All of the studies I've shared (~600 studies) are available on the RESOURCES PAGE.
This weekly summary is also available in my Substack newsletter - Endurance: Ideas + Implementation.
This week's quick summary:
- a 2-week in-season break can impact sprint performance
- sports scientists' views on what it takes to succeed in sport
- incidence of musculoskeletal injuries during mountain running races
- the role of RPE in pacing
- performance feedback and mental fatigue
PHYSIOLOGY: Effects of a short-term in-season break on repeated-sprint ability, jump height and locomotor performance in SSGS in female soccer players
- The current study aimed to analyse the effects of an in-season break period (2-week) on specific performance in amateur young female soccer players.
- In each session, players completed a repeated sprint ability test (repeated sprint ability = 8 sprints of 30 m with 25" of recovery), a countermovement jump test and locomotor performance in small-sided games (small-sided games = 3 sets of 5' in a 5 vs. 5).
- Players exhibited a significant decrease in mean of repeated sprint ability and countermovement jump.
- Only a 2-week in-season break inactivity was sufficient to decrease mean of repeated sprint ability and countermovement jump performance but not the best of repeated sprint ability.
While this study looked at soccer players, it's interesting to note that just a two-week break impacted sprint ability and countermovement jump. In running, I think this could be applied to tapers or off-seasons. Maintaining some sort of speed or running economy to maintain muscle tension in a taper may result in better performance (see this muscle tension article from Steve Magness).
GENERAL: How to succeed as an athlete
- Talent - you have to have enough predisposition for an event to have the early success that “lights the ﬁre.”
- Health - athletes have to be able to tolerate large physical loads and recover in a timely way.
- Consistency - most elite athletes have devoted years to systematic preparation before reaching the top.
- Coaching - the world of coaching is polarized in that for many coaches the only qualiﬁcation is having been an elite performer themselves.
- Opportunities - ability to defer regular work and to organize educational/professional development to give time for training and competition is critical.
- Goal setting - athletes are goal-oriented people. They want to go faster, lift more, and play better.
- Luck - while sport is a creature of preparation, both in training and in competitive tactics, a certain amount of pure luck is necessary.
This paper concludes with the roles that sports scientists play in helping athletes to succeed, but they could also apply to athletes and coaches. Many of these elements are within our control and can be changed or adjusted. It's a useful list to consider: have you given yourself the right opportunities? have you set good goals? have you done everything you can to maintain your health?
- The aim of the present study was to examine the severity, type, and body location of musculoskeletal injuries during 20–42 km mountain running races.
- Data on injuries were collected during 36 mountain running races over 5 consecutive seasons from 2015 to 2019.
- The results were presented as the number of injuries per 1000 h exposure and per 1000 participants.
- Twenty eight injuries were reported.
- Most injuries occurred in the ankle (32%) followed by the knee (14%) and foot/toe (11%).
- The number of injuries represented an overall injury rate of 1.6 injuries per 1000 h running and 5.9 injuries per 1000 runners.
It appears that the incidence of injury in mountain running races is lower than the general rate of injury amongst runners (the incidence reported in the literature varies from 2.5 to 12.1 injuries per 1000 hours of running). There is no need to be concerned with potential additional risk for injury from mountain running.
- The primary purpose was to investigate whether the RPE template can be manipulated by changing the race distance during the course of a time trial.
- Trained male subjects (N=10) performed three cycling time trials: a 10 km (TT10), a 15 km (TT15) and a manipulated 15 km (TTman).
- During the TTman, subjects started the time trial believing that they were going to perform a 10-km time trial. However, at 7.5 km they were told that it was a 15-km time trial.
- Post-hoc comparisons showed that the RPE values of the TT15 were lower than the RPE values of the TT10.
- After the 7.5 km, a transition phase occurs, in which an interaction effect is present. After this transition phase, the RPE values of TTman and TT15 did not statistically differ.
- A clear shift in RPE during the TTman is present between the RPE template of the TT10 and TT15.
Athletes use RPE to guide their efforts in a time trial. Jason Montfort (@JasonMontfort) shared a similar study that he was a participant in that showed the same results (Pacing strategy in simulated cycle time-trials is based on perceived rather than actual distance). A potential implication for pacing is to ensure that any factors outside the effort itself (environmental, equipment, etc) do not interfere and increase RPE which could result in lowered pace.
FATIGUE: Performance feedback mitigates the effects of mental fatigue on endurance exercise performance
- Mental fatigue induced by an earlier cognitive task can impair performance on a subsequent physical task. The current study investigated whether such performance impairment could be mitigated by performance feedback.
- Participants were randomly allocated to one of three groups: feedback (n = 23), no feedback (n = 20), control (n = 20).
- The cognitive tasks involved either completing a 2-back memory task to induce mental fatigue (feedback and no feedback groups) or watching a didactic film (control group).
- Relative to the pre-test physical task, post-test endurance performance declined in the no feedback group (−14.4%) but did not change in the control (−2.6%) and feedback (−2.4%) groups.
- Visual performance feedback mitigates the negative effects of mental fatigue on physical endurance performance.
- Training programs can be adapted to help those in a state of mental fatigue by delivering performance feedback (e.g., time pacing, distance covered, distance remaining) via smart devices to optimize performance.
Be deliberate in recognizing and anticipating mental fatigue in your training and racing. You can use performance feedback (either from coaches, pacers, or devices) to help with mental fatigue and mitigate the impact on performance.