Around the world in 80 days

Mark Beaumont is a world record-breaker, the first man to cycle round the world in just 79 days. Our Associate Lecturer Dr. Lesley Ingram spent the last year as Mark's coach, testing his fitness and issuing weekly training plans to get him in the shape of his life. Here we'll teach you how Lesley trained a record-breaker.

The science behind the challenge: how do you cycle around the world in 80 days?

World-record breaker Mark Beaumont on how he prepared for the challenge 

1. The challenge

2. Heat Acclimation Training

Two weeks before Mark left for the challenge he spent 3 training sessions with Lesley in our environmental chamber at Sighthill campus. Used by students and academics alike, the chamber can alter heat, humidity and even replicate the altitude of Everest Base Camp! Let's just say filming in there definitely wasn't a breeze, so we can't imagine what it was like for Mark completing interval session for an hour!

"The environmental chamber is hot! It's quite an experience. What we're doing is tricking my body into adapting to that level of heat before I leave, because as soon as I get out into Europe, Russia and Mongolia it's going to be seriously hot."

Mark Beaumont

3. VO2 max testing with Mark

"A VO2 max test helps us to see how efficient a person is when they're exercising. Essentially for Mark what we're trying to do is train him so that he can spend longer on the bike with as little fatigue as possible."

Dr Lesley Ingram

4. What's the impact of only sleeping 5 hours a night for 80 days?

Some nights Mark only got 3 hours sleep on the challenge. On average, he got about 5 hours. When we asked him before he left how he was going to hold up with so little sleep, Mark told us that he becomes progressively less social the more tired he gets - which is understandable! But what are the risks to Mark's safety of cycling in traffic for 16 hours a day when he's so sleep deprived?

"With Mark only sleeping for 5 hours a night, over the 80 day period I will essentially have had 30 days more sleep than him!"

Dr. Lesley Ingram

5. How will 80 days of cycling around the world affect Mark's immune system?

Can you really cycle for 16 hours a day for 80 days? And what impact will this have on the ability for your body to function? To do basic things such as repair it's own fibres or protect itself from germs and bacteria. Lesley highlights the risks Mark is taking to his health by pushing his body to the very limits of human endurance. 

"The longer Mark continues on the challenge, the more his immune system is compromised. He's striving to do something that no-one else has ever done before, and we really don't know where the limits for Mark's health are."

Dr Lesley Ingram

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.

Check out our sport and exercise science labs where Mark trained

Sport & Exercise Sciences at Edinburgh Napier