coaches and athletes combined with (2) better integration of practical and scientific exchange across multidisciplinary perspectives within professionalized elite athlete support structures, as well as (3) utilization of new technological advances. Based on these perspectives, we discerned and exemplified the main trends in the practice of endurance sports into the following categories: better understanding of sport-specific demands; improved competition execution; larger, more specific, and more precise training loads; improved training quality; and a more professional and healthier lifestyle. The main areas expected to drive future improvements were associated with more extensive use of advanced technology for monitoring and prescribing training and recovery, more precise use of environmental and nutritional interventions, better understanding of athlete-equipment interactions, and greater emphasis on preventing injuries and illnesses. Conclusions: These expert insights can serve as a platform and inspiration to develop new hypotheses and ideas, encourage future collaboration between researchers and sport practitioners, and, perhaps most important, stimulate curiosity and further collaborative studies about the training, physiology, and performance of endurance athletes.
The Evolution of World-Class Endurance Training:
The Scientists View on Current and Future Trends
Øyvind Sandbakk,
David B. Pyne,
Kerry McGawley,
Carl Foster,
Rune Kjøsen Talsnes,
Guro Strøm Solli,
Grégoire P. Millet,
Stephen Seiler,
Paul B. Laursen,
Thomas Haugen,
Espen Tønnessen,
Randy Wilber,
Teun van Erp,
Trent Stellingwerff,
Hans-Christer Holmberg,
and Silvana Bucher Sandbakk
Center for Elite Sports Research, Department of Neuromedicine and Movement Science, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway;
Research Institute for Sport and Exercise, University of Canberra, Canberra, ACT, Australia;
Swedish Winter Sports Research Center, Department of Health Sciences,
Mid Sweden University, Östersund, Sweden;
Department of Exercise and Sport Science, University of WisconsinLa Crosse, La Crosse, WI, USA;
Department of Sports Science and Physical Education, Nord University, Bodø, Norway;
Institute of Sport Sciences, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland;
Department of Sport Science and Physical Education, University of Agder, Kristiansand, Norway;
Sports Performance and Athlete Development Environments
(SPADE), University of Agder, Kristiansand, Norway;
Sports Performance Research Institute New Zealand (SPRINZ), AUT University, Auckland, New Zealand;
School of Health Sciences, Kristiania University College, Oslo, Norway;
United States Olympic Committee, Colorado Springs, CO, USA;
Division of Movement Science and Exercise Therapy (MSET), Department of Exercise, Sport and Lifestyle Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences,
Stellenbosch University, Tygerberg, South Africa;
Canadian Sport InstitutePacic, Victoria, BC, Canada;
Department of Health Sciences,
Luleå University of Technology, Luleå, Sweden;
School of Kinesiology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada;
Department of Teacher Education, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway
Background:Elite sport is continuously evolving. World records keep falling and athletes from a longer list of countries are
involved. Purpose:This commentary was designed to provide insights into present and future trends associated with world-class
endurance training based on the perspectives, experience, and knowledge of an expert panel of 25 applied sport scientists.
Results:The key drivers of development observed in the past 1015 years were related to (1) more accessible scientic
knowledge for coaches and athletes combined with (2) better integration of practical and scientic exchange across multi-
disciplinary perspectives within professionalized elite athlete support structures, as well as (3) utilization of new technological
advances. Based on these perspectives, we discerned and exemplied the main trends in the practice of endurance sports into the
following categories: better understanding of sport-specic demands; improved competition execution; larger, more specic, and
more precise training loads; improved training quality; and a more professional and healthier lifestyle. The main areas expected to
drive future improvements were associated with more extensive use of advanced technology for monitoring and prescribing
training and recovery, more precise use of environmental and nutritional interventions, better understanding of athlete
equipment interactions, and greater emphasis on preventing injuries and illnesses. Conclusions:These expert insights can serve
as a platform and inspiration to develop new hypotheses and ideas, encourage future collaboration between researchers and sport
practitioners, and, perhaps most important, stimulate curiosity and further collaborative studies about the training, physiology,
and performance of endurance athletes.
