In order to provide further insight into the link between respiratory frequency (fR) and the rating of perceived exertion (RPE), the present study investigated the effect of exercise duration on perceptual and physiological responses during self-paced exercise. Nine well-trained competitive male cyclists (23 ± 3 years) performed a preliminary incremental ramp test and three randomised self-paced time trials (TTs) differing in exercise duration (10, 20 and 30 min). Both RPE and fR increased almost linearly over time, with a less-pronounced rate of increase when absolute exercise duration increased. However, when values were expressed against relative exercise duration, no between-trial differences were found in either RPE or fR. Conversely, between-trial differences were observed for minute ventilation (.VE), .VO2 and heart rate (HR), when values were expressed against relative exercise duration. Unlike the relationship between RPE and both .VE and HR, the relationship between RPE and fR was not affected by exercise duration. In conclusion, fR, but not .VE, HR or [.VO2, shows a strong relationship to RPE and a similar time course, irrespective of exercise duration. These findings indicate that fR is the best correlate of RPE during self-paced exercise, at least among the parameters and for the range of durations herein investigated.
Keywords: Exercise duration; central command; cycling; pacing strategy; ventilation.