Factors associated with high-level endurance performance: An expert consensus derived via the Delphi technique

Magdalena J Konopka*, Maurice P Zeegers, Paul A Solberg, Louis Delhaije, Romain Meeusen, Geert Ruigrok, Gerard Rietjens, Billy Sperlich

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

There is little agreement on the factors influencing endurance performance. Endurance performance often is described by surrogate variables such as maximum oxygen consumption, lactate threshold, and running economy. However, other factors also determine success and progression of high-level endurance athletes. Therefore, the aim was to identify the relevant factors for endurance performance assessed by international experts by adhering to a structured communication method (i.e., Delphi technique). Three anonymous evaluation rounds were conducted initiated by a list of candidate factors (n = 120) serving as baseline input variables. The items that achieved ≥70% of agreement in round 1 were re-evaluated in a second round. Items with a level of agreement of ≥70% in round 2 reached consensus and items with a level of agreement of 40-69% in round 2 were re-rated in a third round followed by a consensus meeting. Round 1 comprised of 27 panellists (n = 24 male) and in round 2 and 3 18 (n = 15 male) of the 27 panellists remained. Thus, the final endurance expert panel comprised of 18 international experts (n = 15 male) with 20 years of experience on average. The consensus report identified the following 26 factors: endurance capacity, running economy, maximal oxygen consumption, recovery speed, carbohydrate metabolism, glycolysis capacity, lactate threshold, fat metabolism, number of erythrocytes, iron deficiency, muscle fibre type, mitochondrial biogenesis, hydrogen ion buffering, testosterone, erythropoietin, cortisol, hydration status, vitamin D deficiency, risk of non-functional overreaching and stress fracture, healing function of skeletal tissue, motivation, stress resistance, confidence, sleep quality, and fatigue. This study provides an expert-derived summary including 26 key factors for endurance performance, the "FENDLE" factors (FENDLE = Factors for ENDurance Level). This consensus report may assist to optimize sophisticated diagnostics, personalized training strategies and technology.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0279492
Number of pages15
JournalPLOS ONE
Volume17
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 Dec 2022

Keywords

  • Humans
  • Male
  • Consensus
  • Delphi Technique
  • Nutritional Status
  • Running
  • Lactic Acid

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