Keywords:athlete health, endurance performance, sport technology, training intensity, training load, training quality
Elite sport is continuously evolving, as illustrated by world
records being broken and the involvement of a greater diversity of
countries and athletes, driving improvements in athletic perfor-
mance. Explanations for this continued performance evolution are
multifaceted, and likely include the optimization of athlete training
and competitive periodization, as well as recent advancements in
technologies, equipment, and scientic knowledge, all accessible
to larger audiences. However, research on elite athletes is often
constrained by underlying challenges, such as interruptions to
coaching and training programs, as well as limitations in the type,
quality, or applicability of research studies that can be executed
with elite performers. To gain complementary insight into current
and future trends associated with world-class endurance training,
this commentary is based on the perspectives, experience, and
knowledge of an expert panel of applied sports scientists.
To capture key insights about the evolution of endurance training
and performance, we solicited and aggregated expert judgments
through a structured elicitation protocol. In the rst step, 2 ques-
tions were posed by the rst and last author to an expert panel of
25 acknowledged sport scientists (5 women and 20 men) with
van Erp
Bucher Sandbakk
Sandbakk ( is corresponding author,
International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, (Ahead of Print)
© 2023 Human Kinetics, Inc. INVITED COMMENTARY
First Published Online: June 27, 2023
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experiences of working closely with world-leading endurance
athletes and coaches over the last decade(s). Collectively, this
multinational panel had multidisciplinary (ie, exercise physiology,
biomechanics, sports analytics, nutrition, and sports medicine)
experience of working with male and female athletes from 15
different nations and representing all Olympic endurance sports.
The 2 questions were: (1) What are the most important trends
related directly or indirectly to the training and improved perfor-
mance of the worlds best endurance athletes during the past
1015 years? and (2) Which advances will contribute to further
improving endurance performance during the next 1015 years?
To allow diversity of opinion, all scientists were asked to prioritize
3 key points for each question individually, and to explain and
exemplify their choices. Consent was given on the basis that replies
could be used for the purpose of this commentary.
In the next steps, all responses were aggregated into initial
thematic categories by the rst and last author. Iterative renement
was undertaken by facilitated negotiation and discussion over
email among all authors, until nal consensus on main categories,
as well as representative examples and explanations was reached.
Recent and Contemporary Trends
in Endurance Training
To address recent and contemporary trends, the answers to the rst
question were categorized into 2 dimensions: the underlying
mechanisms driving the development (the why) and the effects
of these factors on sport practices (the what).
A main driver of development in endurance training methods
was more relevant scientic knowledge accessible to coaches and
athletes, combined with better integration and exchange of practi-
cal and scientic knowledge. In this context, easier access to
scientic and experience-based knowledge through open-access
journals, media (eg, popular science articles, podcasts, Twitter,
Instagram, YouTube, etc), and various other communication chan-
nels (eg, conferences/summits, webinars, workshops, personal
conversations, etc) has facilitated faster and wider learning and
possibly more effective implementation into sport practice. Two
potential challenges associated with effective utilization of publicly
available information are (1) the ability to lter useful versus less
useful content and (2) translation of this specic information into a
holistic training process. This translation process will require close
collaboration between athletes, coaches, and various domain
Another main driver was the implementation of technological
advances, with better equipment and more validated tools/wear-
ables for monitoring and analyzing training, performance, and
recovery. The sports science laboratory has moved out to the
roads, tracks, pools, lakes, trails, rivers, and mountains where
endurance athletes train daily. A critical challenge in this context
is to assure that the continuously collected data stream is as reliable
and valid as possible.
