Purpose: The purpose of this study was to investigate neuromuscular characteristics and muscle power as determinants of distance running performance.
Methods: Seventeen male endurance athletes performed a 5-km time trial (5K) that included three separate constant-velocity 200-m laps during the course and a maximal 20-m speed (V20m) test on an indoor track, and running economy (RE) tests on a treadmill and on the track. Maximal anaerobic (MART) and aerobic running tests on the treadmill were used to determine maximal velocity in the MART (VMART), maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max), peak treadmill performance (VO2max demand), and respiratory compensation threshold (RCT).
Results: Velocity in the 5K (V5K) correlated positively (P < 0.05) with VO2max, VO2max demand, RCT, and RE, as well as with V20m and VMART. Regression analysis showed that RCT, track RE, and VMART were the most important determinants of V5K. V5K also correlated (P < 0.05) with contact times (CT) and stride rates in the maximal 20-m run (r = -0.49 and 0.58, respectively), as well as with the mean CT of the constant velocity laps during the 5K (r = -0.50). VMART correlated significantly with peak blood lactate concentration in MART (r = 0.59, P < 0.05), V20m (r = 0.87, P < 0.001), and CT in the maximal 20-m run (r = -0.61, P < 0.01).
Conclusions: We conclude that neuromuscular characteristics and VMART were related to 5-km running performance in well trained endurance athletes. Relationships between VMART and neuromuscular and anaerobic characteristics suggest that VMART can be used as a measure of muscle power in endurance athletes.