Le Meur, Y., Hausswirth, C., Brisswalter, J., & Bernard, T. (2009). Influence of gender on pacing adopted by elite triathletes during a competition. A paper presented at the 14th Annual Congress of the European College of Sport Science, Oslo, Norway, June 24-27.

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This study described the pacing strategies adopted by female and male elite triathletes during a World Cup. Elite triathletes (M = 6; F = 6) performed three maximal tests: an all-out 400-m front-crawl to determine swimming maximal heart rate, an incremental cycling test during which power output, heart rate, ventilatory thresholds 1 and 2, and maximal aerobic power were assessed, and an incremental running test to evaluate their maximal running heart rate. Throughout a World Cup short distance competition, speed and heart rate were measured. The amount of time spent below 10% of power output (zone 1), between 10% maximal aerobic power and power output at V1 (zone 2), between power output at ventilatory thresholds 1 and 2 (zone 3), between power output at ventilatory threshold 2 and maximal aerobic power (zone 4), and above maximal aerobic power (zone 5) were analyzed during the cycling leg.

Swimming and running speeds decreased similarly for both genders and heart rate values were similar for both genders throughout the race. The distribution of time spent in the 5 intensity zones during the cycling leg was the same for both genders. Menís speed and power output decreased after the first cycling lap and women spent more relative time above maximal aerobic power in the hilly sections than men. Menís running speed decreased significantly over the circuit, whereas women slowed only over the uphill and downhill sections.

Implication. Both female and male elite triathletes adopted similar positive pacing strategies during swimming and running. Males pushed the pace during the swim-to-cycle transition whereas females did not. Female triathletes were more affected by changes in slope during both cycling and running phases. These effects of gender on pacing imply different training programs are needed for female and male elite triathletes.

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