Elite athlete health and performance support structures are
now often organized in multidisciplinary centers or teams. This was
regarded as a complementary factor facilitating effective imple-
mentation of the extended knowledge and new technological
solutions into the holistic training, competition, and performance
process. High-performance sports directors (or equivalent) and
coaches are, in general, now more well-educated in coaching
and/or sports science. In addition, they are more open to the
potential benets of multi- and intradisciplinary collaboration
among athletes, coaches, scientists, and other experts.
Based on these driving factors, we discerned 5 important
trends in the practice of endurance sports that have evolved over
the last 1015 years.
Better Understanding of Sport-Specic Demands
A more interdisciplinary and integrated understanding of physio-
logical, technical, tactical, nutritional, and mental aspects underly-
ing performance, on the basis of optimal mental and physical
health, has evolved in sports.
For example, different exercise
modes can elicit highly distinct metabolic, mechanical, and mus-
cular loading, which can have signicant consequences for training
and recovery processes.
In this context, the technological possi-
bility to measure performance, training load, and recovery under
ecologically valid conditions, in combination with advanced per-
formance modeling, has extended our understanding beyond the
traditional performance-determining factors.
Examples of com-
plementary concepts are the impact of resilience/durability during
long-duration exercise,
or the implementation of various models
describing aerobic and anaerobic kinetics during intermittent exer-
cise. A better understanding of nutritional strategies has also played
a signicant role both for optimizing performance, and sustainable
tolerance and execution of high daily training loads. This may
include optimal carbohydrate intake (daily, and during training,
and competition)
and associated nutritional periodization to meet
the demands of the sport.
Improved Competition Execution
More accurate technological measures of performance and
advanced performance models have improved pacing strategies,
as well as the ability of each athlete (and their coaches) to identify
and focus on his/her own individual strengths and weaknesses.
Examples of this are the extensive use of various wearable devices,
such as power meters, global positioning/navigation satellite sys-
tems, and inertial movement units in many sports.
With the
combination of machine learning and domain competence, these
developments have provided new insights in many sports, although
the practical and ethical challenges of accumulating and processing
large sets of personal data should also be acknowledged.
Without doubt, improved equipment has been vital for perfor-
mance development in many endurance sports, with the clap skate
in speed skating,
carbon ber use in cycling, rowing, kayak, and
paralympic events, and super-shoesin running
being primary
examples. Another factor is improved preparation strategies for
competitions held in different environmental conditions such as
altitude and the heat.
Furthermore, sport-specic and individual-
ized nutritional intake during competitions (eg, carbohydrate intake
and the use of various ergogenic aids)
was highlighted by
many of the respondents.
Larger, More Specic, and More Precise
Training Loads
Many of the scientists on the expert panel highlighted that world-
leading endurance athletes now perform and tolerate higher train-
ing volumes than previously recorded. However, others had
observed more precise and calculated training models, allowing
a higher volume or density of competition-specic training. In both
cases, the detection of individualized sweet-spotswith respect to
training volume and intensity, as well as individualized training
intensity distribution, and more detailed monitoring, and analysis
of capacity developments were highlighted as success criteria. One
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of the trends observed by many of the scientists was more of the
intense training being performed in a controlled zone,thereby
allowing higher volume and/or frequency of sessions at competi-
tion-relevant speeds.
However, the specic changes in training
patterns, as well as the underlying mechanisms, need to be veried
for different endurance sports.
The following aspects were highlighted as the main facilitators
for athletes accumulating higher training volumes or competition-
specic loads: shorter transition/recovery periods between the
competition period and the following macrocycle, higher training
loads both early in the training year and during the competition
period, and more conscious periodization and load-recovery moni-
toring. Other key factors allowing more precise training loads
included improved training facilities (eg, better roller-ski tracks
for cross-country skiers and biathletes, and more indoor tracks in
cycling, athletics and speed skating), and improved equipment. In
addition, more advanced injury prevention measures seem to
provide better continuity of training.
