Saturday, 28 June 2014

Week 1

I already posted a blog detailing the first two days of the internship/first two days of pre-season so I will jump ahead and fill in the remainder of the week.


Most of the days start pretty much the same way with a Therapy session. In these the players work with coaches and physio's to help improve any weaknesses they may have, or to help eradicate any tight/sore spots. They use a mix of resistance bands, and different SMR tools like lacrosse balls and foam rollers. The coaches sometimes use trigger point therapy also on particular players to work on areas that need a bit more work.
An indoor rugby skills sessions followed this which involved a lot of simple movement and handling drills using footballs and rugby balls.
Breakfast followed this session and there was a brilliant selection of food. I had two beef steaks, an omelette and some chicken salad. Hardly a bad way to start the day.
Things then started to get a little hectic as the players had 3 sessions back to back. First up was Speed out on the sprint track. Only short distance as they're working mostly on acceleration rather than top velocity or speed maintenance at the moment.
This was followed by weights which again was full body. A mixture of movement to target general weak areas and positive movement patters.
Finally there was some off-feet conditioning to finish off. This consisted of a cross-trainer session put together by the S&C team. It was interval based and definitely worked the players hard.
The day was finished off by another meal and individual recovery methods.


Prior to Therapy, there was an S&C Presentation to start off the day today. This was mostly covering the wellness and RPE based things that the players are being asked to carry out to help monitor total work output.
Therapy followed this. I won't keep on about therapy - it's pretty much the same every time apart from players picking up tighter areas as a result of training the day before.
Food followed this.
Next up was a running session - this was similar to Tuesday's session in that it was Tempo based but there was a slight increase in total distances covered for the majority of players.
During the running session - I got the chance to do a one-on-one off feet conditioning session with Harlequins legend, and England and British & Irish Lions winger, Ugo Monye. This was pretty awesome to be fair. I know it's just part of the job, but it was my first real "starstruck" kind of moment in that I was personally working with such a big name. I love this internship!!!! So Ugo did an off-feet conditioning session which was interval based. It looked like hard work because he looked as if he'd been in the shower by the time he finished. Fair to say these guys put the work in.
After running they had skills again, today outside. Again just things to gradually increase the amount of rugby they do.
Yoga followed this. Today group 1 did Power Yoga, and group 2 did Hot Yoga. I definitely want to give Hot Yoga a go next week as the boys seem to really enjoy it. It's similar to Bikram but in 40 degree heat. Looks intense but I want to give it a go.
More food to finish off the day and the off to bed.

FRIDAY 27/06

Therapy - enough said.
Indoor skills. The coaches have been mixing these sessions up to keep the players' minds fresh. Today they basically played big games of basketball which was cool. They players enjoy it as just doing rugby all the time get tedious for them so it keeps them interested whilst working on handling and co-ordination skills.
Speed followed up at 10:00. Today this was done outside on the pitch so times were slightly slower but some of the guys still hit some impressive times. Particularly Ollie Lindsay-Hague and Charlie Walker. Very quick. Jack Clifford also hit a good time for a back row.
Weights was up next. Again this was a total body session and was high tempo with low rest so the guys got a good sweat on.
To finish off the day today the players had a conditioning challenge.
Hopefully you read my blog "First Day - 20.06.2014" where I explained about the prowler session I took part in with the S&C Team - well the players did this today. But as some people have picked up niggles the groups were down on numbers so they required members of staff to join in. I got roped into doing it by Gaz (who was also doing it along with Batch, Slim and Roberts - one of the physio's). I was not particularly happy but Henry can't do it because he has a bad shoulder, and Richie has buggered off to Glastonbury (in his first week at the internship he did two days - he's got a lot of making up to do!).
Now I have had a lot of respect for professional sportsmen in the past, but my God I am now really able to comprehend how physically fit these players really are.
It was an 80kg sled (60 for those under 90kg bodyweight) and again it was 8 lengths per player in 4 man teams. There was the option to use a "joker card" for someone to replace someone for one rep (for instance of someone was dying then someone fresher could do a rep for them).
I was in a team with Jack Clifford (back row, captained England U20s to World Cup Victory last year), Paul Doran-Jones (prop, multiple caps for England) and Stan South (second row, Academy boy).
I genuinely almost died. I finished my 7th rep and my legs wobbled under me and I just collapsed. It was embarrassing and I feel a bit shit that I died in front of the squad. Stan South pulled the Hero card and used a joker to take my final rep and smashed it! The team finished with the best time of the day at 9 minutes 11 seconds.
It took me a long old time to recover from that. I felt like dog shit for a long time.
So like I said, I now understand just how incredibly well conditioned these guys are. They found something easy that literally almost killed me. Time for me to practice what I preach. This prowler is going to become my friend and enemy over the next few months as I'm going to use it to do my conditioning after weights.

So there you go, week 1 complete.
Next week we get a few more players back (those involved with England Saxons at the end of the season) and the week looks pretty similar to what was carried out this week.
I will most likely cut down the blogs to weekly as otherwise it will be a whole load of repetition.

Hope you enjoy reading the blogs, I just want to show a bit of insight into how things run as part of an S&C Team.

Til next time.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

First two days

First two days catch up

So pre-season is intense! My feet are wrecked, and I'm totally knackered, but it's 100% worth it so far.

