O'Brien, K., Foster, C., de Konig, J. J., Mally, K., Mikat, R. P., & Porcari, J. P. (2011). Learning pacing strategy in relation to age. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 43(5). Supplement abstract 1024.

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This study compared the performance and pattern of running in groups of children and young adults during repetitive performances of a difficult task (1-mile run). Physically active pre-pubertal children (M = 8: F = 2; 10-11 years) and young adults (M = 5, F = 5; 18-22 years), with no background in "paced" sports ran 1-mile on three occasions. The only instructions were to "do your best" and to "try to improve". A small economic incentive was offered during the second and third trails to encourage maximal effort. Velocity was measured by video every 50 m, and perceived effort was rated every 200 m. Pacing patterns were assessed by calculating the within-trial critical running velocity for all Ss.

There was no systematic difference in running time across trials for children or young adults. Rating of perceived exertion increased in all trials in the characteristic linear pattern previously described for time-trials. Pacing patterns were more variable in the children. The critical running velocity decreased significantly across trails in both the children and young adults. The decrease was greater for children than for young adults and was still decreasing in the children after the third trial.

Implication. When performing extended tasks, children exhibit more variable pacing patterns than young adults.

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