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J Sports Sci. 2013;31(3):299-304. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2012.729136. Epub 2012 Oct 11.

Changes in running mechanics and spring-mass behaviour induced by a 5-hour hilly running bout.

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Institute of Sport Sciences, Department of Physiology, Faculty of Biology and Medicine, University of Lausanne, Bâtiment Vidy, CH-1015, Lausanne, CH-1015, Switzerland.


The aim of this study was to investigate changes in running mechanics and spring-mass behaviour with fatigue induced by 5-hour hilly running (5HHR). Running mechanics were measured pre- and post-5HHR at 10, 12 and 14 km · h(-1) on an instrumented treadmill in eight ultramarathon runners, and sampled at 1000 Hz for 10 consecutive steps. Contact (t(c) ) and aerial (t(a) ) times were determined from ground reaction force (GRF) signals and used to compute step frequency (f). Maximal GRF, loading rate, downward displacement of the centre of mass (Δz), and leg length change (ΔL) during the support phase were determined and used to compute both vertical (K(vert) ) and leg (K(leg) ) stiffness. A significant decrease in t(c) was observed at 12 and 14 km · h(-1) resulting in an increase of f at all speeds. Duty factor and F(max) significantly decreased at 10 km · h(-1). A significant increase in K(vert) and K(leg) was observed at all running speeds with significant decreases in Δz and ΔL. Despite the shorter duration, the changes in running mechanics appeared to be in the same direction (increased f and K(vert) , decrease in Δz and F(max) ) but of lower amplitude compared with those obtained after an ultra-trail or an ultramarathon.

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