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Pace versus prediction: Implications of age, experience and sex on marathon race performance

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conference contribution
posted on 2023-08-30, 14:39 authored by Dan Gordon, Itay Basevitch, Adrian Scruton, Joe Biggins, James Baker, Viviane Merzbach
PURPOSE: Pacing strategies during exercise are attributed to optimising the balance between the artefacts of fatigue and regulation of substrate metabolism. Pace judgement is set within a continuum of information from the ability to anticipate metabolic demands and select an appropriate strategy through to the accumulation of prior experience for completion of such a task that has a known end-point. Therefore the purpose of this study was evaluate the factors which contribute to successfully regulating pace and attaining a predicted end time during a marathon. METHOD: Following local institutional ethical approval n= 777 runners competing in the 2015 London Marathon of which n= 393 were females and n= 384 were males participated. Using an on-line survey and opportunistic questionnaires at a pre-marathon event participants were asked to predict their race time. Athlete experience (EXP) was established based on the number of previously completed marathons using a Likert scale from 0 to greater than 10 with increments of 1 race. Age was stratified according to those adopted by the marathon organisers: 18-39yrs, 40-49yrs, 50-59yrs and >60yrs. 5Km split times were converted to speed and normalised (%) to the final split time/speed (m.s-1). Prediction time (PT) was used a proxy for end-point and compared to finish time (FT). RESULTS: FT for whole group (WG) was 15479 ± 3311s compared to the group PT 15003 ± 2972s a significant difference of 476s (P= 0.0001). An R2 of 0.863 observed for WG compared to 0.799 (0-EXP) and 0.852 (EXP-5) when comparing FT to PT. 0-EXP showed significant difference across all split times apart from 35-40 km (P=0.0001) with a decrease in normalised speed from 5km (109.0 ± 7.6) – 40km (89.9 ± 7.4%). The 5-EXP group showed significant changes in pace between 25-30 km (P= 0.001) (ES =0.35), 30-35 km (P= 0.0001) (ES= 0.44) and 35-40 km (P= 0.0001), decrease in pace from 5km (105.0 ± 5.7%) to 40km (93.7 ± 5.6%). Large effect sizes (ES) observed for 18-39yrs at 30-35km (r= 0.370), 40-49yrs at 30-35km (r= 0.337), 50-59yrs at 25-30km (r= 0.368) and 30-35km (r= 0.418) and >60yrs at 30-35km (r= 0.527). A significant difference (P= 0.0001) of 476s was observed between PT and FT for the whole group compared to differences of 531 s (p= 0.000) and 419s (P= 0.000) for the males and females respectively. CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest that successful marathon pacing is dependent on the experience of the athlete reflecting the development of the pacing template. Additionally experience is associated with better attainment of prediction time suggesting that less experienced runners should run with more experienced athletes with similar end-point targets.


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21st Annual Congress of the European College of Sports Science: Crossing Borders through Sport Science

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21st Annual Congress of the European College of Sports Science: Crossing Borders through Sport Science


Vienna, Austria

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ARCHIVED Faculty of Science & Technology (until September 2018)

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