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Physiol Behav. 2015 Oct 1;149:39-44. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2015.05.021. Epub 2015 May 24.

Head-to-head running race simulation alters pacing strategy, performance, and mood state.

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Endurance Performance Research Group (GEDAE), School of Physical Education and Sport (EEFE) of the University of São Paulo (USP), São Paulo, SP, Brazil.
Center of Studies in the Physical Exercise Prescription (NEPEF), Physical Education of Department, Federal University of Lavras (UFLA), Lavras, MG, Brazil.
Sports Science Research Group, Department of Physical Education and Sports Science (CAV), Federal University of Pernambuco, Vitoria de Santo Antão, Brazil.
Endurance Performance Research Group (GEDAE), School of Physical Education and Sport (EEFE) of the University of São Paulo (USP), São Paulo, SP, Brazil. Electronic address:


The objective of this study was to analyze the influence of the presence and absence of competitors on pacing, overall running performance, and mood state during a self-paced 3-km run. Nine recreational runners participated in this study. They performed the following tests: a) an incremental test to exhaustion to measure the respiratory compensation point (RCP), maximal oxygen uptake, and peak treadmill speed; b) a submaximal speed constant test to measure running economy; and c) two 3-km running time trials performed collectively (COL, head-to-head competition) or individually (IND, performed alone) to establish pacing and running performance. The COL condition was formed of a group of four runners or five runners. Runners were grouped by matched performance times and to retain head-to-head characteristics.A mood state profile questionnaire was completed before and after the 3-km running time trial. The overall performance was better in the COL than in the IND (11.75 ± 0.05 min vs. 12.25 ± 0.06 min, respectively; p = 0.04). The running speeds during the first 500 m were significantly greater in COL (16.8 ± 2.16 km·h−1) than in IND (15.3 ± 2.45 km·h−1) (p = 0.03).The gain in running speed from IND to COL during the first 400 m (i.e. running speed in COL less running speed in IND) was significantly correlated with the RCP (r = 0.88; p = 0.05). The vigor score significantly decreased from pre- to post-running in COL (p=0.05), but not in IND (p=0.20). Additionally, the post running vigor was significantly higher in IND compared to COL (p = 0.03).These findings suggested that the presence of competitors induces a fast start, which results in an improved overall performance and reduced post-exercise vigor scores, compared to an individual run.


Middle-distance running; Mood state; POMS; Pacing strategy; Respiratory compensation point

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