Stoke City defender James Chester says he has questioned coaching staff over the fitness regime given to players during the coronavirus delay.
Football is on hold indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic and football clubs up and down the country are finding ways to keep players fit ready for when – or if – the season does finally resume.
The Potters have sent their players GPS vests with workouts, the club tracking each player’s data to see whether they are actually putting in the miles.
And that hasn’t gone down with one particular player.
Chester, who is on loan from Aston Villa, isn’t a fan of the running, and he has made his feelings known.
“I was back on a football pitch on Monday,” he told The Athletic. “But not in the way I would have liked. Put it this way: I quickly gained respect for everyone who plays Sunday league football.
“The grass was horrific. I was dodging dog poo, mole hills, divots, and thinking while I was going along, “I’m doing myself more harm than good here!”
“Stoke sent us out a running session to do. We have to put on the GPS equipment they posted out and it tracks to an app on our phone. We get all the data back live. It’s quite smart.
“The session was four lots of six-minute continuous runs. I was fuming! I’m not sure when I ever run for six minutes straight in matches. I did question it with our guys and their answer was it mimics what you do in 90 minutes. I’ll take their word for it…”
It hasn’t all been bad, though, Chester finding some enjoyment from a recent session.
“Wednesday’s session was a little bit more enjoyable and I found a different pitch at a high school not far from me, which was a better surface,” he added.
“That was 10 two-minute runs called envelope runs. You start at the corner flag, run up the touchline to the halfway line, then diagonally to the other corner flag and back to where you started. It creates an envelope shape.”
The defender also went on to explain why the running sessions take their toll on his body.
He continued: “I’ve never been one for running, really, but at least I now do it pain free. I had problems with my right knee last season after playing for so long through aches and pains for Aston Villa. It was general wear and tear.
“The cartilage hadn’t fully come away, but every time I ran, it would catch. It was really painful. Eventually the cartilage came off and because the bone bangs on the bone, the body tries to protect itself and makes something called synovial fluid. I had that much fluid in my knee I couldn’t really bend it properly and my quad muscle wouldn’t tense because it just shut down.
“I tried anything I possibly could to help and at one point turned to a performance chef by the name of Dan Sargeant, who was recommended to me by Villa’s nutritionist Scott Robinson. Troy Deeney does a lot with him.
“Dan was sending me food specifically to combat the injuries I was having. His argument was that food is like medicine. The stuff he provided was really good, the finest ingredients. We’d get a delivery two or three times a week, all ready to go, wrapped in insulation. It just needed heating up.
“And it must have had some effect, because eventually I saw a change in the inflammation I was having. But blimey it wasn’t cheap.
My wife spoke to him over the phone beforehand, because when I told her the price she said, “I need to make sure it’s all legitimate!” She’s like a Rottweiler.
“When I first came to Stoke, I played three games in a week — that’s more than I’d played in a year. The doctor and physio didn’t think I’d be able to do that any more but my knee was fine. It was just my performance in the third game was s***e! I probably underestimated the effect the year out had on my body.”