THE MONITORING OF TRAINING AND RECOVERY IN ELITE CROSS-COUNTRY SKIERS

  • W. Pulkkinen
  • R.E. Thayer
  • M. McPherson

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to monitor and assess the current training program of elite cross-country skiers over an 8 week period, in order to develop a comprehensive profile of elite cross-country skiers. This was performed by: i) examining the relationship between the Overstress Monitoring Inventory to both resting values of heart rate and blood pressure; ii) observing the training responses of skiers over time to physiological, biochemical and performance variables; iii) observing the contrasting effects of physiological, biochemical and performance variables to a 4 and 8 day taper. Ten elite cross country skiers participated in the study and performed endurance training 10-24 hours per week. Following 8 weeks of training, subjects were divided into two groups, and reduced training volume by 50% for 4 and 8 days respectively. Physiological and biochemical measurements were obtained to assess the effects of 8 weeks of endurance training and the impact of a 4 and 8 day taper. Psychological measurements were assessed with the use of a 29 question inventory prepared by Cross-Country Canada. Biomechanical and Performance evaluations consisted of both a mini timing study and technique analysis. Subjects were required to free-style ski a 5 km course and were videotaped while skiing for one complete cycle for a 5% grade for 30 metres. Tapes were then digitized and analyzed for kinematic parameters of cycle rate, time and length. Differences were found in maximal heart rate (p < 0.05) and haemoglobin (p <0.005) levels following 4 and 8 weeks of training. Both the %VO2max (at lactate threshold) and CPK levels demonstrated inverse differences with %VO2max increasing (p < 0.05) and CPK decreasing (p < 0.05) following 4 weeks of training. For cortisol, significant differences (p < 0.05) were only observed between groups following 4 and 8 days of taper. Testosterone levels profiled a similar response as cortisol, with marked changes (p<0.01) between groups after the 4 and 8 day taper. Both treadmill time to exhaustion and VO2max, values increased significantly (p < 0.05) after the 8 day taper. Mean scores of kinematic parameters failed to identify any significant variations throughout the period of the study. It is concluded that the skiers examined in the study demonstrated improvements in physiological, biochemical and performance evaluations following 8 weeks of endurance training. The 8 days of reduced training showed a greater improvement in physiological, biochemical and performance evaluations than 4 days of reduced training.
Section
Coaching and Sports Activities