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29.10.2018 | Current Opinion | Ausgabe 6/2019

Sports Medicine 6/2019

Maximal Sprint Speed and the Anaerobic Speed Reserve Domain: The Untapped Tools that Differentiate the World’s Best Male 800 m Runners

Sports Medicine > Ausgabe 6/2019
Gareth N. Sandford, Andrew E. Kilding, Angus Ross, Paul B. Laursen


Recent evidence indicates that the modern-day men’s 800 m runner requires a speed capability beyond that of previous eras. In addition, the appreciation of different athlete subgroups (400–800, 800, 800–1500 m) implies a complex interplay between the mechanical (aerial or terrestrial) and physiological characteristics that enable success in any individual runner. Historically, coach education for middle-distance running often emphasises aerobic metabolic conditioning, while it relatively lacks consideration for an important neuromuscular and mechanical component. Consequently, many 800 m runners today may lack the mechanical competence needed to achieve the relaxed race pace speed required for success, resulting in limited ability to cope with surges, run faster first laps or close fast. Mechanical competence may refer to the skilled coordination of neuromuscular/mechanical (stride length/frequency/impulse) and metabolic components needed to sustain middle-distance race pace and adjust to surges efficiently. The anaerobic speed reserve (ASR) construct (difference between an athlete’s velocity at maximal oxygen uptake [v\(\dot{V}\)O2max]—the first speed at which maximal oxygen uptake [\(\dot{V}\)O2max] is attained) and their maximal sprint speed (MSS) offers a framework to assess a runner’s speed range relative to modern-day race demands. While the smooth and relaxed technique observed in middle-distance runners is often considered causal to running economy measured during submaximal running, little empirical evidence supports such an assumption. Thus, a multidisciplinary approach is needed to examine the underpinning factors enabling elite 800 m running race pace efficiency. Here, we argue for the importance of utilising the ASR and MSS measurement to ensure middle-distance runners have the skills to compete in the race-defining surges of modern-day 800 m running.

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