Before I started playing cricket again I wrote about my concerns regarding my fitness levels and how well my body would cope, and throughout the season I documented in my diary how it was working out.
My end of season diary post covered in detail how I felt the season went but overall I was happy. My general level of fitness was good, but I struggled in two significant areas: my old injuries and years of neglecting them and the fact my body had not done anything like that required to play cricket.
I muddled/nursed my way through aided by a lot of stretching and less games being organised than I had expected to play.
I have three objectives over the off season: improve my overall level of fitness, rehabilitation of my old injuries and the effect they have had on my body, and improve my cricket specific fitness.
I have two questions embedded in my remaining brain cells to keep me focused: 1) what can I do to get the best out of myself and 2) what can I do to best help the team (and for the record retiring isn’t one of the ways I am considering!!). The 2nd we have limited control over in many ways – selection, form, availability – but in one of those “life ironies” the more focus on 1 the more control over 2.
I have allocated three time periods to achieve this: post season, off season and pre season.
Post Season: will be end of September and October where I plan on a lot of rest, stretching, walking the dogs and losing some weight.
Off Season: will be November, December and January where I will work on rehabilitation first, then strength and flexibility, bike (general fitness) and running (cricket specific). I also hope to have indoor nets throughout the off season.
Pre Season: will be February and March and will focus on two areas. I will intensify my running and cricket skills training in addition to establishing what will be my weekly maintenance schedule throughout the season.
I can achieve virtually all of this on my own at home and on Cannock Chase and the Canal but will need other people for the Indoor Nets (although Sands has volunteered to feed the bowling machine!!) and for fielding drills, which I hope can be done Saturday mornings at Barlaston.
In terms of specifics.
Weight Loss: I would not say I was hugely over weight, BUT I have too high a % body fat and I do not need to ask this old body to do more than it needs to so it will be a lot easier to move around if I am not fielding with a large bag of potatoes on my back. My core diet is healthy but I have a tendency to binge so for 5 months the aim is alcohol only twice a week, no crisps, nuts, chocolate, sweets or ice cream. No takeaways. Less bread. Higher % of protein to carbohydrates.
Dog Walking: the weather and the dogs ages makes a daily walk a non option so will aim for 4 walks a week, 3 of which will be circa 5miles and the other between 2 and 5miles.
Rehabilitation: this is a LONG list, but some of the issues are related i.e. 5 surgeries on my left knee and the way by body has accommodated this means my left knee does not bend fully (can’t get my left heal to reach my bum), my left hamstring is shorter (used for cruciate ligament repair) which has put pressure on my right hip. These have all improved during the season so my hope is they will improve significantly as they are all basically soft tissue (some issues with my knee are mechanical but should be less of a problem with above and strengthening of the surrounding muscles). My right thigh is another soft tissue issue. I tore it many years ago and whilst it healed I didn’t really do anything so there is an area that has a sort of dent in it which needs stretching out. Again has got better throughout the season so am hopeful of this as well. The issues with my shoulder (broken collar bone didn’t repair properly so not enough of a channel for nerve), neck and back (vertebrae) are mechanical but the main issues relate to the way by body and muscles have realigned to accommodate so again the stretching and pilates has helped so I think they can be improved, especially if I work on the muscle strength as well.
Strength: I have never had great upper body strength so stronger arms, shoulders, chest and hands wont come amiss and more muscle will burn up the calories better. The main area though will be legs i.e. squats and lunges.
Flexibility: believe it or not I am actually pretty flexible, it just takes me too long to ‘get there’ so I need to work on this and to be honest one down side of getting older is that you don’t seem to stay as flexible for as long so it is pretty much a daily task.
Running: this is a crucial area. I do not need to be able to run long distances but I do need to be a) better between the wickets speed wise and b) not get so puffed and I also need to be able to chase after a ball better. Shuttle runs and lots of fielding drills are the only real answer.
Bike: being non weight bearing this remains the best way for me to build up general fitness. I will continue to use it to build cardiovascular and leg strength and during the season I use it the day after a game to take stiffness out of legs and on game days to warm up.
Sounds a lot (it is) and tough (it will be) but one thing I want to take away from my return is a stronger and healthier body. I would like to play for another 5 to 7 years and I am still aiming at the Staffordshire over 60’s in a couple of years time so hopefully I have the incentive. I certainly have the time!
I am going to make this a sticky post for the duration and provide progress reports via the Comments Section.