It’s been another tough, physical week at the training ground but I am feeling great and the progress has been really good.
I have been out on the football pitches Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday this week, and although I was on football pitches there weren’t too many footballs to be seen!
As I close in on being able to join in with full training again, I have had the dreaded “conditioning week.” When I say dreaded, it is meant a bit tongue in cheek because it is still much better than sitting in the treatment room or in the gym, however I knew every single day I was outside this week that my legs and lungs would be in a lot of discomfort! There has been a real mix in all of the sessions to make sure I have been working hard in every aspect. From short & sharp multi directional sprints with little rest, to longer repeated runs of over 100-metres. At the end of every session I have felt physically exhausted and there is absolutely no hiding place as a GPS system & heart rate monitors track every movement from a small piece of equipment that I wear. These systems have become very important to football clubs as it allows staff to accurately see everything that each player is doing during training and games and from all the data that is collected, training sessions can be modified to get the optimum amount of work and recovery. It is a really important tool for me having suffered a foot injury as it means my loads can be monitored live throughout sessions so when I hit my targets that the medical department and strength and conditioning department have set for me then I can finish the session without the risk of being overloaded.
It has been important to get the fitness work in this week but also just as important has been the preparation and recovery I do before and after each session to make sure I am in the best possible condition. Before each outdoor session I have a routine of an assessment by Phil Hayward and some mobilisations all around my foot and ankle to make sure everything is moving in the correct way. I then have my soft tissue work with Matt Wignall our masseur. Matt will release all the tissues that connect with the initial injury site and any other areas that may be overloaded. I then have a routine in the gym, which takes me around 20 minutes to complete. I have been doing this same routine over the last 3 years which involves different dynamic movements and stretches to make sure my body is completely ready to go into the warm up when I get outside. Since I started this routine and along with my post training routine I have been mainly able to stay clear of any muscular injuries.
After my outdoor sessions this week I have been coming in and starting the anti inflammatory process of icing and elevating my foot, to make sure I limit any inflammatory response to the increased load. My afternoons have then been more specific work for my foot such as proprioception sessions with the physio’s and then my upper body conditioning sessions as well.
All in all the week has been a big success and it now allows me really concentrate on more specific football work next week, to give a real indication of how close I am to return to full training.
I have also been very busy away from the training ground this week. Once I suffered the injury I was adamant I would try and turn it into a positive in some way and along with writing this blog I wanted to gain some experience in the media world. I was fortunate enough to do some summarizing work with Mikey Burrows and Matt Murray for our game against Blues a few weeks ago, and on Thursday I was invited down to Cardiff by BBC Wales to join presenter Jason Mohammad and ex-Wales assistant manager Kit Symons to cover Wales’ game against Northern Ireland. I was really excited to have the opportunity to do some TV work although I was a little bit nervous knowing it was live.
Jason and Kit were great and along with all the other technical staff they made it really easy and comfortable for me. We were on air for the build up to the game, then again giving our views at half time and finishing up going through the game at full time. It absolutely flew by and I really enjoyed it although I would of much preferred to be down on the pitch representing my country! The game was pretty drab in all fairness but Wales did ever so well to fight back and get the draw against a really tough and resolute Irish side.
On Saturday I headed down to Sky Studios to be a guest on the Saturday Sport Show on Sky News discussing the international break. This was really a great experience, from the moment I got there the whole place was so impressive. Being a genuine sports fan I was delighted to find out that the show would be aired in the Sky Sports studios and even more excited when the producer took me on a tour and I got to see the Sky Sports News set, it was huge and so much going on. After training on Friday I travelled down to Leicester to join Geoff Peters as a studio guest on TalkSport’s new station TalkSport 2 for ‘Up The League’, it’s a show that covers all things going on in the football league. The other studio guest was Steve Hodge, someone I know well from his time coaching at Wolves a few years ago. Steve had an amazing playing career and listening to his vast knowledge on the goings on in the football league was really impressive, and a real natural behind the microphone. Again, the time flew by and I thoroughly enjoyed it, it was so relaxed and just like having a chat with your mates down the pub about football….PERFECT!
I’m sure all football fans would love to see where things like Deadline Day and Soccer Saturday take place I was so fortunate to get that experience! After the little tour I then met Arron Armstrong who is a presenter at Sky, we chatted about the show and headed down to makeup.
I was mortified when I was sat in the chair and the very polite makeup artist starting applying foundation and anti shine, but after the initial shock and seeing what the miracle of makeup does I started to enjoy myself, I looked about 5 years younger before the dark eyes and sleepless nights that my children have given me! She even said I could take some wipes to wipe the it off with after I have finished but I said “No way, I’m keeping it on, I have to show my wife my new eyes!”
I was pretty nervous going live on air, you have the bright lights shining on you and it wasn’t scripted at all so I didn’t really know exactly what I’d be talking about. Arron was great with me and made feel so much more relaxed and it was amazing to see how good he was as soon as the cameras started rolling. I didn’t realize just how talented Arron, Jason Mohammad and Geoff Peters all have to be, the amount of work that goes into these shows is immense, its not just about their voice and presenting, they are constantly managing timings, content and messages from colleagues, it really is impressive stuff!
I have thoroughly enjoyed the media experiences this week and I’d like to thank BBC Wales, TalkSport 2 and Sky for all being so welcoming and giving me the opportunity to go their shows.
Thank you all for reading again and hopefully by next week’s blog I’ll be on the verge of full training!