Purpose: Athletes are trained to choose the pace which is perceived to be correct during a specific effort, such as the 1500-m speed skating competition. The purpose of the present study was to ‘override’ self-paced performance by instructing athletes to execute a theoretically optimal pacing profile.
Methods: Seven national level speed-skaters performed a self-paced 1500m (SP) which was analyzed by obtaining velocity (every 100m) and body position (every 200m) with video to calculate total mechanical power output. Together with gross efficiency and aerobic kinetics, obtained in separate trials, data were used to calculate aerobic and anaerobic power output profiles. An energy flow model was applied to SP, simulating a range of pacing strategies and a theoretically optimal pacing profile was imposed in a second race (IM).
Results: Final time for IM was ~2s slower than SP. Total power distribution per lap differed, with a higher power over the first 300m for IM (637.0 ± 49.4W vs. 612.5 ± 50.0W). Anaerobic parameters did not differ. The faster first lap resulted in a higher aerodynamic drag coefficient and perhaps a less effective push-off.
Conclusion: Experienced athletes have a well-developed performance template and changing pacing strategy towards a theoretically optimal fast start protocol had negative consequences on speed skating technique and did not result in better performance.
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