Four testing protocols were completed by each of 10 runners using a common speed for protocols 1 and 2 (P1 and P2), each runner's training pace for protocol 3 (P3) and a speed selected manually by the runner for protocol 4 (P4). Stages were increased by 2.5% grade every 2 min for each protocol except for P1, which had 1 min stages. There were no significant differences in maximum oxygen uptake (VO2 max) between protocols (P1, 65.0 +/- 5.6 ml.kg-1 min-1; P2, 64.5 +/- 5.3 ml.kg-1 min-1; P3, 66.2 +/- 3.9 ml.kg-1 min-1; P4, 64.7 +/- 5.8 ml.kg-1 min-1). Treadmill time was significantly less for P1 than for the other protocols. The rate of perceived exertion obtained at maximal exercise during P1 was less than that obtained during the other three protocols. Heart rate was significantly lower (P less than 0.05) at any level of submaximal VO2 during P3 than during the other protocols. We recommend a testing protocol using speeds approximating the runner's training pace and 1 min stages. This may result in lower perception of difficulty and HR throughout the test and shorter testing times.
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