M. Waldrip, J. DeWinkler, A. Hulubei, L. Loe, A. Wood, A. Vahk, K. Taylor

Eastern Washington University, Cheney, WA

The marathon is considered to be a physiologically strenuous endurance event that has yet to be completed in under 2 hours. A mechanism of pacing and/or a human pacer may be employed to achieve a desirable pace. The Central Governor Theory indicates that despite the maximal physiological effort given, energy is reserved by the central nervous system to prevent total physiological failure. Researchers have noted a 2% increase in cyclists’ performance when the participant is blinded to the intensity. PURPOSE: To determine if blinded pacing would increase performance of a 1-mile time-to-completion run without an increase in rate of perceived exertion (RPE). METHODS: One female runner (age=19 years, height=162.2 cm, weight=56.3 kg) completed 3 separate maximal 1-mile run trials. Trial 1 (T1) was an independent run to establish a control pace (CP) by the participant. In trial 2 (T2) the run was completed with a pacer matching the CP and in trial 3 (T3) the pacer ran 2% faster than the CP. In T2 and T3, the participant was blinded to the pacer’s run time and instructed to match the pace being set. In all trials, heart rate (HR) was recorded pre- and post-trial and compared to the participant’s age predicted maximal HR as a marker of intensity. Additionally, time to completion and RPE using the Borg’s 6-20 scale was recorded. Percent change for time was calculated. RESULTS: In T2 (428 seconds), the participant ran faster than T1 (433 seconds) by 1.2 % and reported a similar level of exertion (RPE T1=18, T2=17). In T3 (427 seconds), although the RPE was the same as T1, the participant ran 1.4% faster than the CP. HR measures in all trials indicated maximal effort (HR T1=198, T2=194, T3=195 bpm). CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest an increased performance without an increase in RPE occurs with blind pacing, yet the study did not produce a 2% increase in performance as was predicted. However, these findings are limited in their generalizability due to the nature of the study design. Future research would be beneficial with an increased sample of athletes and a randomized crossed-over design to enhance validity. Further research investigating this phenomenon with increased distances would be valuable to help determine the impact of blind pacing on the pursuit of the sub 2-hour marathon.

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