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Spring Has Sprung

Its been a while since my last confession / blog. It has been several weeks since my last blog.

I have had lustful thoughts about food ( mainly chocolate and Chips)

My swimming sessions have not been as consistent as they should ( very heavy Duvet)

Weekend seem to get clogged up with 'Real World' things and 'family, so long rides not really happening every week.

But still the data is telling me im fitter than last year ! Its knowing this information that is really helping me not get bogged down in feeling sorry for my self and pushing me to get out as much as i can.

So what data a i looking at ; well simple time trials ie 5km, 400m & 200m swim test and looking at my power / hr on the bike. This along with training peaks Critical Training Load (CTL). Its not just informing training , its keeping you going and keeping us motivated.

Im also lucky enough to get some free lab time at the university, so a sub maximal run test ( Lactate threshold) and max test ( VO2 max, your maximal ability to utilise O2 and where this max occurs). This has helped inform all my winter training and i have no doubt contributed to my current fitness level.

If you are interested in doing so before the season gets in full swing , have a look at taking part in a study at a local Uni. Please read on if you interested in taking part in a study at the University of Kent.

Reactivation of Epstein-Barr Virus Following Prolonged Cycling

You are invited to take part in a research project with the University of Kent’s School of Sport and Exercise Sciences that is investigating the effect of prolonged cycling on the immune system. Before you decide if you would like to participate in this study, please read the following information. It is important that you understand what you will be required to do and that participation is voluntary.

If there is anything that is not clear or you require more information to make your decision please contact a member of the research team. Thank you for taking the time to read through this.

Purpose of the Research

We are interested in the effects of exercise on the immune system. There is a test that we can perform on saliva that gives us a good reflection of how your immune system is functioning in vivo (in the body in real time). This measure is the level of Epstein-Barr virus in your saliva.

Epstein-Barr virus is carried by almost all adults (approximately 80-90% of the adult population). After the initial infection, the virus remains in the body and is controlled by specific cells in the immune system. So if your immune system is functioning well (in vivo) there should be low amounts of this virus in your saliva, whereas when your immune system is compromised and functioning less well (in vivo) the levels in your salvia may increase (this may also serve as an indicator of when you would be more susceptible to picking up coughs and colds etc). To better understand how exercise influences all of these immune markers we wish to examine a number of markers in saliva and blood (viral DNA and immune cells) in the hours after prolonged cycling.

Who can participate in this study?

Well trained male cyclists and triathletes aged 18-45 years old, with no current upper respiratory illness or infection are welcome to participate. Participation will depend on the results of a health questionnaire prior to testing. If you have any queries about these criteria then please contact the researcher, contact details are located at the end of this information sheet.

What will you be expected to do?

If you agree to take part you will be required to complete a health questionnaire to ensure you are suitable for participation, and to sign a consent form.

This study requires you to make 4 separate visits to the laboratory:

VO2max testing: During the first visit you will perform sub-maximal and maximal cycling tests. For the sub-maximal test, cycling power output will begin relatively easy and then increase every four minutes (e.g. increase by 25 watts every 4 minutes) with collection of small capillary blood samples (fingertip or earlobe) to determine blood lactate concentration at the end of each 4 minute stage. A total of 6-7 stages are required to identify blood lactate thresholds, so the test should take approximately 20 minutes. After a short break you will then perform the maximal test to determine your VO2max. This is a relatively short test that will start at 100 watts and increase in intensity by 30 watts every minute (0.5 watts per second) until you reach exhaustion or your cadence significantly drops off.

Main trials: Of the remaining three visits, two will be exercise trials (2.5 hours of cycling at 60-70% of your VO2max) and one will be a control condition (2.5 hours of rest). On the day of each of these three visits you will be required to provide a saliva sample first thing in the morning, upon waking, before eating or brushing your teeth. In the laboratory, you will be asked to provide a further three saliva samples before, immediately after, and one hour after cycling (or 2.5 hours of rest). At these time points we will also collect a small venous blood sample. This involves the use of a small needle to collect a small volume of blood similar to a normal blood test. Finally, you will be required to provide saliva samples at 20 and 44 hours after the trials (the two mornings after the lab trial). These samples must also be provided first thing in the morning, upon waking, before eating or brushing your teeth.

