Maximal aerobic power, lactate threshold, and running performance in master athletes

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Abstract

Purpose

This study sought to determine how lactate threshold (LT) is related to running performance in older male and female runners, if LT changes significantly with age, and if gender alters the relationship between LT and performance in older runners.

Methods

Subjects were 168 master runners (111 men, 57 women) selected from a longitudinal study, who ran at least 10 miles·wk−1 for 5 yr or more. V̇O2max was measured on a treadmill and body composition by hydrostatic weighing. Blood samples taken each minute of exercise were analyzed for lactate concentration and LT determined as the breakpoint in lactate accumulation. Performance times and training histories were self-reported by questionnaire.

Results

Men had significantly greater body mass, fat-free mass (FFM), and V̇O2max (L·min−1; mL·kg−1·min−1) than women. FFM and V̇O2max (L·min−1; mL·kg−1·min−1) declined with age in both men and women. Running performance was significantly different between men and women and declined with age in both. LT (L·min−1; mL·kg−1·min−1) was significantly different between men and women, and declined significantly with age in men, whereas LT (%V̇O2max) did not differ between men and women and increased significantly with age in both. V̇O2max (mL·kg−1·min−1) was the most significant predictor of performance in both men and women, whereas LT (L·min−1) added to the prediction of 5-km and 10-km performance in women.

Conclusion

The results of this study demonstrate that V̇O2max (mL·kg−1·min−1) is a better predictor of performance than LT in older male and female runners. Additionally, LT as a percentage of V̇O2max increases significantly with age.

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