Tim Noakes

Tim Noakes bigraphy, stories - Sports researcher

Tim Noakes : biography

1949 –

Timothy David Noakes (born 1949) is a South African professor of exercise and sports science at the University of Cape Town. He has run more than 70 marathons and ultramarathons, and is the author of the running book Lore of Running.Noakes, Tim. 2003. The Lore of Running. (4th edition) Oxford University Press ISBN 0-87322-959-2


Noakes is also well known for challenging common and old paradigms in the discipline of exercise physiology. In 1996 he was honored by the American College of Sports Medicine when he was asked to present the J.B. Wolfe Memorial Lecture, the college’s keynote address at its annual meeting. In his presentation Ex Africa semper aliquid novi. (Out of Africa always something new) Noakes challenged the dogma of the VO2max plateau theory. This work lead eventually to the construction of a complex central governor model of exercise in which the brain is the primary organ that dictates how fast, how long, and how hard humans can exercise. Much of Noakes’ work over the past 10 years has provided further support for this model. In 2002 he was awarded a Doctorate in Science (DSc), the highest degree the University of Cape Town can award.


Noakes was born in Harare, Zimbabwe in 1949 and moved to South Africa at the age of five.http://www.health24.com/fitness/Specific_Sports/16-2175-2181-2277,50688.asp As a young boy his main sporting interest was cricket. Noakes attended Monterey Preparatory School in Constantia, Cape Town, then Diocesan College. He has earned an MBChB (1974), MD (1981), and DSc (Med) (2002).

As researcher, educator, and author

In 1980 Noakes was tasked to start a sports science course at the University of Cape Town. Noakes went on to head the Medical Research Council-funded Bioenergetics of Exercise Research Unit, which was later changed to the MRC/UCT Research Unit for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine.

In the early 1990s Noakes co-founded the Sports Science Institute of South Africa, with former South African rugby player Morne du Plessis. His unit’s physiological research has produced over 370 scientific articles since 1996.

He published a scientific paper on the condition now known as Exercise Associated Hyponatremia (EAH). He first recognized this condition in a female runner during the 1984 Comrades Marathon, and published his findings in 1985 in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. Noakes hosted the 1st International Exercise-Associated Hyponatremia Consensus Development Conference in Cape Town in May 2005.

Noakes is also known for renewing and elaborating the idea first proposed by the 1922 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine winner Archibald Hill that a central governor regulates exercise to protect body homeostasis.

In 2005 he undertook a series of pioneering experiments in the Arctic and Antarctic on South African (British-born) swimmer Lewis Gordon Pugh to understand the full range of human capability in extreme cold. He discovered that Pugh had the ability to raise his core body temperature before entering the water in anticipation of the cold and coined the phrase ‘anticipatory thermo-genesis’ to describe it. In 2007 he was the expedition doctor for Pugh’s one kilometre swim at the Geographic North Pole.

Noakes has written two books. "Lore of Running" is a resource on almost every topic for understanding, enjoying, and improving performance in the sport. "Waterlogged" takes readers inside the science of athlete hydration.