This morning saw the pre-season preparations of the Barnet squad step up a gear as the players completed their second round of polar runs.
The series of interval runs represent one of the toughest challenges that Martin Allen’s men will be put through during their intensive summer training. Having completed the first round during their first week back at the club, today’s second round was designed to see exactly how far the players have come during the intervening three weeks.
A single polar run comprises six shuttles of running 50 yards and back, before completing the set by running ten yards and back to the finish line. Each player is expected to complete six sets with just 70 seconds rest in between as they look to build up their stamina and endurance ahead of the new season.
Barnet’s new physio Jayde Cooke talked us through the theory behind the idea, explaining:
“Lots of the top clubs do it since it reflects how the players will have to work hard during a match situation, and so it provides a good scale to see how fit the players are and how well they are going to cope during a 90 minute game.”
The prospect of another intense test of their fitness was clearly having an effect on the players, with Andy Yiadom commenting beforehand:
“We did them a few weeks ago and it was extremely hard. We’ve got a tough day ahead. I didn’t get much sleep last night thinking about them!”
Meanwhile, first thing this morning player-coach Graham Stack tweeted:
"Early start! Running shoes at the ready #Preseason #PolarRun #SunBurn #SickBucket #JellyLegs."
Yet on a scorching hot morning here at The Hive all of the players pushed themselves to the limit during a short but sharp session which was watched over by both Martin Allen and Jayde Cooke, as the players took it in turns to cheer on their team mates, record their times and aid their recovery between sets.
Speaking after the session, Elliott Johnson was clearly relieved that it was all over:
"They are just brutal, brutal runs. You could see how hard the boys work and how intense the training is. Nobody holds back, everybody goes full throttle and by the reaction of the boys afterwards you could see how tired they were.
"There was definitely an improvement from the last time that we did it just under a month ago, you could just tell that everybody was running stronger and looking fitter."
Meanwhile, new signing Bondz N’Gala was getting his first taste of polar runs having not yet joined up with the squad last time they did them, and he admitted that it was a good, if exhausting, experience:
"It was a good experience. The lads go on about it all the time so it was good to finally test it out and see how it went.
"It is a little bit different but I think that it is more realistic to football. Football is about both speed and endurance and this is a great run to test that."
Catching up with Jayde at the end of the day, she was clearly impressed with what she had seen:
“Everyone seems to have improved remarkably and the team spirit between the lads was just incredible. They were all cheering each other on and you could tell that everybody really wanted to improve and beat their old times so that was really good to see.”
To see exclusive footage of the session, player reaction and Jayde’s verdict watch our review of the day here.