S. S. Sahota, P. K. Singh, I. J. Foster, A. L. Wookey, M. J. Rogers, C. Q. Malcolm, M.D. White

Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada

PURPOSE: Heart rate variability (HRV) can be employed to give an indication of parasympathetic activity as an index of fatigue. Following two 50 km mountain ultra-marathons, run on the same course but in different years and in differing climatic conditions, HRV was employed to assess fatigue of the runners. The root mean square of successive electrocardiogram R-R intervals (RMSSD), which reflects parasympathetic activity, was employed to give an index of fatigue, where a lower RMSSD value indicates greater fatigue. It was hypothesized that there would be a lower post-race RMSSD in 2014 when there was a greater heat stress relative to post-race RMSSD for the same race in 2015. METHODS: Five males volunteered for the study after an orientation session and completed a medical history, PAR-Q and informed consent forms for the study that was approved by the SFU Office of Research Ethics; one runner competed in both years. In both years, pre-race, and immediate post-race heart rate RMSSD was collected using chest heart rate straps and fitness computers. In 2014 the temperature was 22.3 ± 3.4°C (mean ±SD) and the ambient vapor pressure was 10.7 ± 0.3 mm Hg. For the 2015 race the temperature was 12.9 ± 4.5°C and ambient vapor pressure was 10.4 mm Hg. From each volunteer a 5 min section of the R-R data was analyzed using online software for HRV. The statistical analysis included a 2 factor non-repeated ANOVA with factors of Year (2014 and 2015) and Race Day Time (Pre-Race and Post-Race). The p-value set a 0.05. RESULTS: For RMSSD the main effect of Year (F=0.1, p=0.740) was not significant whereas there was a trend for an effect of Race Day Time (F=2.9, p=0.1). Pre-race RMSSD in 2014 was 34.7 ± 9.7 ms and the post-race RMSSD in 2014 was 19.3 ± 17.1 ms. In 2015, pre-race was 35.5 ± 18.1 ms, whereas the post-race value 23.9 ± 6.1 ms. CONCLUSION: The hypothesis that there would be a lower post-race RMSSD in 2014 when there was a greater heat stress compared to the same race in 2015 was not supported by the data.

Supported by NSERC and CFI.

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