More women worldwide now have the possibility to train and
compete professionally in endurance sports, with a higher status of
female competitions, more nancial support, and better coaching
available to female athletes. In addition, many sporting environments
now possess greater awareness of, and willingness to communicate
about, aspects of female physiology and health (eg, the inuence of
the menstrual cycle,
hormonal contraception,
and pregnancy/
), and their potential impact on training and perfor-
mance. With the increase in professional opportunities for female
athletes, and an improved understanding of the specic challenges
facing women in elite sport, larger, more specic, and/or precise
training loads are particularly observed in female athletes.
Finally, several respondents highlighted that more systematic
inclusion of environmental stressors, such as altitude
and heat,
periodized in the training process has become more common,
particularly when preparing for events held under challenging
climatic conditions.
Improved Training Quality
Factors associated with improved training quality
highlighted by many of the respondents. This list included both
the quality of the holistic training process, performed in close
cooperation between athletes, coaches, and multidisciplinary sup-
port teams, as well as better planning, execution, and debrieng
routines of single training sessions. One key factor for the latter
dimension was more precise and disciplined intensity control,
facilitated by greater awareness of how the variables of exercise
prescription inuence training tolerance and load, as well as better
technologies to monitor these features in various conditions.
Another example was use of better equipment in training, such
as super shoeswith new age foams that allow for better cush-
ioning and recovery, thereby facilitating more training at high
speeds. Such developments may also contribute to narrowing the
gap between training prescription and execution.
Improved training quality was also associated with more
individualized training in terms of load prescription, microperio-
dization, and daily session programming. For example, implemen-
tation of strength and power training based on individual proling
in relation to the physiological and technical requirements of each
sport is now much more advanced in sport practice. Such individual
proling, in combination with systematic monitoring of training
and testing, provides important objective information concerning
how training is executed and the corresponding adaptations. In
addition, the role of the coach and multidisciplinary support staff in
using such information to prepare and debrief the athlete system-
atically, as well as how the support staff work synergistically with
coaches and athletes,
were also highlighted as having a positive
inuence on training quality and performance.
A More Professional and Healthier Lifestyle
Employing a more holistic approach to athlete development, by
understanding and considering all factors inuencing their lives,
has beneted both individual and team-sport athletes.
professionalization of many sports has enabled athletes to pursue a
full-time athletic career, which can create a healthier lifestyle
through enhanced recovery. More knowledge and greater aware-
ness of injury prevention and health management strategies are
argued as important for facilitating the continuity and sustainability
of training, as well as prolonging the careers of elite athletes.
example, greater knowledge and awareness of the importance of
energy availability, periodized and individualized nutrition, and
sleep have contributed to improved recovery.
The same paradigm
applies to the inclusion of systematic monitoring of recovery
parameters such as resting heart rate, heart rate variability, and
sleep metrics as part of the monitoring systems. In addition, greater
focus on the mental health of athletes
and coaches
was regarded
as imperative.
Future Trends in Endurance Training
The expert panel generally expected the factors underpinning
improved endurance training and performance to continue to
evolve in the upcoming 1015 years. However, some perennial
aspects of endurance training received particular attention, and a
few new aspects were highlighted as key areas for improvement in
the future.
First, more extensive and reliable use of advanced technology
for evidence-based monitoring of training, recovery, and perfor-
mance is expected. Importantly, these technologies and the insights
they provide must be combined in a holistic, sport-specic, and
integrated fashion with the individual athletes own developmental
needs. This approach will likely allow more effective individuali-
zation of training. In this context, articial intelligence and its
associated opportunities are evolving very quickly and may permit
individualized prescription of training; for example, when com-
bined with innovative, noninvasive technologies assessing muscle
ber types and other important individual physiological character-
istics. As part of this process, more detailed knowledge about how
to precisely use combinations of training loads, environmental
stressors, and nutritional interventions to optimize physiological
adaptations and performance is expected. Furthermore, a more
advanced understanding of athleteequipment interactions leading
to greater tolerance of sport-specic training and improved perfor-
mance is also suggested as a future trend.