Monday we started off the day with an S&C team meeting, and a meeting with the physio team. This consisted of just getting our bearings with the protocols to follow, which players are in each group, and how many of the guys are still recovering from existing injuries etc.
Another meeting followed but this was with the squad and coaching staff. Those players who were already back to begin training watched a slideshow explain the layout of pre-season, and told about a few new things that are being put into place for this pre-season/season.
After this, we had to unload a huge delivery of supplements. The new supplier is Maximuscle/MaxiRaw, and we had 3 pallets worth of Whey, Casein, Creatine, Beta-alanine and tons of protein bars and flapjacks too.

Next up - Shake duty! At the moment the 3 interns are in charge of making the post-workout smoothies, next week it will be taken off our hands as there will be a "nutrition volunteer" to do that side of things. And thank God! The smoothies are an absolute ball-ache. If it were only shakes, it would be fine. Water/milk, couple of scoops of this and that, then shake. But with the smoothies its water/milk, scoops of supps, smoothie packs and other stuff. It just takes time because we have to blend them up in batches of only 2-4 players at a time. Sucks.
The shakes were needed for post-weights. We got to sit in on these weights sessions which was good as the players are on a fairly generic program at the moment whilst the coaches figure out any existing issues with imbalances etc. It was a total body workout consisting of a lot of super-sets with very little rest. A couple of lads vomited after this session - which goes to show that it was intense for weights.
After each group did weights they also had a conditioning challenge using the rowing machines and Watt bikes. This was good to gauge where the players are at and to see how they push themselves at everything they do.

This was the final session of the day, but as a group we all went up and did our individual workouts to finish off the day. After training for so long at the Hill Performance Center in Worcester, and mostly by myself, it's weird to be back in a very commercial gym. I had to wait for platform to squat!!! WHAT?!?!


Another busy day. We started off a little later with a meeting at 830, so Richie and I decided to get an early morning workout in (details in training blog to come later).
After our meeting, the first session of the day was Therapy. In this the boys do a lot of mobility/flexibility work focused around any weakness or work-ons found in the screening on day 1. It includes a lot of rolling with foam rollers and lacrosse balls, and use of bands for distraction.
The next session was running. This counted as a conditioning sessions for the players and consisted mostly of tempo runs based around their speed maxes and performance needs.
Rugby training followed the running session, it's been placed this way to put the players in a higher level of fatigue when practicing skills. A lot of teams won't do any kind of rugby training this early in pre-season but Quins like to as handling and fast play are two of the biggest facets to their performance.

The next part of the day was Yoga. Group one did "Hot Yoga" - this is done by using a "HotPod" which raises the temperature to 40degrees C, and the players then practice yoga within this environment helping to ease any tension on the muscles and also raise a high temperature meaning they sweat a lot.
Group two did "Power Yoga" - this is based more around calisthenic bodyweight movements and seems like a lot more of a standard yoga session.

So that is basically a quick summary of the first two days of their training, and my internship so far. It has been incredibly hectic, and very eye-opening, but I am definitely loving every minute of it. The lads seem to be opening up to us quite well which is good, but there are still plenty more to come back.

Til next time

Sunday, 22 June 2014

First Day - 20.06.2014

Friday 20th June 2014.
My first day as an intern at Harlequins.

First things first, apparently we're not allowed to call it an "Internship" as I don't receive any money for doing it, but it's better than calling it "Volunteering" and we get plenty of other perks that work out just as good so I'm going to carry on calling it an Internship anyway.

So today we had a bit of orientation day. Two other interns and myself met the rest of the S&C Coaching team in Starbucks and did the standard meet and greet - Shake hands, state your name, hear their name, move on to the next.
John - Head of Physical Performance - then continued by saying some of the things that we would be doing that day, and also some of the things that we should expect to be doing over the next year. Some of it is going to be brilliant, some of it I imagine will become a bit tedious but it's one of those things.

Henry, Richie and I (the three interns) were then set our first task of clearing all the S&C related equipment from the pitch side container and loading it into the van. For once I was dressed appropriately in shorts, t-shirt and trainers whereas the others were in jeans.
After this, we had the important task of laminating a load of paperwork for the players' individual gym folders. It gave us a brief look into the first week or so of gym programming for those players coming back on the 23rd.
We then went across and got some coffee as a group, had a bit of a chat, and then came back to have a team meeting in the board room. This meeting again set about explaining to us what our day-to-day is going to involve, and how best to go about getting things done as a group.
After this, we unloaded the van into a container up the top closer to the gym, and also closer to the outdoor sprint track. Some of the equipment was moved up to the gym in Surrey Sports Park (SSP from now on) including three brand new Texas Power Bars. Looking forward to getting some training in on them.

The next thing we did was pretty damn gruesome. We all (minus Bish and Henry) took part in a Prowler conditioning challenge. With 80kg on the prowler, push it approximately 25-30 meters and hand off to the next in your team. We did it in teams of 4. Each person had to do 8 runs.
It was horrible. The first few it wasn't so bad, then by number 5 the Lactic buildup was absolutely ridiculous! BUT I finished it so I'm happy with that. Didn't want to bail out on something on my first day.

We finished off the day in a pretty good way - we got given all our Stash. There is tons of it! It's literally like Christmas come early, and we're still waiting for some more! Including boots & trainers - all free of charge. Definitely a perk of the job. We also got given some smoothie packs which are pretty decent.

Finally - we all went to Nando's in Guildford as a group and fed on some chicken. Pretty sure each of us had a whole chicken each. They did not die in vain. We were hungry it has to be said.

So now I'm looking forward to tomorrow morning when we start the pre-season properly and I can't wait to get this thing going.