Posts Tagged ‘Training’


When we walked back to our locker room after a bitter one goal defeat, and with Queen’s “We are the Champions” blaring out to the Oxford City Stars team, there was somewhat of a sombre mood in the changing room.

 

However, as we shook hands and I was watching the Oxford team celebrate on the ice, I was taking that whole scene in and thinking that next year that would be us. Whilst Oxford were definitely deserving of the title this year, it didn’t change the fact that it was painful to watch them celebrate. It always is when you set your goal at the championship and not quite achieve it. BUT, no matter how painful it was, it served as fuel for the summer and for our remaining games.

 

The image of the team celebrating on the ice is  branded on to my mind and I will no doubt use it for energy and motivation this off-season to make sure that the hunger grows to go out for the title hunt once more next season. I’m sure that it will be helping me in the midst of deadlifts, squats, bench press and speed & agility training sessions.

 

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It’s bound to be a gruelling off season for sure, with new challenges in terms of time management in the family front. I will be making an announcement here shortly about a feature that will run throughout the summer about the off season work that I’m doing and the challenge I’ve set myself, but more about that later.


Hockey player A: “When does your season start?”

Hockey player B: “Mine starts on 15th of September.”

 

That is a conversation that you could hear between hockey players across the globe for the next couple of weeks.

 

Players usually answer it by giving the date of our first game, but the truth is, the season started much, much earlier.

 

Sure the first game is the first time the fans might see the team in proper competition and in a game that actually matters, but for a player the season doesn’t start there (or it shouldn’t start there).

 

“When does your season start?”

 

The more appropriate question would be “When did your season start?” Well mine started in late March after physio’s had confirmed I was fit enough to train after my car accident in January (sustained a small tear in my rotator cuff, suffered from whiplash and concussion). I remember having started my off-season workouts the week before our official season ending party.

 

Since then it has been constant work, trying to figure out ways to make myself a faster, stronger and better player and executing those plans to the best of my ability. This might sound corny, but the start to the hockey season has been fun. For the first time in four years I have been able to train hard and stay healthy throughout. I have not had to heal too many injuries carried on from the end of the season (apart from the car accident) and I did not pick up any new ones during the training. Also a good sign was that neurologists gave me a clean bill of health.

 

It may sound cliché, but in many ways, getting to game play and playing is the easy part of the sport. It is everything else that is demanding. I’m not saying that the games are a breeze, because they’re not, but in many ways the work that has been done makes them easier. Playing and being on the ice is the fun part of hockey, but to be able to play at a competitive level and ensure you can outskate the opponent, you need to put in the work that is not as fun. As a coach once told me “hockey is similar to an (office) career. You want to get ahead in your career and you work hard to achieve those objectives. Hockey is no different.”

 

The off season has asked a lot, but it has given a lot back. I feel fitter, healthier and mentally stronger. There’s just something in running on a cold April morning in the rain that gives you a certain amount of grit. Or the fact that despite being on the verge of throwing up and deciding that another 100m sprint with a speed chute is “not a big deal”.

 

Now on the ice, it’s been a bit different. It’s been getting used to proper drills again from summer league shinny. It’s been about finding your feet and sorting out how all the work you did translates to the ice and to your skating. One thing I have noticed is that no matter how much you do off the ice in terms of strength and other conditioning exercises, there’s nothing quite like skating. The motion is different, and the muscles are used in a different way.

But at least there’s time till the first game to work all that out and get game-ready.

For a fan it’s a bit different. There’s the anticipation of news of player signings, what the team is going to look like, discussions around the water cooler about who will win the championship this year, who are the teams and players to look out for and sorting out the social life around the hockey schedule (Though the last applies to players as well).

 

When did your season start?


2 months have flown past and June is almost here. The world championships have been and gone and Stanley Cup is closing in on the final series, if the Rangers and Devils could decide which is the better team, but looks like that will be a 7 game series too.

 

End of April/May has been somewhat of a downer month in terms of off-season training and preparation. I don’t feel I had as good of a month as I did previously and where my weight and everything shifted for the better, I still don’t feel that I got everything out of myself and the program I was on. I didn’t get to go out to eat the miles off the road as frequently and I felt static. Then of course I had that damned virus wreaking havoc, which made me feel really lethargic and I probably missed a good few weeks of proper intensive training.

 

The good thing that came out of it is that I had my first skate since our last game of the season and my legs felt better than they have done in a while, which is good news when thinking ahead to the start of the season. Just need to keep at it and keep pushing on the plyometrics front to make sure that I increase my foot-speed and agility.