A greater emphasis on the prevention of health problems
allow more athletes to train with continuity over longer durations
and this is clearly an area with further possibilities for improve-
ment. A greater focus on female athletes also creates opportunities
for future improvement,
especially given the historical lack of
knowledge and support that has likely limited performance devel-
opment and career longevity in this population. Programs designed
to prevent injuries, illnesses, Relative Energy Deciency in Sport,
and/or eating disorders and other unhealthy behaviors need to be
customized, ne-tuned, and implemented broadly. Aspects relating
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to the preservation of mental health are also expected to receive
more attention over the coming years. Overall, a more comprehen-
sive approach to optimizing and maintaining good athlete health
should permit more athletes to attain their full potential.
Finally, the continuous development and adjustment of sport
science curriculums within universities and federations in many
countries will translate to improved scientic knowledge among
coaches, athletes, and practitioners, facilitating greater transfer of
knowledge within and between multidisciplinary teams.
Practical Applications and Conclusions
From the perspective of an expert panel of 25 applied sport
scientists, this commentary has facilitated the sharing of ideas,
experience, and knowledge between individuals involved in a
variety of endurance sports, research areas, and athletic communi-
ties. These insights are summarized in Table 1and can serve as a
platform and inspiration for developing new hypotheses, encour-
age future collaboration between researchers and sport practi-
tioners, and, perhaps most importantly, stimulate curiosity and
fruitful collaborative studies about the training, physiology, health,
and performance of endurance athletes. It would be highly enlight-
ening to pose these same questions to elite-level athletes, coaches,
and support staff within different sports and nations. Although
most of the content in this commentary should be relevant both for
Olympic and Paralympic endurance sports, the evolution of para-
specic aspects should be further explored in upcoming studies.
The rst author of this commentary is the editor of the International
Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, and several of the
authors are associate editors or editorial board members of the journal.
Laursen is cofounder of HIIT Science Inc and Athletica Inc. The
possibility of publication bias was discussed critically and evaluated
among editors, and none of the authors, including those with editorial
roles, had the opportunity to inuence the independent review process.
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Table 1 Summary of the Present and Future Trends Associated With World-Class Endurance Training Based
on the Perspectives, Experience, and Knowledge of an Expert Panel of 25 Applied Sport Scientists
Key drivers of development observed
in the past 1015 y
Main trends in the practice of
endurance sports in the past 1015 y
Main areas expected to drive future
More accessible scientic knowledge for
coaches and athletes
Better integration of practical and scientic
knowledge exchange across
multidisciplinary perspectives within
professionalized elite athlete support
Utilization of new technological advances
Better understanding of sport-specic
Improved competition execution
Larger, more specic, and precise training
Improved training quality
A more professional and healthier lifestyle
More extensive use of advanced technology
for monitoring and prescribing training and
More precise use of heat and altitude
interventions, and nutritional interventions
Better understanding of athleteequipment
Greater emphasis on preventing injuries and
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Full-text available
The aim of the present study was to describe a novel training model based on lactate-guided threshold interval training (LGTIT) within a high-volume, low-intensity approach, which characterizes the training pattern in some world-class middle- and long-distance runners and to review the potential physiological mechanisms explaining its effectiveness. This training model consists of performing three to four LGTIT sessions and one VO2max intensity session weekly. In addition, low intensity running is performed up to an overall volume of 150–180 km/week. During LGTIT sessions, the training pace is dictated by a blood lactate concentration target (i.e., internal rather than external training load), typically ranging from 2 to 4.5 mmol·L−1, measured every one to three repetitions. That intensity may allow for a more rapid recovery through a lower central and peripheral fatigue between high-intensity sessions compared with that of greater intensities and, therefore, a greater weekly volume of these specific workouts. The interval character of LGTIT allows for the achievement of high absolute training speeds and, thus, maximizing the number of motor units recruited, despite a relatively low metabolic intensity (i.e., threshold zone). This model may increase the mitochondrial proliferation through the optimization of both calcium and adenosine monophosphate activated protein kinase (AMPK) signaling pathways.
