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Natasha Brennan from Recruiter to Professional Rugby Player!

13th October 2014
Want to know what it’s like to train as a full time athlete on the “Road to Rio”? Here is the first blog from Natasha Brennan who has worked for Sporting and Betting Appointments for the past two years before being selected for the England Women’s Rugby Sevens squad as they build up to their Olympic goal. We are delighted to be supporting Natasha, a flying winger known here as “Tash the dash!” and we will be publishing her blog on a regular basis as she prepares to win GOLD! Here is Natasha's story in her own words.

Welcome to my first blog describing the start of my dream of competing in Rio and becoming an Olympic Champion in 2016!

Despite completing my first month as a professional rugby player, I still find myself feeling as though I am in camp or that I have to return to work next week! The last year has been a whirlwind of working, training, competing in sevens competitions all over the world and winning a World Cup! Becoming a full time professional rugby player has been the icing on the cake and literally a dream come true. Since playing an elite level of sport from the age of 14, the dream of training full time and going to an Olympics has always been the goal; and having the experience of winning one of the most prestigious awards in sport – a World Cup – adds to the fuel and desire to overcome all the trials and tribulations that come with being an elite athlete.

After a relaxing break, post World Cup and finishing my day job, it was straight into the new full time sevens program in our new training base down in Guildford at the beginning of September. For many of the girls, including myself, this first month has been a case of getting into the routine and adapting the body to training full time Monday to Friday. Our initial focus has been about periodising our training up to our first competition. While we will have training games and tournaments in the next six weeks, our key focus will be building towards the first of the six Women’s World Series tournaments, which will take place in Dubai in December this year.

Training as a full time athlete has enabled us to have more time honing our rugby skills, plays and patterns. On top of this, especially given the nature of sevens, the fitness element is extremely important; therefore a lot of our time is dedicated to our conditioning to essentially make us fitter, faster and stronger. Another huge part of the week that we now have time for as a professional is the time to REST! Before playing professionally, it was a mammoth task to juggle fitness/ weights sessions, rugby training, international rugby and club rugby whilst trying to hold down a job! I was very lucky to have a very understanding boss, but I know some of the other girls were not so lucky and as an amateur athlete it is extremely difficult to balance all these activities.

Rugby is an incredible sport but like any sport, an injury is never far away and being a contact sport, sadly they are inevitable. I was disappointed to learn recently at training that I’ve picked up a shoulder injury from my club game that will require some hard graft in the treatment room to get me back playing in the next 4/6 weeks.

Even though it is just the first month of training, I already feel as though I have had the opportunity to experience a mix of emotions; from being excited to train every day to missing sessions to get back fit. While it is great to have the opportunity to not worry about balancing work, physio and rehab, it is certainly difficult to be on the sidelines watching people running around and playing rugby.

However in the world sport and especially as a professional athlete it is important to look at every event in a positive light and with injuries, comes the opportunity to make yourself more robust and work on your weaknesses; so while I am disappointed to pick up a niggle so soon, I am just viewing it as a small sidestep!

I learned the hard way last summer when I broke my ankle in an international sevens competition and ended up being out for six months. It was a difficult time as I missed a considerable amount of rugby but also struggled with work and day to day living whilst being on crutches. After a hard slog of rehab and training I managed to get myself back fitter and faster than I have ever been, leading to my most successful rugby season to date! So in the grand scheme, these 4/6 weeks should be relatively straight forward!

Whilst I believe everyone creates their own luck, I do think that people need a bit of good fortune along the way 
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