Multiday ultra-endurance races present athletes with a significant number of physiological and psychological challenges. We examined emotions, the perceived functionality (optimal-dysfunctional) of emotions, strategies to regulate emotions, sleep quality, and energy intakeexpenditure in a four-man team participating in the Race Across AMerica (RAAM); a 4856km continuous cycle race. Cyclists reported experiencing an optimal emotional state for less than 50% of total competition, with emotional states differing significantly between each cyclist over time. Coupled with this emotional disturbance, each cyclist experienced progressively worsening sleep deprivation and daily negative energy balances throughout the RAAM. Cyclists managed less than one hour of continuous sleep per sleep episode, high sleep latency and high percentage moving time. Of note, actual sleep and sleep efficiency were better maintained during longer rest periods, highlighting the importance of a race strategy that seeks to optimise the balance between average cycling velocity and sleep time. Our data suggests that future RAAM cyclists and crew should: 1) identify beliefs on the perceived functionality of emotions in relation to best (functional-optimal) and worst (dysfunctional) performance as the starting point to intervention work; 2) create a plan for support sufficient sleep and recovery; 3) create nutritional strategies that maintain energy intake and thus reduce energy deficits; and 4) prepare for the deleterious effects of sleep deprivation so that they are able to appropriately respond to unexpected stressors and foster functional working interpersonal relationships.
|Number of pages
|Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
|Published - Sept 2013