Spring Training and AIS testing Camp

It may seem rather strange at first to find that as a winter
athlete I find spring a very welcoming season. This is easily explained when I
look back at just how many consecutive summers I have completely missed. As
soon as a bit of sun and warmth begins to show itself, it feels incredible to
just absorb as much as possible whilst it’s around. Many people find it
horrible to exercise in middle of the day, however I was finding myself more
and more often studying first, then training in the later morning just to get
the warmer air. I am being completely honest when I say that it is a very
strong motivator for me to train hard. Especially when you are mixing training
with study, it’s almost as though you cannot wait to get out training again,
and as a result, spring training has been very consistent and I feel like my
overall volume and strength areas have been covered better than any previous
year.

Starting the harder interval sets again is always a slightly
tough transition. It is hard to not get too caught up in the way you feel in
the first few interval sets because it is almost certain that it won’t be a
great feeling, and this doesn’t really reflect where you are in terms of
fitness and form. This year, this was made all the more clearer at the AIS
testing camp which commenced on the first week of October. I had been
maintaining the weekly Level Three (lower intensity) intervals and had only
completed one set of the higher end Level Four intervals the week before this
testing camp. So with quite a distinct lack of intensity based training in my
program (which is normal as it is still 2 months away from the European racing
season) I was definitely not expecting great results. I actually felt a bit
nervous as the last time I completed the test which was the year before, however
right before the start of the Australian Winter, I had achieved quite good
results by completing a full 35min of the protocol (equalling the Australian
Record) and achieving a V02 Max of just below 80ml/kg/min. Starting off this
year, I honestly felt rather lethargic and was actually began to worry I wouldn’t
even make it into the 30min range. This type of thinking is always something
that you have to try and push away in races and this is what I realised I had
to do in this particular instant as well. I’m not sure if it really was the
change in mental approach or if it was that I began to feel stronger as I began
to work harder, but either way things definitely got better. In the end I
became the first Australian to finish the 36min stage and in doing so set a new
AIS record for the longest time and highest V02 max recorded on the Cross
Country protocol. I managed to increase my V02 max from just shy of 80 to just
below 84 (83.9ml/kg/min) in just over a year. This is usually easily achievable
with weight loss, however my weight stayed the same (even slightly heavier)
however I still gained around 4ml/kg/min which shows a clear development of
aerobic capacity, which is certainly a confidence booster heading into a
European Winter. A report was actually written on my success and this can be
viewed on the AIS website at; https://secure.ausport.gov.au/ais/innovation/news/story_456292_watson_sets_new_records_during_ais_testing

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