Shannon, M. P., Smith, B., & Meeusen, R. (2004). Catecholamine responses to competition taper of elite athletes. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 36(5), Supplement abstract 1019.

This study evaluated the catecholamine response to reduced training loads measured by the Session-RPE model. Male members of the US Kayak National Team (N = 8) performed on-water time trials under similar environmental conditions. A standardized daily training log was completed by each athlete to record general physiological responses, training duration, rate of perceived exertion, and subjective descriptions of mood. Urine samples were analyzed.

Training loads were reduced 17.3% from heavy training to the taper period. Dopamine correlated with training load changes while norepinepherine concentrations did not. Subjective ratings of mood demonstrated no significant changes. On-water time trial revealed a change in performance of 1.2%. Reduced training during the taper was effective in the desired reduction of stress as demonstrated by a significant correlation with dopamine. The lack of greater on-water change in performance may be attributed to the requirement for an increased training load leading up to the tapering period.

Implication. Dopamine is a possible indicator of exercise stress and could be used as one indicator of taper recovery.

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