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Keywords:

  • endurance training;
  • endurance performance;
  • predicting training adaptation;
  • autonomic nervous system

The aim of this study was to investigate whether nocturnal heart rate variability (HRV) can be used to predict changes in endurance performance during 28 weeks of endurance training. The training was divided into 14 weeks of basic training (BTP) and 14 weeks of intensive training periods (ITP). Endurance performance characteristics, nocturnal HRV, and serum hormone concentrations were measured before and after both training periods in 28 recreational endurance runners. During the study peak treadmill running speed (Vpeak) improved by 7.5±4.5%. No changes were observed in HRV indices after BTP, but after ITP, these indices increased significantly (HFP: 1.9%, P=0.026; TP: 1.7%, P=0.007). Significant correlations were observed between the change of Vpeak and HRV indices (TP: r=0.75, P<0.001; HFP: r=0.71, P<0.001; LFP: r=0.69, P=0.01) at baseline during ITP. In order to lead to significant changes in HRV among recreational endurance runners, it seems that moderate- and high-intensity training are needed. This study showed that recreational endurance runners with a high HRV at baseline improved their endurance running performance after ITP more than runners with low baseline HRV.