What is the best strategy to manage endurance competitions: what are statistics showing us?

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation at Conference


    In many running or endurance sports such as marathon running, cycling and long-distance swimming, the contribution of race strategy or pacing to success has been clearly identified and extensively studied (Abbiss and Laursen, 2008). Pacing strategy describes how an athlete distributes workload throughout an event as opposed to the absolute workload per se. The science of pacing is complex and a variety of different pacing strategies are recognised, including negative (speed increases through event), all-out, positive (speed peaks and then decreases), even, parabolic and variable pacing strategies. The pace a human athlete selects appears to be determined through an extremely complex set of inputs and “a complex algorithm involving peripheral sensory feedback and the anticipated workload remaining” (Abbiss and Laursen, 2008). In the IAAF World Half-Marathon Championships, Hanley (2015) reported that the best performing male and female athletes maintained their split speeds between 5 km and 15 km, whereas slower athletes had decreased speeds from 5 km onwards. Hanley (2015) also observed that running in packs resulted in smaller decreases in pace compared with athletes who ran alone after 5 km. Santos-Lozano et al. (2014) studied a large number of participants in the New York City Marathon (2006-2011) and reported lower variation in speed at 5 km splits in the top runners compared with runners who completed at a slower overall speed. A strong feature of success in human endurance running appears to be low variability in pace (Lambert et al. 2004; Ely et al. 2008; Haney & Mercer, 2011). Suggested key factors in marathon failure are the selection of unsustainable initial running speeds and the role of psychological factors leading to poor decision making by athletes (Renfree and St Clair Gibson, 2013). The analysis of race strategy or pacing strategy is particularly well developed and studied in cycling, in both shorter time trials (de Jong et al. 2015) and ultracycling events (Heidenfelder et al 2016). One particular advantage of cycling over running is the potential to measure power output in real time in parallel with other variables such as performance and rating of perceived exertion, which may provide further insight into pacing strategy (Konings et al. 2017). The role of pacing strategy in equestrian sport has received little attention. Spence et al. (2012) studied race data from 44,803 Thoroughbred racehorses in 3,357 races ranging in length from 1006 to 4225m (50.9-292.9 seconds duration) and observed that better performing horses exhibited race length-dependent pacing strategies which were correlated with the fastest racing times.
    Period9 Sep 2018
    Event titleInternational Veterinary Endurance Conference 2018
    Event typeConference
    LocationUnited States, North Carolina
    Degree of RecognitionInternational