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Hematological and biochemical changes during a short triathlon competition in novice triathletes


Short-course ‘sprint’ triathlons have become popular in recent years, often as a precursor to the longer full-course triathlons. We undertook a study investigating the haematological and biochemical changes that occur in novice triathletes between the start and finish and after each of the three legs of a short sprint triathlon involving swimming, cycling and running. The changes that occurred in the triathlon included a significant (P<0.003) decrease in weight from 71.7 kg, SD 7.9 to 70.3 kg, SD 7.6. Throughout the time span of the triathlon, the white blood cell count increased significantly (P<0.001), as did the platelet count (P<0.005) and plateletcrit (P<0.001). There were no significant changes during the period of the race in any of the other haematological variables measured. The biochemical variables measured were glucose, triglycerides, sodium, potassium, calcium, lactate dehydrogenase, creatinine and aspartate aminotransferase. Triglyceride, calcium and potassium values did not change between the pre- and post-race samplings. All other biochemical parameters showed a significant change (P<0.05 or better). Changes that occurred in the haematological and biochemical parameters between stages were many and varied. There was also a significant change in plasma volume during the swimming event (P< 0.001), but this returned to normal during the later stages of the triathlon. In conclusion the changes that occurred during the triathlon were many and were similar to those reported elsewhere in the literature for longer events. The novice triathletes who participated, found this short triathlon to be as stressful as the full-course triathlon is for the more experienced athlete. We feel, however, that this type of event is useful as a precursor to the longer type of events.

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Correspondence to Lars Mc Naughton.

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Long, D., Blake, M., Naughton, L.M. et al. Hematological and biochemical changes during a short triathlon competition in novice triathletes. Eur J Appl Physiol 61, 93–99 (1990).

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Key words

  • Novice
  • Short triathlon
  • Blood profile
  • Biochemical variables
  • Plasma volume