Exertion regulation, secret behind marathon runners lasting the course

August 13th, 2008 - 2:48 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Aug 13 (ANI): Marathon runners possess an underlying exertion regulation mechanism that helps them successfully complete the gruelling long run, says a group of researchers.

Scientists Jonathan Esteve-Lanao and Alejandro Lucia at the European University of Madrid and colleagues at the VU University-Amsterdam and the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse investigated the physiological methods employed by the marathon runners, to regulate the great physical strain and effort during the race.

Esteve-Lanao and colleagues assessed the heart response of 211 middle- and long-distance runners during running competitions ranging in length from five to 100 km.

They found throughout the course of the races, the runners” heart rate increased in a very controlled way, which appeared to be scaled to the distance of the race.

The findings support the notion that athletes actively manage the increasing strain on their body, in anticipation of reaching the finish line, constantly reassessing their levels of fatigue.

Peripheral muscle fatigue, for example, would be highly regulated, with the working muscles giving continuous sensory feedback to the central nervous system to ensure that muscle fatigue is confined within a threshold, above which potentially dangerous consequences especially muscle damage could occur.

The heart rate response was very similar in all the participants despite the wide variations in competition ability and running performance.

The scientists conclude that athletes actively control their relative physiological strain during competition proportionally to the length of the race.

The study appears in the open-access journal PLoS ONE. (ANI)

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