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Critical Velocity during Intermittent Running with Changes of Direction


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: February 2019 - Volume 51 - Issue 2 - p 308–314
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000001774

Purpose We tested the hypothesis that critical velocity (CV) during intermittent running with changes of direction is reliably and accurately identified from a simple shuttle field test. We also tested the hypothesis that CV during intermittent running with changes of direction running is not equivalent to continuous linear running.

Methods Young adults performed a custom shuttle test of intermittent sprint running to reveal CV. Sprints were 18.3 m per direction, with rest between sprints of 15 s for 3 min, 10 s for 2 min, and no rest for 2 min (7 min total). To test reliability, the CV shuttle test (CVST) was performed twice. To test validity, blood lactate was assessed during two separate trials inclusive of 5% above or below CVST end velocity. To explore task specificity, CV during CVST was compared to CV obtained from three linear running time trials.

Results Total distance and CSVT end test velocity were similar between visits (864 ± 21 m and 3.23 ± 0.13 m·s−1 vs 900 ± 30 m and 3.21 ± 0.15 m·s−1, respectively). At 5% above CVST end velocity, all subjects failed to complete 20 min and had unstable blood lactate values. A steady state blood lactate profile was observed during trials 5% below end velocity and all subjects completed the trial. The CV from the CVST was lower than the CV from linear running (△ −17% ± 6%), highlighting the importance of test specificity for threshold determination.

Conclusions The CVST provides a reliable and accurate determination of CV and can be used by coaches, athletes, and trainers to better understand the physiological impact specific to practice or competitions involving intermittent change of direction running.

Nike Sport Research Lab, Nike, Inc., Beaverton, OR

Address for correspondence: Brett Kirby, Ph.D., Nike Sport Research Lab, Nike, Inc., One Bowerman Drive, Beaverton, OR 97006; E-mail:

Submitted for publication April 2018.

Accepted for publication August 2018.

© 2019 American College of Sports Medicine