Sunday, 30 March 2003

In training with Susie Appleby; Your fitness

Susie Appleby is scrum-half with the England women's rugby union team Before taking a career break from the police force, I worked full-time and played rugby. Training was difficult to fit in, because I was juggling so many things at once. The national lottery now pays my salary, and I am one of the few professional women rugby players.

In the past five years, my training has become more rugby-specific and more focused on improving my game. Sport England supplies the England team with personal trainers. I see mine for an hour each week, but he guides me through the rest of my training regime.

Rugby is a contact sport, but even though I am a woman, it does not cross my mind when I get on the pitch that I could get hurt. I do what comes naturally. If you are scared of going into challenges, that is when you will be injured.

Training is essential to prepare yourself before a match; if you are not physically fit, you are more likely to be injured. If you train hard, you can play hard and take all the knocks.

There are a few women in the England team who have had babies, but it has not stopped them from getting back into the sport. Preconceptions about women's rugby still exist, but things have improved over the years Weekly routine Monday: the day after a game, we have a recovery session in the morning, which includes swimming, running and a massage Tuesday: with my personal trainer we focus on speed endurance, speed agility, my reaction to the ball and sprinting. In the evening I have a two-hour rugby session at Clifton Ladies rugby club which ends at 9pm Wednesday: weight training in the gym, focusing on the legs and upper body.

Playing at scrum-half and occasionally fly-half, I need quick speed off the mark.

In the evening I have another session with my club Thursday: speed endurance session in the morning, followed by a swim in the afternoon Friday: back in the gym, but will begin to ease off, with a game so close. In the afternoon I focus on individual skills, such as passing and ball control with a partner Saturday: rest day Sunday: match day. Just have a light snack before a club game at 2pm Diet: My intake consists mainly of carbohydrates and protein - pasta, chicken, tuna, for example End of the season: the season runs from September to May. When it ends, we play a lot of touch rugby. In the gym we use heavier weights and work for longer hours, to maintain strength and stamina, because we are not playing.

The England team travels to Canada in June to play in the Churchill Cup. It will be the first time that the men's and women's teams have toured together

Sunday Times (London, England) (March 30, 2003): p31

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