London, England
Wednesday 23rd November 2011
Whilst I was treating one of my sprinters earlier this week, the topic came up about her ability to last the pace in hard, fast track sessions.  As a female athlete in a mixed group, she commented that in the harder sessions, she is able to outlast the guys in her group, when they are "dying" towards the end of hard reps.  Now, granted, the girl in question is a ridiculously talented young lady but at the same time the guys in her group are no slouches either.  Her feeling was that she warmed-up a lot harder & at a greater intensity than anyone else in her group - & she may not be too wide of the mark if a recent article is to be believed.

Whilst there are obviously several explanations for this eventuality, based around how her physiology has adapted over time, the statement about the warm-up intensity jogged my mind back to an abstract I read last week.  The abstract was summarising a study conducted by de la Cruz, Brennenraedts & Bury, which was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine earlier this year & looked at the intensity of warm-up in relation to the time to exhaustion at maximum aerobic speed.  

The study concluded that an intense warm-up, defined as 15 minutes of warm up at 55% VO2 max then 5 minutes of (speed at lactate threshold 1 speed at OBLA*)/2 resulted in a higher time to exhaustion at maximal aerobic speed in comparison to a lower intensity warm-up (20 minutes of warm-up at 55% VO2 max) or following no warm-up at all.  The authors hypothesised that the results were the result of a faster cardiovascular adaptation to the demands of the work exposure following the warm-up.

So, is this the most likely reason?  Well, it must be noted that I am talking about an elite female sprinter (early twenties) & the study population consisted of 11 male, middle distance athletes with an average age of 30 - not exactly data that can be appropriately extrapolated to the athlete I was discussing this with, given the expected differences in physiology.  However, the theory behind the study does suggest a plausible explanation that would be worth further investigation in a different population.

To read the abstract for yourself, click on the link below (& if any of you can find the original, full PDF of the article, I would be really grateful if you could share it with us!!!!)

*OBLA - onset of blood lactate accumulation
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