OLLY BARKLEY #4: DAY IN THE LIFE OF A PROFESSIONAL RUGBY PLAYER - PART TWO

Olly talks about the regime of a modern professional

By Olly Barkley, 4 March 2011

So we've pranced around the gym in sleeveless vests that sports brands continue to supply us with (big fan) while trying not to get busted staring at the female athletes lifting more weight than we do. We've knocked ten bells of...errrr...we've knocked ten bells out of each other for the greater good of the breakdown and by this stage we've probably thrown more calories down our necks than the average bloke would in thirty six hours.

It's at this point that the majority of people I meet think that it's home to play Call of Duty until the wee hours. Training might be over but while it's a crucial part of our preparation it's still only 50% of our preparation and 50% of our working day.

What we put into our bodies in the first fifteen minutes following training is crucial to our recovery and once we've done various extras that will usually be specific to our position, Buncie will meet us with a shaker, and a dioralyte sachet. The shaker contains a mix of carbohydrate, protein and glutamine and will usually taste like a cookie or strawberry ice- cream and the dioralyte sachet contains essential salts and tastes exactly like a pint of seawater. Lovely stuff. Wade Dooley and friends would be turning in their post session pint.

Having wretched our way through our dioralyte it's to the dreaded cold bath for another necessary evil. I shan't bore you with an in-depth breakdown of the science behind why we strip naked and sit in ice cold water offering up any masculinity in the process (not a place for the overly self aware) but it does do two very important things. Firstly it reduces any tissue swelling that may have arisen from high impact training, and secondly, the flushing effect you get from changing from cold to hot water helps to move any waste products derived from intense training. I'm usually last into the showers having kicked for long after training has finished but I'm usually joined by Peter Short who has spent an equal amount of time icing 90% of his gargantuan frame in the physio room. Shorty has one of those dark yet beautifully colourful minds you sometimes wish you'd never got into deep conversation with, least of all when you're fully naked submerged in hot water.

From here it's into my tights (another part of our recovery protocol, I only cross dress on bank holidays) and back to the club for lunch still wondering why Shorty and I spent so much time talking about why bum fluff is blue. I mean, really, grown men.?

We're very lucky at Bath Rugby. Nutrition is something that we take very seriously and as a result of this we're catered for ably by our resident chef's Jerry and Russ, or bomber head, as Flat's likes to affectionately call him.

Lunch is the only meal we eat at the club; so you'll often find the boy's piling their plates beyond eye level having not eaten for at least half an hour. I've had my metabolic type worked out through blood testing some years back, so I know biologically that I'm better suited to a more protein and vegetable based diet. I'm a bit of a fatty at heart, so I have to keep tight control on what goes into my mouth. After ten years in practise I'll usually take down three egg whites straight off to get a good source of protein in and then pile my plate up with green vegetables and whatever meat is available. Yes, it's dull but I'm not blessed with a cast iron metabolism or a freaky ability to grow and hold onto muscle mass, I have to therefore, be quite disciplined about my food, which can sometimes border on the anal.

olly barkley, blokely columnist // IMAGE RHINO
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The clowns at times like these are Luke "I'm weirdly comfortable with my own nudity" Watson and Lewis "I just can't stop hitting people in the nuts" Moody

Olly Barkley

On banter at Bath Rugby

Some people in life are always late, they have little grasp as to what's going on around them and they're organisation skills are non existent. Helen Shand, our masseuse and lady in charge of medical admin is not one of those people. For ten years now every player employed by the club has without fail, had a text the night before telling them what time they have physio and who it is with. She takes thousand's of pounds of supplement orders and she also is in charge or coordinating everyone's MRI scans, x-rays and operations. I'd back this lady to successfully coordinate the evacuation of an entire country and it's a level of togetherness I can only dream of. Helen having all her duck's so tightly in a row means the right players get the right physio and a massage exactly when they need it. It's this part of the week where players will either have treatment for a new injury that may prevent them from taking part on the weekend, or general maintenance on injuries that may mean they're body is only operating at 70-80% of it's maximum. Anything above 80% is a bonus.

So it's 3.30pm. I've eaten, I've trained, I've eaten, I've tweeted, I've trained, I've eaten, I've tweeted, I've discussed the finer points of bum fluff, I've eaten and I've been flicked in the nuts so much that I'm now walking to the car with a decent forward lean.

This is the modern day rugby player in a nutshell. We work hard, we're professional about our preparation but we're also as childish and real as the next twenty something bloke playing sport with his teammates. It's this learned and honed ability to be able to switch from one walk of life to another, from being professional to a big kid at the blow of a whistle that keeps us all fresh and coming back for more day in day out. The content and professionalism of a rugby player's training regime may look infinitely different now than when Gareth Edwards was dummying his way to glory but the beast inside the player has not.

Track of the week:

This puts one of the biggest tracks of last summer against one of the biggest tracks of all time and from completely contrasting genres. It's not hard to mix an acapella with an instrumental but getting it this right is. Kevin Le Fonque take a bow.

I heard it through the one - Swedish House Mafia vs Marvin Gaye (Kevin Le Fonque mash up)

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