Blood and saliva samples will be analysed for various immune and stress markers. Some measures we be performed immediately whereas for others we will need to store the samples in the in the laboratory freezer. Before doing this we perform a procedure of centrifugation to make sure that we don’t store any of your cells (we will only store the liquid parts that contain, for example, antibodies and hormones etc.). We will not use the sample for any other purpose and they will be disposed of by incineration afterwards.

In order to track your upper respiratory symptoms (URS) over the course of the study you will be asked to complete an illness questionnaire. This is a very simple tick sheet that you complete daily to record all illness symptoms and the severity of those symptoms.

What should you do before the exercise tests?

Before the VO2max test you should eat 1-2 hours before and be adequately hydrated (prepare as you usually would before a training session).

Before the three remaining laboratory trials you should arrive at the laboratory in the morning after an overnight fast, and at least 24 hours of rest (no strenuous exercise). You will be asked to record a food diary for the 24 hours before and after the first trial, and then replicate your food and liquid intake for the remaining two trials. You will also be required to abstain from caffeine and alcohol intake for 24 hours before these three laboratory trials.

Please wear appropriate sports clothing. If you do not feel well on the test day or have recently recovered from a viral infection, please contact Ellie (details at the end) and will we reschedule your test date.

What should you do after the exercise tests?

You should refrain from strenuous exercise for 24 hours after each of the three visits to the laboratory to perform the exercise tests (until you have provided the saliva sample at home the following morning). You may perform light exercise the day after the exercise test, and any exercise that you do must be replicated after each of the two remaining exercise trials. You will be asked to wear a wristwatch physical activity monitor (Fitbit Charge HR) for three days over the trial period (one day before, and two days after) so that we can monitor your physical activity and sleep duration over the trial period.

How long will this study last?

4 weeks.

Are there any potential risks to you?

Due to blood sampling there is a minimal risk of infection at the site where the blood is taken however the likelihood is low because we follow strict health and safety procedures (including sterilising the area before taking a sample).

Performing maximal exhaustive exercise does have a risk of injury, and cardiac emergencies. However, the risks of laboratory testing are similar to those of normal exercise training and competition and will be reduced by completion of a health questionnaire before any exercise testing is carried out.

This study has been approved by the University of Kent School of Sport and Exercise Sciences Research Ethics Committee.

What are the benefits of this study?

As a participant of this study you will receive free exercise testing to determine your blood lactate profiles and VO2max, which can be used to inform training according to blood lactate thresholds and corresponding heart rates (normal price £120). A summary of the overall study findings in addition to your own personal/individual results sent over email, if you wish.

Where will the study take place?

All exercise testing and analysis of blood and saliva samples will be carried out in the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences’ laboratory at Medway Sports Park (Gillingham).


All personal information and results of blood and saliva analysis will be stored securely within the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences’ premises in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998 and the University’s own data protection procedures. No data will be passed on to any third party. There will be no revealing of any participant’s identity as data will be anonymous.

Note: Your participation is voluntary and therefore you can withdraw from the study at any given time. You do not need to provide any reason for your withdrawal and there will be no consequences.

If you are interested in participating in this study, or would like some more information or have any questions send me an email to Alternatively, if you have any concerns or wish to complain about any aspect of the way you have been approached or treated during the course of this study, you may contact the Head of the School (SSES), Professor Louis Passfield (, 01634 888 813) or the SSES Director of Research, Professor Samuele Marcora (, 01634 882 971).

Many Thanks,

Ellie Hynes

01634 888 903

You may also contact the project supervisor;

Glen Davison

University of Kent

School of Sport & Exercise Sciences

01634 888 994

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