Fitness, food and 4-hour training sessions: A day in the life of Ireland's newest AFL star

Laura Corrigan Duryea is making waves in the inaugural ‘professional’ women’s Australian Football League.

IF YOU TOLD Ireland’s newest AFL star Laura Corrigan Duryea nine years ago that she’d be where she is today, she probably would have have laughed.

lcd Source: Laura Corrigan Duryea Instagram

Originally from Drumlane in Co. Cavan, little did she know that in 2017 she’d become part of Austalian sporting history. On Sunday, she lined out for Melbourne FC in the inaugural ‘professional’ women’s Australian Football League, wearing Jim Stynes’ legendary number 11 at that.

Unfortunately, the result didn’t go her way but otherwise, life seems to be going pretty swimmingly for the 32-year-old.

A few weeks ago, Corrigan Duryea shared her story with The42 — how a backpacking trip turned into accidental AFL stardom, her gaelic football roots and life in Melbourne.

The intensity of her training was something that stood out.

Up on four hours a session between preparation, pitch, gym and recovery. Melbourne FC meet three times a week, and meanwhile Corrigan Duryea does her own training and manages to squeeze in a bit of gaelic football while she’s at it.

She spoke in-depth about training sessions and what they consisted of:

5pm: “That’s called our preparation time. You can go and see the physio, get a massage and get anything taped that needs to be taped. We also have ‘vision’, so basically you go in and jump on some computers and all of the last training session will be on the computers. You find your name and then there’ll be clips of all the things you did throughout the session. You can have a look at things that you did which were good or bad, and then call a coach over and they can go through things with you.”

6pm: ”You meet the coaches and have a chat about what you did in the last session, what you learned, what you needed to work on, what worked well and what didn’t, and then they go through what you’re going to do in that session. They put up all of the drills and show you the men’s team doing it if they did it before.”

6.20pm: “We go outside and train for about an hour and a half, and we usually finish with conditioning — ten minutes of hard running,” she tells me. Drills, small-sided games and running, pretty standard procedure week in, week out.

8pm: “Afterwards we go inside and do weights for twenty minutes or half an hour, and then we do our recovery, which is either the ice baths or the pool.”

9pm: Dinner time.

That’s how her evening goes every Tuesday and Thursday religiously. They also train as a team on a Saturday morning, with the same routine unless it’s a match weekend. So that’s 12 hours a week, give or take.

Formerly a Cavan midfielder with two Ulster titles to her name, Corrigan Duryea’s training regime doesn’t stop there. Fitness-wise, she does most of her gym work with the team, but tries her best to get out for the odd run as well.

Modest in her ways with the type of ‘keep your head down and work hard’ attitude, she probably wouldn’t have mentioned her individual training efforts only for I had some general fitness questions for her.

One of them was to name a few songs on her workout playlist.

“We don’t have any music in the gym and when I’m running I generally just run beside the beach so I tend to just try and listen to the waves not to really focus to much. I don’t really have a playlist to be honest.

“When we’re on the football field we don’t have any music, when we’re in the gym we’re usually just doing our weights and we’re just trying to get through it to get back in. We have limited time with the team, so when we’re in there we’re run off the football field and then it’s straight into the gym and then straight into the ice baths so there’s not really much time for listening to music, it’s pretty busy.”

Focused and driven in every aspect, the Melbourne-based teacher says her daily routine is quite similar to what it would be like at home, with a few exceptions of course.

You get up in the morning, you go to work, you come home, you go to football training in the evening. It’s all pretty similar until summer comes and then obviously you’re at the beach, or you’re at a pool, or you’re at a barbecue every second day.”

In terms of nutrition, she’s as disciplined with what she eats the same way as she is with her training.

“My diet has not changed a lot, but maybe I’m more aware of what I’m eating. We’ve obviously had nutritionists at the club speak to us.

In the morning, I try and have muesli and fresh fruit, or maybe poached eggs on toast. Then for lunch, I’d have salad, or maybe some rice and tuna. And then dinner, things like stir fries or fish and vegetables, something like that.

“I’m just trying to be a bit more mindful of the things I’m eating. Going out for dinner now isn’t what it used to be. We went to this pub the other day for dinner and there was nothing on the menu that was a ‘good’ option. They always say, ‘sometimes there may be a good option, but sometimes you have to pick the best out of a bad lot as well.

“Obviously, it’s summer over here at the minute it’s quite hot, you don’t want to be eating too much hot food. It’s lots of barbecue food so like meat, veggies and salads and things like that.”

Following her AFLW debut on Sunday, Corrigan Duryea returns to the grind as she and her teammates prepare for another big day on Saturday. Melbourne FC face Collingwood in their second round clash.

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