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When successful athletes are asked to explain the reasons behind their success, they often highlight the quality of their training. This aspect has so far received limited attention in sport science, and several fundamental questions related to this feature need to be addressed. What is training quality? What factors affect training quality? Who makes the call whether the training process is of good quality or not? How can training quality be assessed and improved? In this editorial, we briefly address these questions, provide a point of departure for further discussions, and encourage future studies to explore this topic more thoroughly.
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Objectives: To analyse the available evidence and identify gaps in current knowledge regarding physical activity volume and intensity and their effects on pregnancy outcomes in female athletes. Design: Scoping review. Data sources: A structured literature search of three electronic databases (Embase, PubMed and Web of Science) was conducted on 25 February 2022, and a rerun search was conducted on 8 September 2022. Eligibility criteria: Studies were eligible if they contained information on the relevant population (ie, elite or competitive amateur female athletes), intervention/exposure (ie, minimum of 10 hours of sport per week) and fetal and maternal outcomes. Eligible comparators included female recreational athletes and pregnant non-exercisers. Risk of bias: The risk of bias was evaluated with the National Institutes of Health (National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute) quality assessment tool. Results: The results revealed a discrepancy between the number of original research papers and the number of reviews and recommendations derived from them. The identified studies focused primarily on pregnant recreational athletes. Sixteen clinical studies met the inclusion criteria. No adverse effects on maternal or fetal outcomes were reported. Only during performance tests involving acute intensive exercise with the mother exercising at more than 90% of her maximal heart rate did some fetuses experience decelerations in heart rate. Summary/conclusion: A lack of high-quality studies and direct evidence on pregnant elite and competitive amateur female athletes is evident. Further prospective observational cohort studies are needed using new monitoring methods (eg, non-invasive, wireless monitoring systems) aiming to gain a broader understanding of the stress tolerance of pregnant athletes and fetuses during exercise. Following that, interventional studies with stress tests in laboratory settings should be conducted. Therefore, technology plays a decisive role in gaining new knowledge and providing evidence-based recommendations on this topic. PROSPERO registration number: CRD42022309541.
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Adaptation to heat-stress and hypoxia are relevant for athletes participating in Tour de France or similar cycling races taking place during the summertime in landscapes with varying altitude. Both to minimize detrimental performance effects associated with arterial desaturation occurring at moderate altitudes in elite athletes, respectively reduce the risk of hyperthermia on hot days, but also as a pre-competition acclimatization strategy to boost blood volume in already highly adapted athletes. The hematological adaptations require weeks of exposure to manifest, but are attractive as an augmented hemoglobin mass may improve arterial oxygen delivery and hence benefit prolonged performances. Altitude training camps have in this context a long history in exercise physiology and are still common practice in elite cycling. However, heat acclimation training provides an attractive alternative for some athletes either as a stand-alone approach or in combination with altitude. The present paper provides an update and practical perspectives on the potential to utilize hypoxia and heat exposure to optimize hematological adaptations. Furthermore, we will consider temporal aspects both in terms of onset and decay of the adaptations relevant for improved thermoregulatory capacity and respiratory adaptations to abate arterial desaturation during altitude exposure. From focus on involved physiological mechanisms, time-course and responsiveness in elite athletes, we will provide guidance based on our experience from practical implementation in cyclists preparing for prolonged stage races such as the Tour de France.
