Distance-dependent association of affect with pacing strategy in cycling time trials.

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The psychological construct of affect is proposed to significantly contribute to pacing decisions during exercise. Borg’s Ratings of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale, another important regulator of work-rate, is criticised as an inadequate measure of the multiple perceptual responses experienced. This study aimed to examine power output distribution and associated changes in affect, self-efficacy, perceptual cues, heart rate and respiratory gases during both 16.1 km and 40 km self-paced cycling time trials (TT). Secondly, the differentiation between physical perceptions of exertion and sense of effort in self-paced exercise was investigated. Method: Fifteen trained male cyclists completed 16.1 km and 40 km TT using a CompuTrainer cycle ergometer. Time, power output distribution, affect, self-efficacy, physical RPE (P-RPE), task effort and awareness (TEA), heart rate and respiratory gases were measured throughout each TT. Linear mixed models explored associations of these variables with power output distribution, and the relationship between P-RPE and TEA. Results: Similar pacing strategies were adopted in the 16.1 km and 40 km TT (p = 0.31) and main effects were found for affect (p = 0.001) and respiratory exchange ratio (RER) (p < 0.001). Interactions between affect (p = 0.037), and RER (p = 0.004), with condition indicated closer associations with power output distribution in 16.1 km than 40 km TT. P-RPE was not significantly different from TEA (p = 0.053). Conclusion: A significant association between affect and power output distribution suggests that affective responses are task-dependent even in self-paced exercise, and a greater association is demonstrated in higher-intensity, 16.1 km TT. Furthermore, physical perceptions of exertion are not clearly differentiated from sense of effort in self-paced exercise.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)825-832
Number of pages8
JournalMedicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
Issue number4
Early online date1 Apr 2015
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2015


  • affective valence
  • exercise regulation
  • perceived exertion
  • power output
  • sense of effort

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