Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Untouchable

I’m well and truly knackered. Yesterday evening I went along to what I thought would be my final game of touch rugby of the summer only to find that the only thing happening at the club was the first training session of pre-season. Oh, how I laughed.

The good news (debatably) was that I trained for 90 minutes (although why anyone would want to do that when a game only lasts for 80 minutes is a mystery). I admit that I didn’t quite make it to the end as my ancient lower back began to seize up at that point and I felt it was probably wise to quit whilst I was marginally ahead. However, the combination of softer ground, better boots and a more sensible approach meant that I easily eclipsed the 20 minutes that I managed at the equivalent time last year.

The bad news is that this morning I ache in places I’d long forgotten I had, and what’s more I’m sure I ache on top of those aches. Every single one of my toes hurts for instance - how weird is that?

The session started predictably enough – touch followed by reasonably gentle shuttles, followed by stretching, followed by more strenuous shuttles. Then a lung bursting lap of the entire playing fields (during which I sensibly settled in at the rear of the group) followed by a bit more stretching and then, unbelievably, another lap. Once that was over we appeared to switch the focus to ball work – working in grids. This was more like it, the hard slog over and the opportunity to work hard while having fun, but alas, no. Just as I thought I might begin to enjoy myself out came the tackle bags and we were each required to make a minimum of twenty tackles in one minute (“But I haven’t made one tackle in nearly 14 years!” I wanted to scream) before having to drive an opponent with a tackle pad back about 50 yards in a series of strength-sapping lunges. And then do it again. And again…

It was all far more physical than I thought it would be. My expectation was that the early sessions would be about working with the ball in hand (well, actually I'd expected to be playing touch). Certainly that’s the way I’d have done it – let players get to a certain level of fitness before introducing contact-based work. My lower back problem flaring up wasn’t exactly unpredictable given that I’m such an old crock, but there were others who limped out before me this evening which suggests they were pushed too hard too soon.

With contact work obviously on the agenda I’ll have to sort myself out with a gum shield at the very least if I’m going to continue (and the way I’m feeling today the jury’s most definitely out on that one).

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