Positioning Among Endurance Athletes At The Olympics

Positioning Among Endurance Athletes At The Olympics

Positioning Among Endurance Athletes At The Olympics

Courtesy of WOWSA. Drs. Joseph Duke, Robert Chapman, Joel Stager and Timothy Mickleborough of Indiana University reported very interesting findings at the 57th annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland.

They looked at the execution of racing strategy in the 800-meter, 1500-meter, 5K and 10K runs at the 2008 Beijing Olympics – and how intra-race positioning and a finishing sprint corresponded to the final placing among the world-class track athletes.

They investigated the 100-meter split times in each of these four races via a wireless transponder chip that was placed in each athlete’s bib number for both the men and women.

Among their interesting findings, they concluded that the male medalists were in different positions at each segment of the race between the 800-meter race and the 10K and between the 5K and 10K. The female medalists positioned themselves differently between the 800-meter race, the 5K and the 10K and also between the 1500-meter race and the 5K.

The male 800-meter medalists spent a significantly larger percentage of the race in the top 3 (83%) compared to the medalists in the 1500-meter (33%) and the 10K (32%). The female medalists had the fastest final 400-meter splits in all events – and the gold medalists had the fastest final 400-meter splits of all competitors. Medalists in the men’s events only had the fastest final 400-meter splits in the 1500-meter and 10K.

Based on the data, the team from Indiana found the position strategy in the track events in Beijing differs between events and gender. Medalists in the shorter events typically move into medal position earlier than those in the longer events while medalists in the longer events tend to rely on a final sprint.

A similar research study was conducted by WOWSA based on the strategies taken by the medalists at the 2005, 2007 and 2009 World Swimming Championships 5K, 10K and 25K races. But the conclusions of Drs. Duke, Chapman, Stager and Mickleborough based on the tactics and pacing used by Olympic runners are not surprisingly similar to the positioning and pacing used by elite marathon swimmers in world championship and Olympic competitions.

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Steven Munatones