The journey to coaching elite athletes

Dr. Lesley Ingram fills us in on how she went from being on the first ever cohort of BSc Sport & Exercise Science students at Edinburgh Napier to gaining her PhD and coaching elite athletes. 

I’ve been at Edinburgh Napier my whole career, from undergraduate level right through to present day. I was in the first ever year of the BSc Sport and Exercise programme back in 2000, and have been here ever since.

When I graduated from my BSc in 2004 I came back the following year and did some demonstrating for the department. At that point a job as a laboratory technician in the sport and exercise science labs came up, so I applied and got that role. In 2007 that job changed into a research technician, and that’s when my focus really switched to research.

At that point, I started working closely with Professor Geraint Florida-James and together we launched the sports science consultancy business at the university. We felt that as applied sports scientists with a research background, combined with the facilities we had at Sighthill campus such as the environmental chamber and the most up-to-date equipment, we could really help athletes to develop and reach their potential.

Since then I’ve consulted on both individual and team sports. In terms of endurance events I’ve worked with long distance runner Paul Giblin, and the Scottish Cross Country and Scottish Downhill cycling squads. I’ve worked on shorter events too with both 1500m and 800m runners, and did assessments on Jake Wightman who came 11th in the 1500m World Championships in London in 2017, so I’ve got to work on a real mix of sports.

In 2010 I started my PhD in Exercise Immunology and Sleep, and completed that part-time over the next 6 years alongside working as a consultant and research technician. Becoming a researcher whilst working with athletes meant I was reading and training people based on the most recent data available.

I finished my PhD last year in ‘sleep disruption, immune cell redeployment and endocrine response following an acute bout of exercise’ and have just started a new role as an Associate Lecturer alongside my consulting work. As an avid mountain-biker I also work with the team at the Mountain Bike Centre of Scotland in Glentress.

Lesley teaches on the MSc Sport Performance Enhancement in ‘Physiological Factors Affecting Sporting Performance’ and the BSc Sport Science module ‘Sport & Health Nutrition’.


Want to learn the skills to work with record-breaking athletes?

Lesley is an Associate Lecturer and teaches on our MSc Sport Performance Enhancement. She has worked with elite athletes from a variety of sports including running, cycling and rugby and can teach you the key skills and knowledge to successfully build a career in an elite applied sports environment.