Neary, J. P., Gaul, C. A., & Smith, D. J. (1997). Reduced cortisol during tapering in elite runners. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 29(5), Supplement abstract 1265.

This study examined the effects of a "taper" on urinary free cortisol and serum testosterone in eight (M = 6; F = 2) runners. Following heavy training, a taper period of reduced volume but intensity maintenance was performed.

It was found that 7 of 8 Ss had reduced cortisol values post-taper. In 4 of 6 males "biologically" significant increases in serum testosterone levels were exhibited.

It was concluded that urinary cortisol is a good marker for monitoring physiological changes after heavy training and tapering in elite runners and that a taper helps reverse the hormonal changes experienced from strenuous training. The observation of this factor is better if data and frequent measures are evaluated on an individual basis.

Implication. While cortisol eventually exhibits change in most runners after a taper it is not sensitive enough to indicate daily responding during a taper, something which needs to be known to enhance coaching decisions during that critical time. Cortisol is not a universal marker for all sports. At present, it can be used for some runners. It should only be used after an individual has been evaluated and demonstrated that it is a valid marker.

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