Psychophysiology is a branch of psychology that studies the interaction of physiological and psychological processes.

Perceived exertion and lactate threshold

Grabouw Xterra 2010

You may have guess that I am more than a little obsessed with the perception of fatigue. Having completed the Cape Argus Cycle Tour this weekend and having had a taste of being in the saddle for 5 hours, and then looking ahead to the Wines2Whales 3 day mountain bike stage race in November, you can imagine that the topic is very relevant for me, and hopefully for some of you other crazy folk out there.

Picture this, you’ve been riding for three hours and you’re tired, you can feel the burn creeping into your legs, a sure sign that your body is producing more lactate than it can metabolise. You know that if you carry on at this pace you’re not going to make it. And you begin to wonder, how on earth to the professionals do it? Is their perception of fatigue the same as yours or are they immune to feeling the burn. Read More »Perceived exertion and lactate threshold

Real or perceived fatigue during the Cape Argus Cycle Tour


I have talked about the perception of fatigue. In my previous post I mentioned that Professor Tim Noakes states that the brain, when it senses that the athlete is overstretching him- or herself, sets off a series of sensations that the body translates as symptoms of fatigue. The brain does so to protect itself, the heart and the rest of the body. “Its main function is to make sure you don’t get into trouble in whatever exercise you’re doing”.

I just completed my very first Cape Argus Cycle Tour, with a wind resisted time of 5 hours and 17 minutes. For the most part I felt stronger than I had expected, but there were times when all I could think of was “when will this end”. I have to wonder at what point my brain was correct when it told my legs, “hey slow down”. It is incredibly difficult to know how far to push yourself. Athletes who have down years of endurance training seem to develop an accurate sense of how far they can go. For those unschooled in endurance sports it is a process of trial and error.Read More »Real or perceived fatigue during the Cape Argus Cycle Tour

Mind Over Matter – Prior experience and the perception of fatigue

Continuing on the topic of mind over matter, and specifically in relation to exercise, I am reminded of some work done by Professor Tim Noakes several years ago. Professor Noakes challenged a long established belief that fatigue originates in the muscles (when the muscles run out of oxygen, glycogen or ATP), or when there is too much lactic acid. This model was called the “Limitations Model”. Rather, Noakes and his colleagues proposed that fatigue originates in the brain (I can now hear all coaches saying “you’re not tired, it’s in your head). According to Noakes, “fatigue is a complex emotion affected by factors such as motivation and drive, other emotions such as anger and fear, and memory of prior activity” (read more here).Read More »Mind Over Matter – Prior experience and the perception of fatigue

Mind over Matter – How our mood influences our immune system

Over the Christmas holidays I’ve  been doing a fair amount of training in preparation for the race I’ve entered. Despite getting up before dawn during my holidays, I found I was highly motivated, full of energy and putting in some personal bests on various rides and runs. That stopped on Monday, my first day back in the office.Read More »Mind over Matter – How our mood influences our immune system