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Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2006 Apr;38(4):726-34.

Dynamic pacing strategies during the cycle phase of an Ironman triathlon.

Author information

1
School of Exercise, Biomedical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Western Australia, Australia. c.abbiss@ecu.edu.au

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

A nonlinear dynamic systems model has previously been proposed to explain pacing strategies employed during exercise.

PURPOSE:

This study was conducted to examine the pacing strategies used under varying conditions during the cycle phase of an Ironman triathlon.

METHODS:

The bicycles of six well-trained male triathletes were equipped with SRM power meters set to record power output, cadence, speed, and heart rate. The flat, three-lap, out-and-back cycle course, coupled with relatively consistent wind conditions (17-30 km x h(-1)), enabled comparisons to be made between three consecutive 60-km laps and relative wind direction (headwind vs tailwind).

RESULTS:

Participants finished the cycle phase (180 km) with consistently fast performance times (5 h, 11 +/- 2 min; top 10% of all finishers). Average power output (239 +/- 25 to 203 +/- 20 W), cadence (89 +/- 6 to 82 +/- 8 rpm), and speed (36.5 +/- 0.8 to 33.1 +/- 0.8 km x h(-1)) all significantly decreased with increasing number of laps (P < 0.05). These variables, however, were not significantly different between headwind and tailwind sections. The deviation (SD) in power output and cadence did not change with increasing number of laps; however, the deviations in torque (6.8 +/- 1.6 and 5.8 +/- 1.3 N x m) and speed (2.1 +/- 0.5 and 1.6 +/- 0.3 km x h(-1)) were significantly greater under headwind compared with tailwind conditions, respectively. The median power frequency tended to be lower in headwind (0.0480 +/- 0.0083) compared with tailwind (0.0531 +/- 0.0101) sections.

CONCLUSION:

These data show evidence that a nonlinear dynamic pacing strategy is used by well-trained triathletes throughout various segments and conditions of the Ironman cycle phase. Moreover, an increased variation in torque and speed was found in the headwind versus the tailwind condition.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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