Brisswalter, J., Legros, P., & Durand, M. (1996). Running economy, preferred step length correlated to body dimensions in elite middle distance runners. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, 36, 7-15.

Elite distance runners, who were homogenous in terms of VO2max, were tested under two conditions of work intensity:

Many physical dimensions were measured.

The relationships of body dimensions and movement economy to slow running velocity were opposite those with fast running velocity. There was no relationship between economy of movement between the two velocities. In essence, what was important and influential in governing performance at slow velocity was either unrelated or had an opposite effect at the higher velocity.

Mechanisms of adaptation are different according to the velocity of movement. Specific constraints on variables exist for each individual.

Implication. Training effects from one training velocity are not likely to transfer to another velocity. The greater the velocities differ, the more likely it is that factors developed at one speed will affect the other detrimentally.

The factors that govern movement patterns and economy at one training velocity will not be the same at another velocity. This raises the specter of much training being done at less than competition velocity or intensity causing intended performances to be depressed because of the transfer of factors that are negatively related. While there still is a justification for performing much moderate intensity training, such training becomes less desirable as important competitions approach. It is a reasonable hypothesis to suggest, as an important competition approaches, the volume of intended specific-performance training should increase while the volume of non-specific training should decrease and eventually be removed except for initial warm-up and warm-down activities.

When athletes are tested for physiological states there are many protocols that involve starting at a low intensity and progressing to high intensity tasks. Such protocols involve continual alteration of capacities as intensity changes. Just what is being analyzed when the results of such tests are produced is not clear. Since those results include outcomes from capacities which are not desirable for intended competitive performances (the low intensity factors) it is no wonder that such tests do not have substantial correlations with high-levels of performance in elite athletes.

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