On Monday our A Level Physical Education students visited Bath University Sports Science Laboratories. Under the guidance of Sports Scientist Jonathan Robinson we were in excellent hands of someone who works regularly with Olympic athletes and English Institute of Sport athletes to analyse their performance.
Diana Kawonga and Iso Staines gamely stepped up to complete two slightly different VO2 max tests which are an unforgiving method of testing maximal oxygen consumption which in essence, is running until you cannot run anymore with a face mask on and whilst having blood taken to test your anaerobic threshold through measuring levels of lactate! So not entirely a pleasant experience but certainly one that gives an insight into the life of a high-performance athlete and the extent to which data impacts upon modern-day training methods.
It was over to Willa Gravell to then step up to complete the Wingate Test, a test of anaerobic power on a cycle ergometer. In Willa’s words, the 30-second test left her feeling like she had just played a full hockey match. The maximum effort test despite being shorter was no more forgiving and with encouragement from her peers, in particular, Alex Simmons (!) it was clear to us all that Willa had indeed put a maximum effort into the test!
Gaining a practical insight into the tests was one aspect of the visit but the benefits of seeing into the lives of Sports Scientists and how labs are run was one that the girls found incredibly interesting. The validity and reliability of data is an ever-increasing priority in our lives but is one that for an athlete, is crucial and can make the difference on the world stage. We found it fascinating to hear about the level to which data is broken down and by the people involved in the progress, managers, selectors, nutritionists, strength and conditioning coaches to name just a few. Is the athlete now just a commodity?
It was a pleasure to take the trip and even more so to receive the comment from Jonathan Robinson that our girls were very engaged and knowledgeable!