Lions on tour
Millwall's players headed West last week to do some intensive fitness work at a training boot camp as their pre-season preparations hit the ground.
Fitness coach Warren Cock kept a diary of events, and has shared them with us...
Before we began we had to introduce ourselves to the Marines. This consisted of standing up one by one and sharing something about ourselves. During this exercise Tony Craig told us he uses sunbeds but they do nothing for him and Jack Smith reminded us he got married over the summer.
We were split into two groups, one started with a circuit on the beach with a champion fighter whilst the other group went on a cycle to view the marine training base before swapping over.
The circuit was very tough with lots of pad work, skipping, ton-up circuits consisting of 100 reps of body weight exercises and 'Cornish wrestling' which saw people get a chance to get their own back on their team-mates!
There was an inspirational talk in the evening from ex-Royal Marine John White, who had both legs and his right arm amputated after stepping on an IED in Afghanistan. Despite this, he still rock climbs, kayaks and is building his own family home. John's talk was very uplifting; the strength of mind and positive approach he took to challenges in the face of adversity both before and after his injuries in the Royal Marines made everybody think and ask many questions.
A 7am start began with a 1.5 mile jog down to the beach for 'zigzag' runs. In pairs one partner would run up a hill in a 'zigzag', whilst the other did torturous exercises until he returned, at which point you would swap over.
However, every time we swapped, another zig or a zag, was added to the hill run, making the work period for the exercises even longer. The idea here was work hard for your team-mates to lessen their suffering.
The Royal Marines gave high praise to the Millwall team for their effort here saying that the performance they saw was the best of any sports team they had worked with and that Millwall had lived up to their tough reputation!
Breakfast was followed by a session at 9am in which we took a long walk down the beach, paddle boarding and kayaking.
Josh Wright led the way with paddle boarding - and was forced to get his hair wet by soaked team-mates to level the playing field.
There was a team race which saw Tony Craig and Shaun Batt winning in a joint effort in a kayak.
The afternoon session started at around 2pm and consisted of volleyball and tug of war with the teams. There was a fantastic competitive spirit, some great rallies in the volleyball and effort by all.
The tug of war was hugely entertaining and the final consisted of The Avengers (the biggest of the teams with Trotter, Henderson and Ward) defeating the Marines to win. The Avengers showed great team work, they were strong, pulling in the same direction at the same time and in a co-ordinated effort.
After dinner it was time for a couple of the new lads to sing a song, and both Scott Malone and Chris Taylor provided some great entertainment. Scott tried his best with 'Let me love you' by Mario before Chris sung Robbie Williams' Angels.
There were a few worries about today as we were warned the night before that it would be a tough day. Furthermore, last minute requests to bring a spoon put slight worries in our minds.
The morning consisted of the players all learning to make shelters in the forest. We scored each others' shelters with Therry Racon and Dany N'Guessan coming last, largely due to the fact that they managed to build theirs inside out!
We then camouflaged each others faces with paint and cooked army rations, which were surprisingly tasty.
This was then followed by an observational exercise where we had to walk through an alley and look out for hidden items in the forest to test our powers of observation, like a patrol would in operations.
It was after this gentle start that the tough work began as we took on the Marine assault course. All in all we worked for about two hours.
We started off carrying two stretchers with a 13 stone dummy and four large cans of water. The idea was to work as a team in rotation to carry the load as quickly as possible.
We then had to erect a tent, led by Liam Trotter, who saw the instructions for just 30 seconds before carrying the stretchers again. We finally laid these down and had to run through waist deep rivers, up stony paths and down muddy hills! As if this wasn't enough, all this was interspersed with going through tunnels of water involving us to be completely submerged whilst team-mates pushed and pulled you through.
To round the exercise off, we undertook a three mile jog back to camp where after our evening meal we finally got to hear assistant kit man Paul Wilson sing a song after three years in waiting - and on his 21st birthday too! His song of choice was Why do you build me up?
It was a nice 9.30am start....or so we thought! We were told this would be a gentle jog down the beach - how wrong this was. It was a jog and it was on the beach, but gentle it was not.
Interspersed within our jog was runs to the nearest groyne, jumping over it several times and running back followed by shuttle runs, burpees, squats, press ups. Our challenges only got bigger as we went on, having to run up the beach several times and then negotiate getting their team-mates up on top of an eight foot wall without using the stairs.
Great determination and grit was shown by everyone, not just with this exercise, but the whole time in Exmouth and we all came away unscathed and a little tougher.
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