Although I have not quite completed it yet, I would say undertaking a PhD alongside a Research Assistant position. I have enjoyed the process but it has been challenging and difficult at times with many problems to solve. So although it hasn’t been physically demanding, it has been mentally demanding at times. Also I worked on one project which involved 6 months of testing in hot conditions in a climatic chamber, which was a pretty demanding project to work on. Although I did become acclimated to the heat by the end of the project, which was good!
Probably leading a large scale study where we worked with just over 2000 runners. We monitored their training volumes, completed laboratory tests on the treadmill and the monitored them all during their respective marathons. This was very much about logistics. You have to be very organised when running this type of project.
I think doing my PhD was very challenging – it was very tiring towards the end of the 4.5 years as the days were very long trying to get things finished off. It was difficult and demanding because it was a lot of learning for a long time, and sometimes I had no idea what I was doing! It was worth it in the end though as a PhD is completely new science, no one else in the world will have done the same thing as you so it’s completely unique, and the end result is you’ve written a big science book, which is pretty cool.
I also learnt computer programming to speed up getting my results: that was frustrating starting off as it was like learning a whole new language. Annoyingly, the computer programme pings at you every time you make a mistake and highlights the mistakes in red. I’m still learning now, but the learning is definitely easier now!
Physically, I ran my first half marathon in 2013 all along beaches and forest trails – it was a gorgeous sunny Autumn day but the ground was very tiring. Really enjoyed it though and a great feeling to finish it 🙂