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Differences in Horizontal vs. Uphill Running Performance in Male and Female Swiss World-Class Orienteers

Lauenstein, Sandra; Wehrlin, Jon P.; Marti, Bernard

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: November 2013 - Volume 27 - Issue 11 - p 2952–2958
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31828bf2dc
Original Research

Abstract: Lauenstein, S, Wehrlin, JP, and Marti, B. Differences in horizontal vs. uphill running performance in male and female Swiss world-class orienteers. J Strength Cond Res 27(11): 2952–2958, 2013—In orienteering, athletes must choose the quickest route from point to point, considering if they want to run a longer flat distance rather than a shorter distance with an incline to reach the next point. Our aim was therefore, to determine an athlete's equivalence factor (EF, ratio between horizontal and uphill running performance) enabling coaches to provide individual route choice recommendations during orienteering competition. Ten male and 8 female orienteers performed 1 horizontal (MSThorizontal; 0% incline) and 1 uphill (MSTuphill; 22% incline) maximal running stage test to exhaustion on a treadmill in randomized order. The EFs were calculated based on maximal speeds achieved in both tests (MRVhorizontal/uphill). In addition, V[Combining Dot Above]O2peak was measured. MRVhorizontal was 20.4 ± 0.6 and17.3 ± 0.8 km·h−1, and MRVuphill was 8.8 ± 0.7 and 7.2 ± 0.5 km·h−1 (men and women). The EF was 6.3 ± 0.7 and ranged between 5.2 and 7.4. Relative V[Combining Dot Above]O2peakuphill was 69.2 ± 5.7 and 59.1 ± 3.7 ml·kg−1·min−1, whereas V[Combining Dot Above]O2peakhorizontal was lower 66.4 ± 3.5 (p < 0.05) and 55.7 ± 3.1 ml·kg−1·min−1 (p < 0.01) than in V[Combining Dot Above]O2peakuphill. Relative V[Combining Dot Above]O2peakuphill correlated strongly with MRVuphill (men: r = 0.85, p < 0.01; women: r = 0.84, p < 0.01), whereas relative V[Combining Dot Above]O2peakhorizontal showed no strong correlation with MRVhorizontal (men: r = 0.51, p = 0.12; women: r = 0.41, p = 0.32). These data show that there are relevant differences in the relation between uphill and horizontal running capacity in these athletes. Tailoring the route selection to the athletes' advantage based on the relation between their uphill and horizontal running performance and individual EF may positively impact on overall performance in orienteering competition.

Federal Institute for Sports, Section for Elite Sports, Switzerland

Address correspondence to Sandra Lauenstein,

Copyright © 2013 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.