Getting fit for the GAA involves a number of different factors such as strength and conditioning, running and nutrition. A lot of GAA teams pre-season starts off very similar. Managers put players through their paces, meaning a lot of running and no footballs to be seen.
This is definitely a players least favorite time of the year. The weather is terrible and they are out slogging through runs on a heavy pitch. Most of the runs that teams do however, are not very beneficial. Running long distances with no time limit or goal has little or no benefit to a GAA player.
The most beneficial runs to get fit for the GAA are shuttle runs, as they are similar to what a player would be doing in a match. A player is always stopping and then going again.
Starting off at the end line and running out as far as the 21m line and back in as fast as you can would be an example of one set of shuttle runs. Some variations of this would be to sprint to the 13, 45, and 65 meter lines.
In order to gain maximum benefit from these, a realistic time limit should be set. There should also be a small rest time in between runs for example, 15 seconds to sprint to the 70m line and then 15 seconds rest until the next run. These kinds of runs are hugely beneficial to build up fitness during the pre-season.
As the weeks go by then the time limit allowed for the runs is getting smaller. The distance can also be varied in relation to the time of the year and schedule of the team. Coming close to championship time the runs are short and snappy to get the players as sharp as possible.
Another set of runs that greatly benefit GAA players are 20,40,60’s. These are performed by sprinting flat out to the 20 yard line and back in. Then straight out to the 40 and back in and then out to the 60 and back in. These should be completed twice without stopping and at full pace to get the maximum benefit from it.