Variations of pacing in simulated rowing : effects on physiological and performance variables : a thesis presented for the degree of Master of Science (Sport and Exercise Science), Massey University, Auckland

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Background: Observation of pacing strategies in competitive rowing show that a parabolic-shaped strategy of a fast-starting 500 m, a slowing over the middle 1000 m and an increase of pace in the final 500 m, is the common self-selected strategy. This typical pacing strategy is influenced by the tactical need for the rower or crew to row in water free of wake and to be in a position where competitors can be observed. Previous work has suggested however that the fast start is also physiologically beneficial in causing a faster oxygen uptake (V˙ O2) kinetic response, thereby reducing the initial oxygen deficit and the concomitant accumulation of fatiguing by-products. Objective: The purpose of this study was to investigate the influence of starting strategy on V˙ O2 kinetics and performance during 2000 m simulated rowing. Methods: Six (n) trained rowers (V˙ O2peak 61.9 ± 4.2 ml·kg-1·min-1) performed a baseline 2000 m ergometer rowing trial using a Concept II rowing ergometer. From the baseline data, starting strategies were developed for the first 500 m. A fast-start (107% ± 3.27% mean overall velocity) and an even start strategy (100% ± 1.78% mean overall velocity) were developed. Rowers then completed trials using these starting strategies. All trials were carried out in a counterbalanced order. Performance variables and heart rate were downloaded from the ergometer. Physiological measures of V˙ O2 were measured throughout exercise. Post-trial blood lactate was also measured. A general linear model with repeated measures was used to determine the effects on the relevant physiological and performance variables elicited by the starting strategy permutations across 100 m and 500 m sectors. A one-way ANOVA was used to determine the effect on overall time and overall power as well as post-trial blood lactate values. Effect size was also determined by use of Cohens d values. Results: No significant differences were found between trials for overall finishing time (mean ± SD; baseline 409.5 ± 26.5 s, fast start 406.4 ± 32.7 s, even start 406.4 ± 27.1 s), mean work across 2000 m (baseline 329.1 ± 53.0 W, fast start 343.0 ± 68.0 W, even start 340.3 ± 57.9 W) or post-trial lactate (baseline 12.4 ± 3.7 mmol∙L-1, fast start 12.2 ± 3.1 mmol∙L-1, even start 14.0 ± 1.1 mmol∙L-1). No significant differences were found in the V˙ O2 response in the first and last quarter of the 2000 m trials but results show V˙ O2 response was significantly greater for a fast start when compared to baseline for the second (Wilks‟ Lambda =.104, F (2, 3) =12.923, p<.05, multivariate eta squared=.896) and third quarters (Wilks‟ Lambda=.063, F (2, 3) = 22.378, p<.05, multivariate eta squared=.937), respectively. Conclusions: Whilst data indicate that variation on the starting strategy had relatively small effect on performance outcomes it did indicate that the rate at which V˙ O2 increases is sensitive to the pattern of work rate imposition. The duration of rowing can vary between 5.8–7.4 min and V˙ O2max is normally attained within the event therefore any benefit from the faster V˙ O2 kinetic response in the second and third quarters is unlikely to have significant impact on performance outcomes.
Rowing, Rowing strategy, Rowing pace