As a supporter and sponsor of the QBE North Harbour Mitre 10 Cup rugby team, it is a thrill to see how well they have performed this year. It is clear they have been a well-organised side, led by two very good co-captains and coached and managed well.
During October I may have discovered one of their key secrets. There is no doubt they have had improved fitness and conditioning, but it may be in their recovery where they have made a real gain. And it might be that this can be put down to the work of an incredible lady called Kiri Price who works at AUT Millennium, our wonderful local community facility where sports performance is a focus.
During the 2017 season the QBE Harbour Rugby team has joined Kiri for regular Deep Water Running in the National Aquatic Centre at AUT Millennium. The recovery sessions are adapted to suit the specific athletes in water.
"It’s biomechanically the closest activity to running, and the weightless environment helps to support tired bodies after tough games,” explains Kiri. “I know the team finds it really good to offload the physical stress from playing and it’s a new challenge!”
Kiri’s got a big point of difference; she’s dedicated to designing sessions that are sport-specific and purposeful. Working closely with Harbour Rugby this season has allowed her to refine and improve sessions to better support the team’s recovery and improve fitness for players unable to train on land due to injury.
“Deep Water Running sessions change depending on who’s in the water. For marathon runners, we work longer intervals with a focus on technique and fitness. For the rugby guys, it’s all fast. They have to imagine they’re running for the try line! Ten second efforts, ease off, repeat.”
A number of the team actually started working with Kiri pre-season to help rehabilitate injuries.
“It’s such a good opportunity to allow the entire team to bond, especially for the injured players who continued to train with the team despite being unable to work out on the training paddock,” adds Kiri. "It can help to speed up recovery because they’re still working hard while injured. It’s something alternative to sitting on a stationary bike and peddling away, it keeps the team together as a unit.”
"There’s a complete offload on the joints, so it’s great for people in contact sports. Getting the team into deep water has been so much more beneficial than shallow water. We work on moving the body and mobilising the joints."
Team physiotherapist Matt Wenham knows that Kiri’s work has paid big dividends. “Kiri is the sort of gold nugget that every successful organisation must unearth to help yield its full potential. This programme, with Kiri’s enthusiasm, has helped our squad recover much quicker than expected and has also reduced our injury toll compared to previous campaigns. In fact, I see so much value in it that I have joined Kiri for a weekly session!”
Harbour’s strength and conditioning trainer Alex King also has nothing but praise for Kiri’s work. “Kiri has been amazing for our 2017 Mitre 10 Cup campaign; she has provided water-based training to injured players and as a result these players have not lost any of their conditioning along the way."
For Kiri, it’s been fascinating as the season has gone on. "I’m watching the games closely to see how the boys move, where the injuries are coming from and adapting sessions to help them bounce back between games.”
For the Harbour players, recovery is a 40 minute session dedicated solely to active recovery. Kiri gets the team using their entire bodies. The recovery sessions optimise the small downtime when the team is expected to play again in just a few days time. There are also high intensity trainings. Slightly shorter, at 30 minutes, with a focus on driving the heart rate up and pushing all the energy systems.
Interested in trying Deep Water Running?
Visit www.autmillennium.org.nz/aquatics or call 09 477 2024 to find out more!