Pre-season running diary - Ash Willis at Allestree Park.
Location: Allestree Park, Derby
Time Started: 10.30
Time Finished: 12.30
Distance Ran: Too far
So after injuring my knee on Sunday 17 April playing for my local side the gaffer, Nigel Clough, was determined to get me fit for the new season. His idea was to get me involved with the first-team during pre-season training.
It was something we’d lined up for a long while as the injury was supposed to be fully healed by this point, but that’s not how it panned out. To cut a long story short this was my first bit of exercise since my injury, 12 weeks down the line.
Being a professional footballer is not all what it seems. It’s not about the fancy lifestyle and the flashy cars and it doesn’t matter if you’re the most technically gifted played on the planet, if you’re not fit enough I guess you’d struggle in football.
So the morning started at 10.30AM with a ‘warm-up’ which in football terms is a 2.5 mile jog round the perimeter of Allestree Park. In my terms, that is more than a warm-up, but I’m not a professional footballer.
The lads breezed the 2.5 miles, and as you can imagine I was plodding along at the back, but I made it.
We had a short drinks break, and I mean short. Then before you know it we’re back on our feet and making our way to the lake. From the outside the lake doesn’t look TOO big. Yes it’s fairly large but nothing massive, until you start running round it. I think the lake is just under a mile, 0.8 miles or something like that. The objective was to get round it as quickly as possible so we split up into two groups and headed separate ways round the lake.
The quickest player came in at around four minutes and the rest of the pack followed seconds later, whereas I came in not seconds later, but minutes later..the pace was quick, and too quick for me. A couple of minutes rest then the same groups headed round the lake again, the other way. I’ll hold my hands up and admit I sat this one out.
After the players returned from their second lake run, which by the way they finished even quicker than the first time, we headed back to base and got more fluids on board.
We made our way over to what can only be described as a ‘black’ ski slope, for those who have been skiing. For those who haven’t been skiing, it’s pretty steep. Crosby and Beardo acted as markers on the hill, in which we had to stride our way up to, just the six times!
Once everybody had completed their six hill sprints they made their way to the bottom and had a breather, but it didn’t end there. The gaffer told us the tradition of touching the red flag at Allestree Park, which just happened to be situated at the top of the hill we had just sprinted up six times. 3, 2, 1 off you go! The lads set off up this hill, leaving me behind of course but I chased after them, only to hit a brick wall (not literally), half way up. By this time my body was screaming at me and I had no power left in my legs.
A quick stop at the top before we made our way back to base again where we were informed we’d be running the ‘warm-up’ route again. So that’s just another 2.5 miles, but just in a quicker time. My body was telling me no, so I asked the gaffer if I could sit this one out, I’m better at watching than running.
14 minutes had passed and we saw our first player emerge from the bottom of the hill, Lucas Akins. I must admit the other players weren’t far behind him at all! With probably two or three minutes splitting the whole bunch they all took a well-deserved drink to round off the morning session.
As I said at the start, football is not all what it seems. You have to be as fit as this team, which I wasn’t even close to. Hats off to the whole team for completing the morning session, and hats off to the management team for a terrific session.
A big thanks goes out to the gaffer, Nigel Clough for inviting me to his session. I’ll remember to say no next time.