Assessment of Oxygen Deficit in Collegiate Runners During Steady State Exercise

Student Author(s)

Rachael Webb
Cameron Jones

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Mark Northuis, Kinesiology

Document Type


Event Date



Oxygen deficit (OD) for the same absolute workload intensity decreases with aerobic training through improved aerobic metabolism and likewise increases with detraining. It is unclear if the amount of increase in OD with detraining is the same in middle distance (MD) and long distance (LD) runners and what training related OD changes occur in these groups with subsequent retraining. In order to compare and contrast the changes in OD values of collegiate MD and LD runners which accompany a post-competitive season cessation of training and subsequent endurance retraining, fourteen members of the collegiate track team (7 MD and 7 LD) runners completed a steady-state treadmill test (SS) at their gender-specific mean 5k velocity (15.3 kph for females and 18.5 kph for males) at the conclusion of their track season followed by 3 additional SS tests at 2-week intervals. Participants did not train between SS1 and SS2 and performed identical prescribed training programs between SS2 and SS4. VO2 steady state was identified as the breakpoint of the second phase of the OD curve. OD area under the curve comparisons were made using a 2x4 repeated measures ANOVA. We found that MD demonstrated a significant decrease in VO2 at SS pace over the 6-week study resulting in a reduction in their mean OD (6.4%) versus LD (-0.5%) (P< .01). Mean anaerobic contributions to reach SS were greater in LD than MD (36.9% vs. 32.2%) at the end of 4-weeks of retraining (P< .01). In conclusion, there are differences in OD patterns that accompany both detraining and endurance retraining in collegiate MD and LD runners. LD runners were more aerobically challenged than MD to maintain SS velocity after detraining and may require a greater volume of anaerobic training than MD runners during the early retraining phase in order to retain a faster training pace.


This research was supported by the Henderson Family Research Grant and the Constantine Family Research Grant.

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