Share this article on:

Effects of Training-Induced Fatigue on Pacing Patterns in 40-km Cycling Time Trials


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: March 2015 - Volume 47 - Issue 3 - p 593–600
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000000439
Applied Sciences

Introduction In some endurance sports, athletes complete several competitions within a short period, resulting in accumulated fatigue. It is unclear whether fatigued athletes choose the same pacing pattern (PP) as when they have recovered.

Purpose This study aimed to analyze effects of fatigue on PP of cyclists during a 40-km time trial (TT).

Methods Twenty-three male cyclists (28.8 ± 7.6 yr) completed three 40-km TT on a cycle ergometer. TT were conducted before (TT1) and after (TT2) a 6-d training period. A third TT was carried out after 72 h of recovery (TT3). Training days consisted of two cycling sessions: mornings, 1 h at 95% of lactate threshold or 3 × 5 × 30 s all-out sprint; afternoons, 3 h at 80% individual anaerobic threshold. Four-kilometer split times (min) and RPE were recorded during TT.

Results Performance decreased from TT1 to TT2 (65.7 ± 3.5 vs 66.7 ± 3.3 min; P < 0.05) and increased from TT2 to TT3 (66.7 ± 3.3 vs 65.5 ± 3.3 min; P < 0.01). PP showed a significant difference between TT1 and TT2 (P < 0.001) as well as between TT2 and TT3 (P < 0.01). PP in TT1 and TT3 showed no significant difference (P > 0.05). In TT1 and TT3, cyclists started faster in the first 4 km compared with TT2. RPE course showed no significant difference between TT (P > 0.05).

Conclusions Fatigue reversibly changes the PP of cyclists during a 40-km TT. Participants reduced their power output until premature exhaustion seemed very unlikely. This supports the assumption that pacing includes a combination of anticipation and feedback mechanisms.

1Institute of Sports and Preventive Medicine, Saarland University, Saarbrücken, GERMANY; 2Institute of Sports Science, Johannes-Gutenberg University, Mainz, GERMANY; 3Faculty of Sports Science, Ruhr-University of Bochum, Bochum, GERMANY; and 4School of Human Movement Studies and School of Psychology, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, AUSTRALIA

Address for correspondence: Sabrina Skorski, Institute of Sports and Preventive Medicine, Saarland University, Campus Bldg. B8.2, 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany; E-mail:

Submitted for publication January 2014.

Accepted for publication June 2014.

© 2015 American College of Sports Medicine