Hello friends from Goal.com!
Diego Restrepo here from beautiful San Cristobal, Venezuela.
I just finished my first semester with Deportivo Tachira, where as a team we have a tough season, struggling in the local league and getting knocked out of the first round of the Copa Libertadores. But there was a silver lining to the season, in the last fixture of the league we qualified to the Copa Sudamerica, and after a month of playoff action and tough games, we qualified! This is great news for the team, since we will be playing in an international tournament again.
Personally, it also is great for me, since the team will be playing three tournaments next semester: The Venezuelan League, the Venezuelan Open Cup, and the Copa Sudamericana. This means the team will have a busy semester, with plenty of games and competitions to participate it. With the increase of matches, I’ll have more opportunities to play and make my Venezuelan debut, if I maintain good form and coach decides that he needs me.
Last season I played with the reserve team (which competes in the Venezuelan second division) while also serving as the No. 2 goalkeeper for the first team, but I did not feature in a first team game. I hope that with continued hard work and professionalism, I’ll get a shot this season.
For this blog, I wanted to give you an idea of a normal day during my “vacation” time. The team got three weeks off for summer vacation. Many of my teammates use these days off to rest, go on trips with their families and unplug from the soccer world for a bit to recover. For me, as a backup goalkeeper, I believe this time is essential in order to prepare myself physically for a long season, allowing me to start preseason in great shape. For that reason, I chose a great place to spend my free time working out at the gym!
Goalkeepers need very specific skill set: you need sharp reflexes, strength/power in your body (in order to jump and dive), speed, and fitness in order to last six months straight of training/games. My work as a goalkeeper set me up for very a specific gym routine, which focuses on strong cardio work, and weight training that emphasizes power and speed. Another key part, which goes hand in hand with gym work, is nutrition.
Here’s a normal “vacation day”:
- 8am: Get up; eat a strong breakfast with protein, light carbs, and good fats for energy that I’m going to need for the day. Two scrambled eggs, wheat toast and orange juice is a good example.
- 10am: First gym session starts with a ten minute warmup jog and stretch. Then, there's weight training for 45 minutes to an hour. The key is to maximize the time spent at the gym.
Lots of friends go to the gym to socialize, spend two hours chatting and don’t break a sweat. An example of a routine that maximizes gym time if the following exercise combination: 10 reps of seated row, combined with 10 reps of bicep curls. Row focused on the back muscles, curls focuses on your arms. While I use one muscle group, I rest the other, while still always maintaining high intensity and never fully resting. Not only am I getting a good muscle strengthening set, I am also improving my cardio at the same time. Kill two birds with one stone, and a much more effective workout than the usual one set then rest routine. And I sweat like crazy!
- 1pm: Balanced lunch, usually a protein (chicken), with greens (spinach salad with oil & vinegar), and a simple carb for energy (pasta, brown rice, etc.)
- 2pm: A good nap, or like we call them down here, a siesta!!!
- 3pm: Afternoon snack, usually fruit or granola bar. More clean energy for the body.
- 4pm: Second gym session. Cardio work, which is key for any athlete. Usually an hour and I like to change it up every day. I’ve been doing a lot of spinning classes on a stationary bike, and running on the treadmill.
A lot of people have this incorrect belief that goalkeepers are not very good athletes, and they ended up in goal because of fitness issues. At the U.S. Soccer Federation Academy, our goalkeeper coaches emphasized that they wanted the U.S. goalies to be some of the best athletes on the team, in great shape, because our job requires quick reactions and the use of the body a whole. My personal goal has always been to be able to run and have the same fitness level as a field player. Cardio work is key in order to be ready for preseason training, since the first weeks are usually very taxing on the body.
- 7pm: Dinner with the family, similar to lunch, with a protein, a salad, and a simple carb.
- 8pm: A good FIFA12 session on PS3 with my friends in the US, Colombia, and other parts of the world. I love playing FIFA not only to have fun, but also with PS Online to be able to keep in touch with my friends and catch up, regardless of where in the world they are located.
- 10pm: Hit the sack in order to recover and get ready to do it all over again the next day!
I hope you’ve enjoyed a behind the scenes look to my time off! The life of a professional athlete is incredible, and being able to play soccer as my job and for a living is an incredible blessing, but this life also brings daily sacrifices to everyday life.
In the next blog entry, I’ll be talking about our first weeks of preseason and my work on the field.
Till next time!