Training and Bioenergetic Characteristics in Elite Male and Female Kenyan Runners

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BILLAT, V., P.-M. LEPRETRE, A.-M. HEUGAS, M.-H. LAURENCE, D. SALIM, and J. P. KORALSZTEIN. Training and Bioenergetic Characteristics in Elite Male and Female Kenyan Runners. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 35, No. 2, pp. 297–304, 2003.PurposeThis study compares the training characteristics and the physical profiles of top-class male and female Kenyan long-distance runners.MethodThe subjects were 20 elite Kenyan runners: 13 men (10-km performance time: 10-km performance time of 28 min, 36 s ± 18 s) and 7 women (32 min, 32 s ± 65 s). The male runners were separated into high-speed training runners (HST:N = 6) and low-speed training runners (LST:N = 7) depending on whether they train at speeds equal or higher than those associated with the maximal oxygen uptake (vV̇O2max). All but one woman were high-speed training runners (female HST:N = 6). Subjects performed an incremental test on a 400-m track to determine V̇O2max, vV̇O2max, and the velocity at the lactate threshold (vLT).ResultsWithin each gender among the HST group, 10-km performance time was inversely correlated with vV̇O2max (rho = −0.86, P = 0.05, and rho = −0.95, P = 0.03, for men and women, respectively). HST male runners had a higher V̇O2max, a lower (but not significantly) fraction of vV̇O2max (FV̇O2max) at the lactate threshold, and a higher energy cost of running (ECR). Among men, the weekly training distance at vV̇O2max explained 59% of the variance of vV̇O2max, and vV̇O2max explained 52% of the variance of 10-km performance time. Kenyan women had a high V̇O2max and FV̇O2max at vLT that was lower than their male HST counterparts. ECR was not significantly different between genders.ConclusionThe velocity at the V̇O2max is the main factor predicting the variance of the 10-km performance both in men and women, and high-intensity training contributes to this higher V̇O2max among men.

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