Pre season training – a day in the life……

7 weeks in to pre season training, and we’re starting to feel the physical strain. Pre season (June-August) is the time when fitness and strength training are pushed to the extreme in preparation for the playing season ahead. I say ‘we’re’ starting to feel the strain as having a husband in pre season training is like adding another child to the equation. His exhaustion at the end of the day renders him pretty much helpless!

This morning, Monday 22nd July, sees that start of ‘Over-load Week’, when the boys are pushed even more physically, with the reward of a week off from Sunday. As I sit here typing at 6am, Dec’s alarm is jolting him out of his comatose state. With the first training session at 7.15am, he needs to be up with enough time to fit in the first meal to allow it to digest. Here’s the schedule for today:

7.15am: 45 minutes weights (‘hypertrophy’ short, sharp and intense lifting, to increase muscle mass)

8am: breakfast

8.30am: stretching session

10am: 1 hour rugby training

11.30am: 1/2 hour conditioning (fitness/running)

12pm: lunch

2.30pm: Weights (legs)

4pm: afternoon meal

4.30pm: physio/massage

6ish +: return home

So it’s a long day of weights, rugby and fitness training. The forecast for today is 32 degrees C………… on top of food and snacks, fluid, fluid, fluid is as important to maintain hydration.

After the long day at the Sunbury training ground, Dec will return to (ahem) our tranquil home. Perhaps I will rephrase that. Dec will return home to the tears and tantrums lively and spirited debates between our two girls (6 and 3), and our 1 year old toddler, who is going through a clingy/moaning phase. All the poor man wants to do is just sit down and zone out (reminds me of that quote from Winnie the Pooh: “Sometimes I sits and thinks, sometimes I just sits).

With 3 kids entertain, shopping, cooking, cleaning etc. etc. an extra body sitting near comatose on the sofa can be, to be polite, frustrating. However, I have to remind myself that recovery and rest are a fundamental phase of training, as important as the physical sessions throughout the day.

The huge calorie intake needed to meet the requirements of the extra physical activity AND to promote weight gain, can be tricky to achieve. Even with a personal dietitian who also happens to be his wife at his disposal.

I always say that an athlete can meet their nutritional needs using real food, with supplements eg. protein/recovery drinks/bars, used to support the diet if necessary. Real food gives a multitude of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals, fibre, fatty acids, as well as probably many other substances that science not discovered yet. A manufactured product simply cannot replace a meal for nutrition.

Dec, being Dec, has taken this on board, wanting most of his nutrition to come from food, with recovery/energy drinks used a few times during training. In theory, this is music to the ears of a dietitian. However, in practise this means 5 meals per day, which is tedious (shopping, cooking, cleaning up), not to mention expensive.

Rob, the Strength & Conditioning coach at London Irish, has the boys on strict diets to meet their various nutrition and training needs. Dec’s aim is to increase weight from 100kg to approximately 105kg, while maintaining body fat at 10%. He’s on target, having upped the weight to 102.5kg (that half kilo is VERY important!)

Meals yesterday: porridge; bagel & scrambled eggs; salt beef ciabatta; pasta with pesto, chicken, pepper & spring onion; salmon, rice, happy carrot salad; wrap with chicken & coleslaw.

happy carrots

happy carrots

Snacks/training: apples, yoghurts, almonds, recovery drinks, energy drinks.


almonds, yoghurt, apple


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