Objectives: To investigate whether self-reported health complaints and choice of heat stress prevention strategies during the taper predicted peaking at an athletics championship in hot conditions. Design: Cohort study. Methods: Data on health and heat stress prevention were collected before the 2015 World Athletics Championship in Beijing, China. Peaking was defined using the athlete's pre-competition ranking and final competition rank. Baseline and endpoint data were fitted into multiple logic regression models. Results: Two hundred forty-five (29%) of 841 eligible athletes participated. Both sprint/power (Odds ratio (OR) 0.33 (95% Confidence interval (CI) 0.11 to 0.94), P = 0.038) and endurance/combined events (OR 0.38 (95% CI 0.14 to 1.00), P = 0.049) athletes having sustained concern-causing health complaints during the taper were less likely to peak. Endurance/combined events athletes who chose pre-cooling to mitigate heat stress were less likely to peak (OR 0.35 (95% CI 0.15 to 0.80), P = 0.013), while sprint/power athletes reporting a sudden-onset injury complaint during the taper displayed increased peaking (OR 4.47 (95% CI 1.28 to 15.59), P = 0.019). Conclusions: Health complaints that caused the athlete concern during the taper were predictive of failure to peak at a major athletics competition. Sprint/power athletes who experienced an acute injury symptom during the taper appeared to benefit from rest. Pre-cooling strategies seem to require further validation during real-world endurance/combined events. It appears that athletics athletes’ self-reported health should be monitored during the taper, concerns addressed, and heat stress prevention strategies individually tested before championships in hot conditions.
Timpka, T., Périard, J. D., Spreco, A., Dahlström, Ö., Jacobsson, J., Bargoria, V., … Racinais, S. (2020). Health complaints and heat stress prevention strategies during taper as predictors of peaked athletic performance at the 2015 World Athletics Championship in hot conditions. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 23(4), 336–341. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsams.2019.10.024