Methodological developments for the monitoring and assessment of training load, performance and health status in Welsh endurance athletes (PhD Scholarship)


Methodological developments for the monitoring and assessment of training load, performance and health status in Welsh endurance athletes

Project Team:             Michael Hughes, PhD (Cardiff Metropolitan University)

Richard Webb, PhD (Cardiff Metropolitan University)

Rebecca Aicheler, PhD (Cardiff Metropolitan University)

Paul Smith, PhD (Cardiff Metropolitan University)

Daniel Farmer (Sport Wales)

Brian Hughes (Sport Wales)

Tom Cullen, PhD (Coventry University; Technical advisor)

Project Outline:

The healthy and effective response to exercise training in elite athletes is often hard to determine as excessive and insufficient training will lead to poor performance. Excessive training may often only be recognised when athletes become ill or injured and, as such, coaches and athletes are always striking the balance between correct and incorrect prescription of training. However, no objective programme of assessment of training currently exists for Welsh endurance athletes and the aim of this project is to develop such a scheme. It is intended that the results of the study will enable greater optimisation of training, thus raising the profile and performance of these sports and the athletes, leading to greater competitive success and potentially raising participation levels at ‘grass-roots level’.

Sport Wales wishes to develop a programme for the monitoring of health and performance of Welsh endurance athletes in Athletics and Triathlon. It is intended that this programme will enhance knowledge of the effects of participating in endurance activity and that this information can be fed back to amateur athletes, coaches and other stakeholders in order to improve current practices. This monitoring programme should provide information that is: retrospective on past training, current on performance & health status, prospective on training & the health of the athletes. The work in this study will build on previous research (Cullen et al., 2017) from our team investigating the response to training in swimming.

The aims will be achieved through the following objectives:

  1. To establish and collate current knowledge in the literature, whilst considering practices from other sports and research groups.
  2. To establish, develop and refine the programme of monitoring and assessment using the athletes’ training activities.
  • By linking with the regular fitness assessments, the student will also seek to establish the acute responses to training sessions.
  1. Using the following methods: subjective ratings; objective assessment of biomarkers of fatigue and exercise stress (e.g., IL-6 and its soluble receptor, sIL-6R); objective assessment of training load (e., duration, intensity of training) the student will investigate associations between well-being, training load and fitness development
  2. Using in-vitro techniques, the student will carry out an investigation of the potential mechanisms which link exercise to IL-6 release and the change in circulating sIL-6R levels.

The ideal candidate should have:

  1. a related postgraduate qualification,
  2. experience of biochemistry techniques,
  • experience of working with high-level athletes in either a coaching or support capacity.

But applications from those without all of these attributes are also welcomed.

The nature of the study dictates that some work in unsociable hours will be expected. The candidate should have excellent communication skills and be passionate about the subject area.

Application Deadline:  26th August

Proposed work as detailed below:

WP1: Carry out extensive literature review of training monitoring in endurance athletes and the use of related biomarkers.

WP2: Learn analytical and data collection techniques.

WP3: Develop and implement programme of monitoring and fitness assessment in the athletes, while providing frequent feedback to athletes and coaches.

WP4: Perform in-vitro analysis to further investigate mechanisms that influence IL-6 and related biomarkers.

WP5: Complete data analysis and production of the final thesis

The scholarship offers all eligible participants (student):

  • KESS PhD Scholarship holders do not pay fees;
  • A monthly stipend in line with UKRI rates: 3 years of funding at £14,628 (2019/20) per year for PhD, subject to yearly increments
  • An additional budget to support your research of £3,000 for travel, conference attendance, minor equipment, consumables and training
  • An opportunity to access a suite of higher level skills training & attendance at a residential KESS Grad School
  • A minimum of 30 days a year working with the company partner on their allocated project
  • Students must complete & submit their thesis within 3.5 years for PhD
  • All participants must complete the KESS Postgraduate Skills Development Award

To be eligible for the scholarship, applicants should have UK or EU Citizenship, and be resident in the competitive area of Wales on appointment (or be studying in or working in the competitive area immediately prior to starting the project) and should have the right to work in the region on qualification. Residence confirmed by providing documents such as driver’s licence, tenancy agreement or recent statement from bank or building society.

The map for the eligible East area can be​ found here​.  NB: The map also illustrates other assisted areas in the UK, however only the East Wales (areas of Wales which are not shaded) is eligible in this project.

For further information please visit here ( where you will also find the application form (Participant Application Form – go to ‘KESS II Scholarship Vacancies’).

 To apply, please submit completed application form to Dr Michael Hughes to:

Interviews for this post will take place in the week beginning the 2nd September 2019, with a proposed commencement date of 30th Sept 2019.

Funding Notes:

Supported by Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships 2 (KESS2) which is an All Wales higher level skills initiative led by Bangor University on behalf of the HE sector in Wales. It is part funded by the Welsh Government’s European Social Fund (ESF) Competitive programme for East Wales.