This study aimed to evaluate the effect of head pre-cooling on the 5-km time-trial performance of amateur runners in the heat. In a counterbalanced design, 15 male amateur runners (22.6 ± 3.5 y; VO2 max in heat 42.3 ± 4.4 mLO2/kg/min) completed two 5-km time trials performed in the heat (35°C, 50% relative humidity). In one trial (HCOOL), participants underwent 20 min of head cooling in a temperate environment (23°C, 70% relative humidity) prior to exercise. In another trial (CON), exercise was preceded by 20 min of rest under the same temperature conditions. Exercise time was shorter in HCOOL (25 min and 36 s ± 3 min) compared to CON (27 ± 3 min; p = 0.02). Rectal temperature was reduced during the pre-exercise intervention in HCOOL (p < 0.001), but not in CON (p = 0.55). Relative changes in rectal temperature and mean head temperature were lower throughout HCOOL when compared with CON condition (p = 0.005 and p = 0.022, respectively). Mean skin temperature, heart rate, and rating of perceived exertion did not differ between HCOOL and CON conditions throughout exercise (p = 0.20, p = 0.52 and 0.31, respectively). Thermal comfort was lower in HCOOL condition in pre-exercise (p = 0.014) with no differences observed throughout exercise (p = 0.61). 5-km running performance in a hot environment was improved after a 20-min head cooling intervention, suggesting that this method may be practical as pre-cooling strategy and easily administered to both professional and amateur runners alike.
- endurance exercise