K. Sanchez, C. Brewer

Eastern Washington University, Cheney, WA

The pre-season aerobic capacity (VO2max) of cross-country (XC) runners influences race performance (RP), yet research is limited on the association of VO2peak with race placement (R-PL). Energy intake (EI; kcal), percent body fat (%BF), and perceived social support (PSS) also influence RP; thus, pre-season evaluations may have practical implications for resolving deficits before competition. PURPOSE: To examine associations between pre-season VO2peak and RP in XC runners. Sufficiency of EI, %BF, and PSS were also assessed. METHODS: Division I male (M; n=10; 19.7 ± .7 yrs) and female (F; n=8; 18.5 ± .9 yrs) XC runners completed a maximal graded treadmill test to establish VO2peak. The Automated Self-Administered 24-hour Dietary Assessment Tool (ASA24®) estimated daily EI. Air displacement plethysmography (BOD POD®) estimated %BF. The 16-item Perceived Available Support in Sport Questionnaire (PASS-Q) assessed PSS. Two weeks post-testing, athletes competed in their first race (M: 5.75-km; F: 4-km). RP measures included race time (RT; min) and R-PL (M: 85 total competitors; F: 79 total competitors). Descriptive statistics were calculated for all variables, and simple linear regression tested for associations between VO2peak and RP measures. Sufficiency of EI was determined by estimating daily energy expenditure from body composition and daily activity level. RESULTS: Relative VO2peak (M: 68.6 ± 3.6; F: 55.1 ± 4.4 ml/kg/min) significantly predicted R-PL among total competitors (M: 48.3 ± 23.2; F: 37.6 ± 15.2) in males (β = -.646, p = .044) and females (β = -.738, p = .038). Relative VO2peak was not a significant predictor of RT (M: 20.2 ± .9; F: 16.2 ± 1.2 min) in males (p > .05) but was in females (β = -.758, p = .029). Insufficient EI was observed in 73% of athletes. Deficits averaged 532 ± 983 (M) and 522 ± 669 kcal/day (F). Males achieved a risky %BF (5.9 ± 4.1%), while females were in healthy range (20 ± 5.8%). Athletes reported adequate PSS (M: 12.4 ± 2.1; F: 13 ± 1.3). CONCLUSION: This study suggests that VO2peak is a predictor of R-PL in XC runners; yet, additional variables have further practical implications. The caloric deficit observed across athletes and risky %BF in males suggest these constructs should be addressed in the pre-season. Future research should assess these factors and their contribution to RP over a XC season.

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