Original Article

European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 108, Issue 3, pp 567-572

First online:

Pacing accuracy in collegiate and recreational runners

  • J. Matthew GreenAffiliated withDepartment of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, The University of North Alabama Email author 
  • , Amber L. SappAffiliated withDepartment of Kinesiology, The University of Alabama
  • , Robert C. PritchettAffiliated withDepartment of Health Human Performance and Nutrition, Central Washington University
  • , Phil A. BishopAffiliated withDepartment of Kinesiology, The University of Alabama

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To examine runners’ ability to produce a prescribed pace, we compared prescribed versus actual 400 m splits for collegiate (COL, n = 12) and recreational runners (REC, n = 16). Participants completed a VO2max trial and on a 400 m track, three 3,200 m time trials. During three subsequent sessions, participants completed 800 m warm-up; then, based on their fastest 3,200 m steady pace, subjects completed six laps total at three prescribed paces: (a) 2× 400 m at 7% slower than steady pace (SLO), (b) 2× 400 m at steady pace (AT) and (c) 2× 400 m at 7% faster than steady pace (FAS). Instructions were to complete the sets of two laps in prescribed times (e.g., 75 s per 400 m) (no feedback). Deviation scores (absolute value of difference: prescribed vs. actual time) (s) for each 400 m lap were compared using a 2 (group) × 3 (trial) repeated measures ANOVA. Main effects for deviations among trials SLO (7.3 ± 6.5), AT (6.6 ± 6.9) and FAS (6.2 ± 5.7) were not significantly different (p > 0.05). However, group main effect for deviation scores was significantly (p < 0.05) lower (greater accuracy) for COL (2.9 ± 3.2 s) versus REC (9.5 ± 6.6 s). Deviation scores were also significantly different (p < 0.05) for SLO (COL: 3.1 ± 2.7 s, REC: 10.4 ± 6.7 s) and AT (COL: 1.9 ± 1.9 s, REC: 10.1 ± 7.2 s), with a trend for FAS (p = 0.06) (COL: 3.8 ± 4.3 s, REC: 7.9 ± 6.1 s). Bland–Altman plots showed better agreement (prescribed vs. actual) for COL. Experience and fitness of collegiate runners resulted in improved pacing accuracy.


Running splits Pacing Racing Fitness