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Fiona Pocock: Get Ahead with Interval Training

So the Olympic vibe is still here and everyone has gone sports mad. With this in mind I thought it only apt to write a piece in homage to the pleasure we have all gleaned from the Games. And with the Paralympics just underway, an uplifted London is host to yet another show of incredible entertainment and unbounded inspiration.

I for one am really excited about what this could mean for sport in this Country. With the term legacy at the forefront of our minds, it would be the ultimate anticlimax if we were all to return to our ordinary lives and leave our musings of sporting dreams behind us. So what are you going to do to continue this revolution of sporting ambition?

I’ll tell you what I’m doing, and maybe it’ll give you that little nudge to follow through with your own ambition. After all, one should not regret the things they have done, but the things they have not done.

I have recently been appointed as the Head Coach of East London Women’s Rugby Club.

Coaching a rugby team has always been one of my aspirations and I am delighted to have been given the opportunity to take on this challenge so soon. East London RFC is a brand new team and already we have over 25 players, with plenty more on their way.

East London RFC

And with the rugby season just the other side of the high jump bar, I need to make sure I don’t lose sight of what’s to come. As the September fixtures loom, the time to get the players in the best possible shape is running out. Pre-Season is a crucial phase in any sports training as it sends you off in to the season at full speed.

I like to think of the season as a 200m sprint final…(Hello, Olympic reference)

You’re out of the blocks like lightning to get ahead of your competitors and enter the bend with as much momentum as possible. Without a good start, it’s difficult to come back fighting, and you’re at a disadvantage for the rest of the race.

Full speed is attained coming out of the bend where you’re upright and sprinting in a straight line. If you achieved a good start out of the blocks, you’ll be in the lead at this point. Everything is going well, you feel like you’re floating and it’s as though nothing can go wrong. Mid-way through the race and you’re leading the way.

So you push on and take your speed to the limit because you can see the finish line now. Competitors are in your peripheral vision but you ignore them because you’re flying. Knowing that you’ve prepared for this moment and you’ve left nothing in the tank. They soon disappear from view.

With this in mind at East London RFC, preparation for the season will involve a phase of aerobic fitness, high intensity fitness and speed and agility, all mixed in with ball skills.

At the moment there aren’t any matches on a Sunday, so there is no need to worry about getting sufficient recovery during the week. So I’ll be pushing the girls hard in order to teach their bodies to be able to cope with the high demands of playing.

Interval training is my preferred way to achieve high levels of fitness.

For example, and much to the girls’ delight, our latest session included the following lovely piece of fitness:

Pitch length sprints

Sprint hard for 30s seconds, walk for 30s, sprint again, then walk. We repeated this for around 8 repetitions (4 minutes of work). Then we did the whole thing all over again. The aim during each 30s sprint is to run as far as you did in previous attempts.

Because rugby is an intermittent sport, doing this type of training will encourage your anaerobic threshold to improve. This is your ability to remove a waste product called lactic acid in your muscles so you are able to carry on working for longer and maintain a high performance level. After this fitness has been achieved, we will move onto more technical training when the season kicks off in mid-September.

So whatever activity or sport you fancy getting involved in, now is the time to do it.

For those of you who are interested in playing rugby but aren’t sure how, get in touch with FindRugbyNow to find your nearest club or check out the Club Finder on the top right of this page.

JOIN US. I hold coaching sessions for East London RFC every Wednesday night at 7pm and matches are on Sundays. Please contact Sam from my PR team on for more information.

About Fee Pocock

Northampton-born Fiona played for Petersfield RFC from 1995-2006, starting at the age of age of seven. She captained Petersfield U16 for two years and went on to represent England U20 and A teams along the way to gaining 22 full caps and scoring 18 Test match tries – including the first in her country’s 2010 WRWC campaign against Ireland.   She became the Sky Sports HD Woman of the Match, along the way to becoming England’s top try-scorer in the pool stages but missed the final against the Black Ferns through a knee injury. Fiona has also played for Richmond in the Dubai Sevens, appeared in the Amsterdam tournament and represented England at the Nations Cup in Canada.  View all posts by Fee Pocock

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