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Background There is growing understanding of mental health needs in elite athletes, but less is known about the mental health of coaches and support staff who work within elite sport settings. This study examined the prevalence and correlates of mental health symptoms in elite-level coaches and high-performance support staff (HPSS) and compared rates against published elite athlete samples. A cross-sectional, anonymous, online survey was administered to coaches and HPSS working in Australia’s high-performance sports system. Main outcomes were scores on validated measures of psychological distress, probable ‘caseness’ for a diagnosable psychological condition, alcohol consumption and sleep disturbance. Results Data were provided by 78 coaches (mean age = 46.4 years, 23.8% female) and 174 HPSS (mean age = 40.0 years, 56.7% female). Overall, 41.2% of the sample met probable caseness criteria, 13.9% reported high to very high psychological distress, 41.8% reported potential risky alcohol consumption and 17.7% reported moderate to severe sleep disturbance, with no statistically significant differences between coaches and HPSS. The most robust correlates of psychological distress and probable caseness were dissatisfaction with social support and dissatisfaction with life balance, while poor life balance was also associated with increased alcohol consumption and poor social support with sleep disturbance. Coaches and HPSS reported similar prevalence of mental health outcomes compared to rates previously observed in elite athletes, with the exception of higher reporting of alcohol consumption among coaches and HPSS. Conclusions Elite-level coaches and HPSS reported levels of psychological distress and probable caseness similar to those previously reported among elite-level athletes, suggesting that these groups are also susceptible to the pressures of high-performance sporting environments. Screening for mental health symptoms in elite sport should be extended from athletes to all key stakeholders in the daily training environment, as should access to programs to support mental health and well-being.
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Participation by female athletes in competitive sport has increased dramatically since the inception of Title IX, although female athletes are represented significantly less than their male counterparts in strength and conditioning (S&C) literature. This is apparent when examining current identified trends in the field, such as implementation of blood flow restriction (BFR) training, functional assessments to predict injuries, or the ever-increasing use of technology in sports. The aim of this review is to examine three prevalent trends in contemporary S&C literature as they relate to female athletes in order to expose areas lacking in research. We conducted journal and database searches to progressively deepen our examination of available research, starting first with broad emerging themes within S&C, followed next by an inquiry into literature concerning S&C practices in females, ending finally with a review of emerging topics concerning female athletes. To this end, 534 articles were reviewed from PubMed, Academic Search Complete, Google Scholar, CINAHL, MEDLINE, and Web of Science. Results demonstrate the utility of implementing BFR, functional movement assessments, and various technologies among this population to expand representation of female athletes in S&C literature, improve athletic capabilities and performance, and decrease potential for injury over time.
Scientific interest in pacing goes back >100 years. Contemporary interest, both as a feature of athletic competition and as a window into understanding fatigue, goes back >30 years. Pacing represents the pattern of energy use designed to produce a competitive result while managing fatigue of different origins. Pacing has been studied both against the clock and during head-to-head competition. Several models have been used to explain pacing, including the teleoanticipation model, the central governor model, the anticipatory-feedback-rating of perceived exertion model, the concept of a learned template, the affordance concept, the integrative governor theory, and as an explanation for "falling behind." Early studies, mostly using time-trial exercise, focused on the need to manage homeostatic disturbance. More recent studies, based on head-to-head competition, have focused on an improved understanding of how psychophysiology, beyond the gestalt concept of rating of perceived exertion, can be understood as a mediator of pacing and as an explanation for falling behind. More recent approaches to pacing have focused on the elements of decision making during sport and have expanded the role of psychophysiological responses including sensory-discriminatory, affective-motivational, and cognitive-evaluative dimensions. These approaches have expanded the understanding of variations in pacing, particularly during head-to-head competition.
