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Quantifying training in endurance running

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  • Full or part time
    Dr P Hayes
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round

Project Description

In order for exercise prescription to be optimal it should be based upon scientific principles and an understanding of the dose-response nature of the training methods employed. The extent to which this is true has been questioned (Myburgh 2003). Calvert and colleagues (1976) developed a method for quantifying the dose arising from an acute training session. They proposed that each acute training session has two effects; one is positive, the response to the training i.e. the physiological adaptations generated, the other is fatigue, a negative response. Athletes who train on a regular basis accumulate both the positive and negative effects. Both effects fade over time, with fatigue fading more rapidly than the adaptations. A complex interaction over time, between the positive and negative effects represents the response or adaptation to training. Numerous studies have attempted to model these responses arising from training, using the accumulated positive and negative values from each acute training session. Rather than quantifying the training load, most studies have focused on modelling the response to training, with limited success.

The acute training load has been calculated through a number of different methods which are predominantly based on heart rate. However, using heart rate precludes quantifying anaerobic activities. Recently, we devised a theoretical method to quantify training load that will account for both aerobic and anaerobic activity (Hayes and Quinn 2009). This PhD would begin by validating this theoretical model against existing approaches. Initially, it would be laboratory based to provide a more controlled environment before progressing to field based studies. Based on these studies, individual training programmes will be monitored to determine if the training load of these programmes can be used to model the resulting response. A final study will manipulate the training load of different training programmes to examine the dose-response relationship.

Funding Notes

This studentship is only open to self-funding candidates. Self-funding candidates are expected to pay University fees and to provide their own living costs. In addition, a ‘bench fee’ will have to be paid to cover project running costs (at a level that will be determined specifically for each project).


Hayes, P.R., and Quinn, M.D. (2009). A mathematical model for quantifying training. European Journal of Applied Physiology 106 (6): 839-847.

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