All players complain about returning to preseason training and the struggle to get back to match fitness after some well-deserved time off. I've discovered it’s the same for coaches.
There's a saying in the States - 'the Freshman 15' - which refers to the weight most college students gain during their first year away from home. Last year was my first year in College rugby and unwittingly I also managed to be less than careful with my diet and exercise in my first 12 months. It was a fact that was drawn to my attention at a family wedding this summer and being a mostly rugby crowd they were not slow to tell it like it is.
So while planning my next season as Head Coach at Dartmouth I decided to set myself a challenge of losing those love handles in my own personal preseason. As a player, I had nutrition and exercise plans to follow to keep me game ready and I knew this approach worked so started on a health and fitness regime to get back in shape.
For the past two months, I've started my day with a mix of cycling, running and weights and I'm getting the results I want. Don’t get me wrong it isn’t easy that first morning, or the second or even the third but it’s a goal I want to achieve. A few aches and pains or early starts are a small price to pay when it comes to feeling healthier.
Being a coach may not have the physical peaks that playing did but it’s a long slow slog and like everyone it’s easy to let fitness slip when there are demands on your time. There is always another meeting, or training session or game to prepare for but I've noticed even in this short time how much better I feel and more productive I am just by taking the time to get active again.
Having served my first season in an Interim Head Coach role I now find myself promoted to Head Coach and we have a busy schedule ahead of XVs and 7s rugby. The college game is vibrant and with the expansion of national competitions, more sponsors and tv coverage there will be plenty to keep me occupied. There is a big season ahead for Dartmouth 'Big Green' and I want to be ready for the challenges. I look forward to taking on the best teams at the top level in the domestic game because to be the best you have to play the best.
I read Sir Clive Woodward's book "Winning" in which he said a 'coach should look like one.' Hopefully with the work I'm putting in ahead of the start of the 2013-14 year I will look like the Head Coach of an Ivy League College.
Transitioning from player to coach involves many changes and getting back in shape is just one of the steps towards that change. It will also make it easier to shout at players 15 years younger than me as I pass them on our training runs.