 

The one thing that I think I still struggle with is the diet. I don’t mean that I follow an un-healthy life style, though there are times when I do indulge myself, but that is a rare occasion. What I mean is that where I watch what I eat and everything, I feel that I am not eating the right things at the right time. It’s a tricky balancing act between getting your proteins and carbs and everything to make sure you optimise your body for peak performance. As a science it is quite interesting, but on the execution front it can get frustrating. The one thing that I am desperate to get rid of is the excess sugar, but yeah. I’ll let you know how that battle goes.

 

Also, if you wouldn’t mind doing me a huge favour. If you have Facebook, could you add www.facebook.com/nekoti.hockey as a friend and once your request has been accepted go click ‘Like’ on this following link: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=914271413462&set=p.914271413462&type=1&theater

 

Much appreciated.


This off season/pre season has been different from others that I’ve had, for many reasons. I don’t think that ever during my career my body (and mind) were so beat from the season. The mind pretty much due to the concussion rather than the mental strain from the season.

 

So for the first time in my life I was faced with a wholly new challenge. My hip was in a pretty bad shape, my head was a total mess and I was tired. Pretty much from finishing the last game of the season I knew that the summer was going to be far from easy, but then again, hockey doesn’t really give you a long summer holiday.

 

I think I gave myself about a week off from the ice and then started to hit the gym. While it probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do with the ongoing concussion symptoms, I needed to do something. Running made my head feel worse and the doctors said that I was OK to do light weights and go easy. Too bad I have a different idea of going easy to the doctors.

 

So I was able to train really hard through April and I thought that I had overcome the concussion issues. My body started to feel better and I felt stronger physically, but I was still hitting a wall. I was helping out at one of my wife’s trainings on the ice and I was doing a regular skating drill we did throughout the season. I was probably going at about 60% and I just literally didn’t know what the hell was going on. I went pale, blacked out and almost passed out. From skating at about 60%.

 

This then lead to heated debates and arguments about what I should and shouldn’t be doing and being a bone head I told everyone to STFU and let me decide what’s best for me. As a compromise I agreed to take a week out of training to give myself some extra time to re-coup.

 

If you follow me on twitter, or are unlucky to have me as a friend on Facebook, you know what happened to me on my first run after I resumed training. I was about 800meters from the office and I was doing a visualisation and mental exercises while running. I was so focussed that I didn’t see a pothole and I ran into it and twisted my ankle…. BAD! Where the ankle hurt for a few days, I was back at the gym lifting weights and on the bike 3 days after I hurt it. My thinking being, if I focus on exercises where there’s no risk of the ankle buckling or giving way, I’ll be OK.

 

The other issue I dealt with was the hip, which I mentioned at the start. As soon as the season had finished I entered into a rigorous physio therapy programme with Matthew Radcliffe, who is a the head physio for Southampton FC. Matt did a great job with me and seriously put me through the paces. I don’t think that I’ve ever worked so hard at physio, which I enjoyed as it was actually doing functional stuff that I knew would help and it kept me interested as I felt like I was actually having a workout.

 

The physio for the hip has worked as the times I’ve been on the ice, I’ve been skating pain free, which has shown me how much fun it can be. I was officially discharged from the hip physio and where I’m happy to know that I’ve been discharged and fit, I still have to do continuous exercises to ensure that the hip doesn’t flare up, that combined with a new pre-activation session.

 

Additionally, I’ve also been discharged from the ankle physio, which effectively brings to an end a regime of physio therapy that started in April. I think this summer I’ve been in physio for a longer period of time than ever before.

 

On the other hand though, my gym workouts have gone so well that I am actually feeling really good about the shape I am in and it is a definite step up compared to where I was starting from at the start of last season. Maybe more importantly the off season training has taught me more about mental toughness and discipline than anything else. I feel like the work I’ve put in, both in training and in physiotherapy has made me a stronger person and helped me to examine the game from a entirely new point of view. Despite the off ice training being hard and difficult at times, I have actually had fun doing it and I’m actually smiling at the gym, the same can be said of the times that I have been on the ice. Hockey is definitely fun again, which is something that I’ve missed among all the injuries I suffered with.

 

As for last season, well it is just that, it’s last season. I will take lessons from it, but for now my eyes are fixed on the 2011-2012 campaign. I think the most important lessons I have learnt this off season are those of patience, hard(er) work and trying out new things. I feel that I’m mentally stronger and I feel that I’ll be able to have fun instead of whitekncuckle the stick. There’s 6 days till we take to the ice as a team again, so I’ll be looking forward to seeing some of the guys I’ve not seen over the summer.

 

I can’t come up with a better ending to this than what a Finnish hockey journalist Jari Mesikammen (aka Karhuherra on twitter) said in his recent column: Forget about summer, drop the puck already!


