Purpose: To compare the classic physiological variables linked to endurance performance (V˙O2max, %V˙O2max at lactate threshold (LT), and running economy (RE)) with peak treadmill velocity (PTV) as predictors of performance in a 16-km time trial.
Methods: Seventeen healthy, well-trained distance runners (10 males and 7 females) underwent laboratory testing to determine maximal oxygen uptake (V˙O2max), RE, percentage of maximal oxygen uptake at the LT (%V˙O2max at LT), running velocity at LT, and PTV. Velocity at V˙O2max (vV˙O2max) was calculated from RE and V˙O2max. Three stepwise regression models were used to determine the best predictors (classic vs treadmill performance protocols) for the 16-km running time trial.
Results: Simple Pearson correlations of the variables with 16-km performance showed vV˙O2max to have the highest correlation (r = −0.972) and %V˙O2max at the LT the lowest (r = 0.136). The correlation coefficients for LT, V˙O2max, and PTV were very similar in magnitude (r = −0.903 to r = −0.892). When V˙O2max, %V˙O2max at LT, RE, and PTV were entered into SPSS stepwise analysis, V˙O2max explained 81.3% of the total variance, and RE accounted for an additional 10.7%. vV˙O2max was shown to be the best predictor of the 16-km performance, accounting for 94.4% of the total variance. The measured velocity at V˙O2max (PTV) was highly correlated with the estimated velocity at vV˙O2max (r = 0.8867).
Conclusions: Among well-trained subjects heterogeneous in V˙O2max and running performance, vV˙O2max is the best predictor of running performance because it integrates both maximal aerobic power and the economy of running. The PTV is linked to the same physiological variables that determine vV˙O2max.