Garvs: Pre-Season Diary from Portugal

29 July 2016

Hot off the pitch in Portugal, Bath Rugby flanker Matt Garvey takes us through his first three days of pre-season training.

Day One 

Day One of camp is always interesting: the nerves, the anxiety and the sheer panic of the what the Strength and Conditioning staff have planned for us. For some of us camp veterans, it's just about switching into survival mode and helping the younger lads get through it. 

0700. Session 1. For me, this started with a 40-minute, steady bike session. Others were not so fortunate: they had the dreaded Spin Class with our very own qualified spin instructor, Toby Booth. 

0740. Prehab Class. Pelvic/core stability with the physios. If you thought the conditioners were tough then think again. The physios are relentless. 

0800. My favourite: Breakfast. I'm good at this part. 

0900. Lower body weights. Tough to do in a very hot gym. The sweating doesn't stop all day. This is followed by lineout drills. 

1200. Lunch.

1400. Meeting followed by training. Normally not too bad but it's 36 degrees and no breeze. Ouch. 

After training we have the worst part of camp: fitness. The formidable 'Runways' [essentially, an extremely energy-sapping shuttle run]. I've never met a player who enjoys these, and I don't think I ever will.

Ice bath and pool recovery is a highlight of the day. Realising the physical part of the day is done is a huge relief.  

1700. Dinner. 

2000. Team meeting, then back to my room, which I share with Kane Palma-Newport. 

Day Two 

0645. Wake up and early bike session again. Nothing new, just trying to beat the distance I achieved yesterday. 

So as it turns out, I was wrong yesterday when I said Runways were the hardest part of camp. At 0845 myself, Guy Mercer, Tom Ellis and Levi Douglas are the first group for Power Endurance. For those of you who don't know, this mainly consists of pushing and pulling heavy sleds, which today is also accompanied with wrestling. Ten circuits of this was enough to reduce me to the foetal position. 

My only salvation was that I was part of the first group to do this and didn't fully know how tough it would be. The groups after us watched in horror as the realisation of what they were about to do hit them. 

After a couple of hours' rest we were back on the field training. Again it was around the 35 degree mark, but with an Atlantic breeze taking the edge off it. Today was mainly Defence Day. Francois Louw started smiling as this is by far his favourite session. Tackling is one of his favourite hobbies. 

Once again there was a conditioning element post-rugby. This is what the strength and conditioners get paid for: a good flogging of the boys. It's always tough but it feels quite rewarding when you have finished. 

Tonight was an evening off. Some boys head into town or some stay in the villas trying to recover for Day Three.

Highlight of the day has to be riding a tandem bicycle with Guy Mercer to the local shop. Didn't start well but we are keen to give it a second try later in the week. 

Day Three 

Again we were up before the sunrise. Usual groups again. Some boys on the bike, some doing extra upper body weights (us forwards mock the latter for being too weak!).

Breakfast as usual. God knows how many eggs we get through. It must be an obscene number. 

Upper body weights today. Always good to see the alpha male competition happening; everyone trying to lift more than each other. Once again, Max Lahiff lays down an impressive marker. Guy Mercer tries hard, bless him. 

Rugby in the afternoon is again pretty intense. Squad is split into two teams today and it's all about which team can convert pressure into points. George Ford's team wins as he kicks a drop goal. 

Tomorrow is a day off so the team went out to the marina for a well-organised team meal, which was a welcome change of scenery. Good bonding session and nice way for everyone to get to know the new players better.



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