WORKING TO SCHEDULE
Future’s DS2 starts playing. The sound of soda hitting ice and a cup filling with fizz fills the gym as Bulldogs backline star Jason Johannisen gets to work. Thought It Was A Drought? The Dogs just claimed their first premiership in 62 long years.
After taking out the AFL premiership and claiming the Norm Smith medal for his best on ground performance, Johannisen would be excused for taking time off. Instead he’s here, lifting, running, conditioning. Preparing for another campaign.
One of the quickest to cover ground in the competition, Johanissen is squatting over a loaded barbell for another set of deadlifts. “Breaking the lines off half back is what my teammates count on.” He says. “It's important to prepare my body to do that. I train with elite sprinters in the off season to understand better technique and more efficient running practices.”
Another set in the books, Johanissen checks his recovering heart rate on his Fitbit Charge 2, before glancing at the squat rack. Once again it’s on.
Jason is up, setting goals and preparing for a day of high-intensity training at the Western Bulldogs’ facility. After a meeting with the playing group at 9AM, the day begins.
Jason is easing in to the day, on the field for 90 minutes of footy drills before working up to 30 minutes of volume running. In an average game for the Bulldogs, Jason works through 13 kilometres of running across four quarters – burning through over 500 metres of that at a speed over 25km/h.
Jason is back in the sheds for stretching and ice baths, recovering from a morning of cardio and skills training.
After recovery, Jason has an hour to refuel. Nutrition is just as important as training, and as an owner of Chapel St smoothie bar Smooth E, Jason has an ace in the hole. “It's important for me to have an interest outside of football and Smooth E is something I’ve focused on over the last year. [The bar] has given me a mental break from football, but also helped me understand more about nutrition and business, especially as an elite athlete.”
Jason is back at the club, with an hour of weights training ahead of him. After missing nine games with a hamstring injury in the 2016 season, the speedster has a very specific set of exercises to focus on. “Due to my severe injury to my hamstring I have focused on strengthening and activating my glutes and hamstrings to be less injury prone in the future.” He says. “I have the natural ability to run fast, it's my job to be able to harness that and develop my body to be consistent and reliable.”
Jason recovers with massage therapy at the club, before an hour of injury prevention exercises. His day at the club finishes at 5.
After a balanced dinner, Jason relaxes at home; getting the right about of rest and recovery is critical for maximising his performance. Jason tracks his sleep through his Fitbit – his dashboard shows him how many hours and the quality of his sleep.
Daily 9-5 training finds Jason burning through calories and clocking up kilometres at a rate few of us will ever know. After completing his fifth season at the top level, Jason reflects on the difficult adjustment he had to make from inexperienced East Fremantle recruit to AFL star.
“As an 18 year old straight out of high school, training 2-3 days a week, coming into the AFL system I struggled with the work load; training 5-6 days a week. It took two pre-seasons for my body to meet the demands of the training. The professionalism and expectation never ceases to challenge me. Everyone is hunting for that edge, and I guess as players we are the test dummies for the future.”
As difficult as it can get, the gruelling pre-season is all in the name of preparing for another run at the flag. After finding themselves media darlings and everyone’s second-favourite team in September 2016, the Bulldogs 2017 story will traverse an entirely different narrative. The pack-hunting Dogs will now find themselves the hunted. After his Grand Final performance, Johannisen in particular will find himself in opposition crosshairs. Proper preparation prevents poor performance though, and the change in circumstances doesn’t phase Jason.
“Looking into 2017 I don't really worry about the possibility of receiving more attention,” he says. “I still believe I have a lot of improvement in my game, I’m excited to get back and work with my teammates and coaches to get better. We have no desire to be one hit wonders.”