RUNNING AND SWIMMING RACE PACING ARE MORE COMPLEX THAN COMMONLY BELIEVED
Vesbach, S. J., de Konig, J. J., Lucia, A., Porcari, J. P., & Foster, C. (2009). Unique aspects of the pacing pattern in 800 m running and 200 m swimming. ACSM 56th Annual Meeting, Seattle, Washington. Presentation number 1829.
"The pattern of energy distribution, reflected by movement velocity is thought to be negatively accelerated in 800 m running and relatively even in 200 m swimming. However, official split times may lack the temporal resolution to fully appreciate the pacing pattern."
This study involved high temporal resolution observations of the pacing pattern in world-record performances for 800 m running and 200 m swimming (time base ~2 minutes). Archival video records of world-record performances were reviewed and hand timed, using natural markers in the environment (with official race splits as a correlating factor) to allow measurement of mean velocity at ~12% distance increments (100 m and 25 m for running and swimming, respectively). Velocity curves were fitted using a best fit polynomial (3rd order) and with a simple linear model.
With velocities expressed relative to the mean velocity of the race, using a linear model, both the 800 m and 200 m were negatively accelerated, with the negative acceleration more pronounced in the 800 m. This pattern persisted even when the opening segment (100 m or 25 m) was removed. When a best fit model was applied, the 800 m was described by an overall negatively accelerated biphasic curve, with evidence of an end spurt during the last 100 m. For the 200 m, there was evidence of large velocity differences during the first and last 25 m of each length of the pool, associated with an increase in speed from the push off and progressively slower free swimming velocities during the last 25 m of successive pool lengths.
Implication. The pacing descriptions during 800 m running and 200 m swimming are more complex than reflected by official race splits.
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