For efforts lasting longer than 4 minutes, it’s generally accepted that an even pacing strategy works best. But that might not be the case for endurance competition. A study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology put this pacing technique to the test with cyclists who compete in 20 kilometer events.
Researchers had 15 experience cyclists complete 3 self-paced 20 KM time trials before having them try to maintain a steady pace for the entire 20 KM. Even though the intensity of this steady pace race was matched to their best self-paced effort 9 subjects were unable to complete the event due to a more rapid buildup of blood lactate.
True Strength Moment: In the case of endurance events, distributing the work at an uneven parabolic pace allows competitors to exceed their maximum sustainable power output. So start fast, take a breather and finish big.