Advancements in running shoe technology over the last 5 years have sparked controversy in athletics as linked with clear running economy and performance enhancements. Early debates mainly surrounded ‘super shoes’ in long-distance running, but more recently, the controversy has filtered through to sprint and middle-distance running with the emergence of ‘super spikes’. This Current Concepts paper provides a brief overview on the controversial topic of super shoes and super spikes. The defining features of technologically advanced shoes are a stiff plate embedded within the midsole, curved plate and midsole geometry, and lightweight, resilient, high-energy returning foam that – in combination – enhance running performance. Since the launch of the first commercially available super shoe, all world records from the 5 km to the marathon have been broken by athletes wearing super shoes or super spikes, with a similar trend observed in middle-distance running. The improvements in super shoes are around 4% for running economy and 2% for performance, and speculatively around 1% to 1.5% for super spikes. These enhancements are believed multifactorial in nature and difficult to parse, although involve longitudinal bending stiffness, the ‘teeter-totter effect’, the high-energy return properties of the midsole material, enhanced stack height and lightweight characteristic of shoes.
Purpose: The International Olympic Committee expert-group on pregnancy has identified a paucity of information regarding training and performance in truly elite athletes. Thus, the purpose of this study was to quantify elite runners' training volume throughout pregnancy and postpartum competition performance outcomes. Methods: Forty-two elite (>50% competed at the World Championships/Olympic) middle/long-distance runners' pre-, during-, and post-pregnancy training (quality/quantity/type) data (retrospective questionnaire) and competition data (published online) were collected. Results: Running volume decreased significantly (p < 0.01) from the first trimester (63 ± 34 km/week) to third trimester (30 ± 30 km/week). Participants returned to activity/exercise at ~6 weeks postpartum and to 80% of pre-pregnancy training volumes by 3-months. In the 60% of participants who intended to return to equivalent performance levels post- pregnancy, there was no statistical decrease in performance in the 1 to-3 years post compared to pre-pregnancy, and 46% improved performances post-pregnancy. Conclusions: This study features the largest cohort of elite runners training and competition outcomes assessed throughout pregnancy, with training volumes being ~2 to 4-times greater than current guidelines. For the first time, performance was directly assessed (due to the quantifiable nature of elite running) and study participants who intended to return to high-level competition did so at a statistically similar level of performance in the 1 to 3-year period post-pregnancy. Taken together, this paper provides much needed insights into current training practices and performance of elite pregnant runners which should help to inform future training guidelines as well as sport policy and sponsor expectations around return to training timelines and performance.
We examined the effects of carbohydrate (CHO) delivery form on exogenous CHO oxidation, gastrointestinal discomfort, and exercise capacity. In a randomised repeated measures design (after 24 h of high CHO intake (8 g·kg-1) and pre-exercise meal (2 g·kg-1)), nine trained males ingested 120 g CHO·h-1 from fluid (DRINK), semi-solid gel (GEL), solid jelly chew (CHEW), or a co-ingestion approach (MIX). Participants cycled for 180 min at 95% lactate threshold followed by an exercise capacity test (150% lactate threshold). Peak rates of exogenous CHO oxidation (DRINK, 1.56 ± 0.16; GEL, 1.58 ± 0.13; CHEW, 1.59 ± 0.08; MIX, 1.66 ± 0.02 g·min-1) and oxidation efficiency (DRINK, 72 ± 8; GEL, 72 ± 5; CHEW, 75 ± 5; MIX, 75 ± 6%) were not different between trials (all P > 0.05). Despite ingesting 120 g·h-1, participants reported minimal symptoms of gastrointestinal distress across all trials. Exercise capacity was also not significantly different (all P < 0.05) between conditions (DRINK, 446 ± 350; GEL, 529 ± 396; CHEW, 596 ± 416; MIX, 469 ± 395 sec). Data represent the first time that rates of exogenous CHO oxidation (via stable isotope methodology) have been simultaneously assessed using feeding strategies (i.e., pre-exercise CHO feeding and the different forms and combinations of CHO during exercise) commonly adopted by elite endurance athletes. We conclude 120 g·h-1 CHO (in a 1:0.8 ratio of maltodextrin or glucose:fructose) is a practically tolerable strategy to promote high CHO availability and oxidation during exercise.