Purpose: The aim of this study was to investigate whether providing incorrect distance feedback would alter pacing strategies, perceived exertion, and heart rate during 20-km cycling time trials (TT).
Methods: Well-trained cyclists (N=15) performed a peak power output (PPO) test, familiarization trial, and four 20-km cycling TT during which they were provided with only distance feedback using 1-km distance splits. For the control trial, subjects received accurate feedback at each kilometer split. In the increase trial, they received inaccurate feedback at 0.775 km for the first kilometer split with the distance increasing by 25 m each subsequent split up to 1.25 km in the final kilometer split. For the decrease trial, inaccurate feedback was provided at 1.25 km for the first kilometer split with the distance decreasing by 25 m each subsequent split up to 0.775 km in the final split. For the random trial, distance splits were randomized.
Results: No significant differences were found in the finishing times between trials. Pacing strategies were unaltered as suggested by similar power output profiles during all trials. RPE scores were also similar for all trials. However, average heart rate varied significantly between trials (P<0.05).
Conclusions: These results suggest that exercise performance, pacing strategy, and RPE during a 20-km cycling TT are not altered by incorrect distance feedback. The data supported the existence of a pacing strategy that is set before exercise and that is unaffected by external distance feedback.