A couple weeks ago I was suckered into taking part in a research study at SSISA (Sports Science Institute of South Africa). With the promise of a “free” VO2 Max test I agreed. The study was testing the effectiveness of 2 different carbohydrate drinks on performance. It involved riding at 280 Watts for 1h45min and then, after what feels like the shortest 5 minute rest in history, a 40km time trial as hard as you can go with no music or data. Did I mention this was all on a stationary trainer in the lab? Needless to say, I quickly realised that the VO2 Max was anything but free.

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280 Watts may not sound like that much but it’s one of those efforts that feel okay for about 20min and then absolute hell for the remaining 1h25. After completing the first session, the 14 days leading up to the next one could not pass slow enough. Knowing the pain that was in store, even the thought of going back was dreadful. As the ugly day snuck up on me the only thing I was looking forward to was getting it done.

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After surviving the second three hour session in the lab, I was so glad I participated in the research study. In a sport with so many different facets, you really need to look for gains wherever you can. Taking part in the study opened my eyes to a couple things I could improve on whilst racing as well as give me more information about my body. At the end of the day, never was it so true that information is power…

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