Knowledge and Strategies of Heat Acclimation and Heat Acclimatization in Elite Runners

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Kigen, Erick Kipkoech
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Middle Tennessee State University
ABSTRACT Events such as the Summer Olympic Games and the World Athletic Championships are held each year in hot and humid conditions. Heat stress negatively affects endurance performance and imposes safety concerns for elite runners. The purpose of this dissertation was to highlight heat acclimation (HA) and heat acclimatization (HAz) knowledge and strategies in elite middle- and long-distance runners from Kenya and the United States (US). In the first study, elite runners were surveyed on their HA and HAz knowledge and their history of exertional heat illness (EHI). In the second study, strategies of both HA and HAz and how the runners perceived their effectiveness were investigated. Participants (N =30) were recruited through an email sent directly to the elite runners or coaches and completed an online survey. Knowledge scores were similar for Kenya (M = 50.0, SD = 15.1) and US (M = 57.6, SD = 16.5) runners (mean difference = -7.53, 95% CL [ -20.23, 5.16]). The were no significant differences in HA and HAz strategies used (p > .05). Perceptions of effectiveness were similar for the Kenya (M = 6.7, SD = 1.9) and US (M = 8.0, SD = 1.5) runners (mean difference = -1.26, 95% CL [ -2.60, 0.08]). Overall, there were no significant differences between the US and the Kenya elite middle-and long-distance runners in respect to the level of HA and HAz knowledge, reported history and symptoms of EHI, choice of HA and HAz strategies, and how their perceived effectiveness. Coaches and professionals in charge of elite runners should continue to develop comprehensive guidelines and education initiatives on combating heat stress. Universal HA and HAz protocols that adequately prepare elite runners for competitions hot and humid conditions are encouraged.
Elite runners, Heat acclimation(HA), Heat acclimatization(HAz), Hot and humid conditions, Physiological adaptation, Physiological responses, Kinesiology, Health sciences