It has been a while since I updated anything on the blog, so I thought that a quickie would be in order. Despite still spending time off the ice, I’m feeling really good. My off ice training is going well and I’m getting consistent good workouts in and I find that I am pushing myself to lift more weight, which is encouraging. As I come to complete the first month of the regime, I’m going to start adding more into the workouts and routines. At the start of May, I’ll be adding cardio and plyometric work into the mix. Hopefully it will pay dividends when I’m allowed to get back on the ice and resume full contact training.

I’ve also been doing a lot of physio work and my physio, Matt Radcliffe has been putting me through the paces. He’s definitely one of the better physiotherapists I’ve had the pleasure to work with. It’s been painful but I can feel that it is working so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I will not have to have my hip operated on.

The concussion related problems still bug me though. I still get head-aches and I suffer from concentration problems, which is a bit irritating. Additionally I seem to have memory lapses. Like the other week I successfully tied one bow on a sofa bed and went to do the next and did not know how to do it. I’ve been referred to a neurologist for further exams and hopefully a CT scan. I’m not worried that the scans or exams would reveal anything major, but you know, it’s more for my own peace of mind than anything and I guess to my family’s peace of mind as well.

I’ve also started hammering pucks at the net in our back-yard. The only trouble is that I don’t dare shoot top shelf after a few pucks pinged off the cross bar and ricocheted to our neighbours yard, nearly hitting them as they lay on the lawn tanning.

Needless to say, though it’s only been a month into my off-season training, I’ve been encouraged and I’m hoping I can carry the form throughout the summer.

One of the biggest questions I get asked (relating to the concussion) on Facebook and by friends is that whether the ongoing issues mean that I will be hanging up the skates. The answer is no, I won’t be. Aside from the concussion, I feel great and I think after the few weeks rest and ongoing physio the body is starting to feel good as well. I’ve got an itch to get back out on the ice, which is a good sign and you know what, I enjoy playing so there’s no reason to give it up. As long as I’m having fun with hockey I don’t see a reason why I should consider hanging up the skates.

There’s no denying that this concussion has been worse than any before and recovery has been slow, but it’s another bump in the road that I hope to leave behind soon enough.

P.S. Go Habs Go!


Working out can be a real drag sometimes. The long off season soon moves to the in-season and you’ve pushed yourself to the point where it feels easier just to throw in the towel and focus on the stuff that you’re doing on the ice. I have to admit that I’ve fallen victim to this many times before and I have tried ploughing through my workouts, despite feeling like I would rather stick pins in my eyes.

 

However, perhaps there is a saviour in your pocket. Since I got my hands on my first smart phone, I’ve been interested in fitness apps and have used them to a great degree, mainly for running though. The trouble is that when you are training on your own, it is hard to find the motivation or something to push you, so for running, tracking your success is quite a good motivator. But what about the gym? I downloaded an app called Nike BOOM after the Niketraining.ca website was raving about it. Well it was free so it was not like I was going to lose anything.

 

I gave it a go last night and I must say that I was slightly torn by it. The app basically works as a play list, but the catch is that you get motivational messages from some of the prolific athletes in your chosen sport. So every five minutes or so I’d get either Dion Phaneuf, Jarome Iginla, Steven Stamkos or well established strength and conditioning coaches to tell me to keep going. That is the unique feature of the app. Otherwise it acts like an MP3 player so you can play your favourite album through and through whilst working out.

 

What I found great about the app was the encouragement and the motivational messages. I was doing hammer curls and during the final set I was about to give up with my arms shaking till I got Phaneuf in my ears saying that ‘sometimes you get a voice inside your head to tell you to give up. That voice is not your friend. Keep pushing you’re almost there.” Sad as it sounds, it did give me a bit of extra motivation to finish the set and I do feel better about it.

 

The app has modes for working out, warm up and interval training, so it covers the basics of getting fit for your sport. For the interval section I would like to see features similar to the Adidas miCoach app, which I use extensively to track my running progress. At the moment all the Nike BOOM offers is only the encouragement and a music player.

 

However, I think that the App has a lot more potential than just acting as a music player with the odd occasional “atta boy” thrown at you. The app could be developed further to make sure that you have an all encompassing work out log, where you could record your sets, reps, weights etc so that you can monitor your progress. Or better yet, why not have sample workouts built into the app, designed by the people that are giving you the motivation? That would really set the Nike BOOM app apart from others.

 

Like said the app is pretty good as it stands, but it has potential to be so much more. If you are in a possession of an iPhone or iPod touch and you want to try it out, I would recommend it. I also think you can get it for your iPad, but you might look like a bit of a tit carrying an iPad around while working out.

 

In its current form I’d give Nike BOOM a 3/5 stars. If, however, Nike decides to take the app seriously and build in more features I’d be willing to revise the mark.