Pacing strategies in competitive middle distance events

Graham Mytton

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Pacing patterns vary between sports, between athletes and between competitions. There is much literature investigating pacing patterns in laboratory and staged competitive situations which have suggested that fast start, parabolic and even pacing patterns could be optimal for short, middle and long distance events, respectively, in elite athletes. However, there is little information about optimal pacing patterns to win medals in competitive situations in middle distance events and even less information specifically for female and developing athletes. This thesis describes and explains the variation in pacing needed to win a medal in swimming and running middle distance events for male and female elite athletes using data from international competitions. Pacing patterns seen in competitive middle distance events by developing swimmers were also investigated. Following a literature review, two methodological chapters developed a suitable video data capture method and then identified a suitable sample size for the collection of retrospective data. The first experimental chapter identified that a variable pacing pattern that included a conservation period of reduced relative pace and an end-spurt of increased relative pace was optimal in order to win a medal in elite men’s 400 m freestyle swimming and 1500 m running. The second experimental chapter identified the same need for conservation of relative pace earlier in the race and an increase in relative pace for an end-spurt at the end of a race in order to win a medal in female elite 400 m freestyle swimming. The third experimental chapter identified that the same pacing patterns were optimal for age group swimmers at regional competitions but that the youngest swimmers needed to develop a more optimal performance template. The fourth and final experimental chapter of this thesis used three case studies to show that a higher training load and lower positive affect led to improved pacing patterns in developing athletes. This thesis contributes to the literature on pacing by identifying the optimal changes in relative speed needed to win a medal in competitive middle distance events.
Original languageEnglish
  • Rumbold, Penny, Supervisor
Publication statusIn preparation - 2016


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