A laboratory-based sprint running test has been devised to examine the performance characteristics and metabolic responses of an individual to 30 seconds of maximal exercise. A non-motorised treadmill was used so that the individual was able to sprint at his own chosen speed and also to vary his speed as fatigue occurred. The treadmill was instrumented so that the chosen speeds as well as the equivalent distance travelled could be monitored by micro-computer throughout the test. The test-retest reliability of the procedure was investigated with 14 recreational runners who performed the test on different days. A good correlation (r = 0.93) was found between the values obtained for peak running speeds on the two occasions. In an attempt to establish whether or not this test could be used to identify the differences in the performance characteristics of highly trained individuals, the responses to the test of eleven sprint trained and eleven endurance trained athletes were examined. The sprint trained athletes covered a greater distance (162.2 +/- 5.95 m vis 153.51 +/- 12.32 m; p less than 0.01) and had higher blood lactate concentrations (16.52 +/- 1.23 mM vis 12.98 +/- 1.77 mM; p less than 0.01) than the endurance trained athletes. Therefore this laboratory sprint running test offers an additional way of investigating human responses to brief periods of high intensity exercise.
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