Stars and Spokes
Meet Lana, Joe and Dan: The Experts!
Pascal and Dan here (joint effort this week!).
As the saying goes 'behind every great man, there's a great woman'. Or in our case, 'behind every fairly average (but determined) cycling duo, there are three experts'.
This week, we meet our epic Institute of Naval Medicine (INM) expedition support team, comprising of our two sport scientists (Lana and Joe) and nutritionist (also called Dan, not to be confused with cycling Dan). Between them, they have the near impossible tasks of trying to stop us eating cake and making us complete regular Functional Threshold Power (FTP) tests on the stationary bikes in the lab!
Having access to such knowledgeable individuals, all of whom know their subject matter inside out, means we can tailor our 18 month training programme with pinpoint accuracy. Understanding how to push our bodies during the training phase, along with how to fuel them (mostly with cake, obviously...), will make or break the success of our expedition ride itself.
This whole expedition is very much a team effort, none of it would be possible without the effort and expertise of all involved - it's how we like to do things in the Royal Navy, as a team.
And so we meet the experts.....
Lana - Sport Scientist (Applied Physiologist)
Lana joined the Institute of Naval Medicine as an Applied Physiologist in 2019 having completed a BSc in Sport and Exercise Science and an MSc in Sport and Health Science at the University of Exeter. Alongside a multi-specialist physiology team, my current role involves conducting evidence-based trials, supporting clinical assessments and providing scientific advice and guidance across Defence, specifically regarding thermal physiology to reduce the thermal burden of personnel in training and on operational duty.
Dan and Pascal’s cycling expedition across America has presented a wonderful opportunity for myself and my INM colleagues to utilise our individual expertise and work together to provide the best physiology support we can to the duo. The guys will face long days on the bike, travelling across a country with varied terrain, altitude and heat exposure. With the added time pressure to finish the ride, nutritional requirements are also a significant consideration when approaching this challenge, to make sure the team are sufficiently fuelled and recovered each day. I will support Dan and Pascal by providing exercise testing in the laboratory at INM to establish baseline fitness and training progress, provide advice on acclimatisation and how to best manage the heat challenge they will face during stages of their expedition.
I am honoured to support the team in preparation for their exciting physical challenge and wish them all the very best for their training and final expedition.
Joe - Sport Scientist
I joined the MoD as a Civil Servant in 2019: having completed a BSc in Sports and Exercise Science and a MSc in Applied Human Physiology at London Universities. In my day job I work at the Institute of Naval Medicine as an Applied Physiologist supporting research trails within defence and acting as an SME in exercise physiology.
During my university study I have always had a keen interest in environmental physiology, having previously undertaken research on cycling performance (Time Trails) in the heat. As well as this I have studied in depth the effects of altitude, pressure, temperature (both hot and cold) and G-Force on the human body.
As such the opportunity to get involved in Dan and Pascal's expedition to cycle across America, where they will encounter a variety environmental stressors and challenges in addition to the demands of long distance cycling was an opportunity too good to miss. Although the COVID-19 pandemic as thrown additional challenge and uncertainty into the frame I have every confidence in Dan and Pascal will excel in this latest challenge as they have in the other challenges that have been thrown their way during their Royal Navy service to date.
Furthermore, they are doing this for such a great cause an I am honoured to help support in the small way I can with exercise testing, acclimatisation advice and exercise science support.
Dan - Nutritionist (Applied Physiologist)
I joined the Institute of Naval Medicine in autumn 2020, working in the Applied Physiology department as part of a small team including Joe and Lana. Our department is further split into separate sections, where I am part of the Dietetics and Nutrition strand and the Defence Nutrition Advisory Service. My journey to the INM included a Sport and Exercise Science undergraduate degree at the University of Bath, before doing my postgraduate study in Human Nutrition at the University of Surrey. As part of my undergraduate degree, I was fortunate to have a placement year working with the Welsh Rugby Union, specifically with the Ospreys regional team, and the Wales national team during the 2015/16 season. After finishing at Surrey, I moved to a Health Advisor role in with BUPA in central London, before moving to the INM. The INM provides a unique environment with a hugely varied work programme: from delivering educational courses and providing nutritional advice to inform individuals and policy, to facilitating physiological testing and research into future nutritional strategies across Defence.
Being part of the wider team supporting Dan and Pascal is an excellent opportunity for Lana, Joe and myself to apply our expertise to a challenging expedition. Along with assisting with the physiological testing at baseline and periodically throughout the build up to the cycle, I will be providing nutritional advice to Dan and Pascal to support their training and the ride itself. The expedition will be demanding not only due to the length of the ride, but also the varying conditions within it including high altitude and intense heat. A further constraint is that the guys are supporting themselves on a limited budget, so it is essential that they get the most bang (energy and nutritional value) for their buck! Fortunately, I have access to strategies developed for previous endurance events to help, and the approach used for this expedition will be able to inform similar long-distance challenges in the future.
With these guys on the team, what could possibly go wrong!