Fitness Posted almost 13 years ago

It took me a couple of days to recover after our win over Australia at Eden Park. It was a hard physical test match – what you would literally call a bruising encounter – and without a high fitness level it would have taken me much longer to recover from the knocks.

Some people may think that I spend my life pumping iron in the gym and loading pasta into the body, but I am not like the Franks brothers. I am a meat and three veg sort of guy who does a lot of aerobic and anaerobic running in order to get the fitness levels that I need.

There is not much of an off season these days – four weeks if we are lucky – and so I spend the first fortnight giving my body a rest. I then spend the next two weeks putting a few miles into the legs. Every other day I will run for between 40 minutes and an hour. In the off season I will also put in one gym session a week. You have to do it, but I can’t say that I enjoy it.

During the season I will take my running distances down and do a more explosive series of reps. I might do ten times 50 metres with a 30 second turn around between each. I will also do a series of 100 metre and 200 metre runs, one a minute. I won’t be running flat out all the time, but maybe at 80%. These sessions last about 40 minutes.

Nearer game time I will work on getting off the ground quickly. I will do a 20 metre sprint, go to ground and spring back up again. Simulating what you do in matches is a pretty good way of working on those specific fitness levels.

People can get carried away with working on their body to an extent where they almost become muscle bound. I think a lot of people overlook the core muscles. I need to be supple in the back and abdomen with all the bridging that I do in a match. I have borrowed exercises from pilates to help in my core flexibility.

There is a lot of talk about sport and diet but I don’t think you need to get hung up on it as long as you eat well. As I said, I am a meat and three veg guy, but there’s nothing wrong with that as long as you are getting the right balance of proteins, carbs and vitamins. Get your portions right, eat regularly and don’t gorge on sugar and fatty stuff.

Leading into a game we will fuel up in order to have plenty of energy, but it is just as important to eat well afterwards. Sorry, but don’t head straight to the bar if you can find time. You need the right proteins and vitamins to help repair the muscles that are now crying out for help.

Then you can have a beer or two. Cheers.

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_Graham Henry on Richie McCaw:_ Very modest and very intelligent with seven straight A's in his first year at university. An outstanding number 7, the only man to win the IRB player of the year on three occasions. He leads by example, he sets objectives, he has the respect of the troops and a great feel for the moment. Up there with Wilson Whineray, Brian Lochore, Graham Mourie, Buck Shelford and Sean Fitzpatrick as one of the great post war captains of New Zealand rugby. He is a very special man.

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