For the Cheltenham Town players, pre-season training meant grueling runs to Cleeve Hill.
Managers like John Murphy and Steve Cotterill would kick off their preparations for the new campaign with tilt work and it was always likely it would take some time before balloons were seen.
Current director Murphy can be seen in his acting days in the photo below, taken in July 1979.
Cotterill was known for his intense diets, with someone likely to always receive special attention if he had enjoyed his summer vacation a little too much.
Almost every season, a member of the team returns with an “interesting” haircut … usually in bleached blonde, with a few notable examples below.
Steve Book, Lee Howells, JJ Melligan and Scott Brown have all returned to train with new looks.
It’s also time for a new era, with Graham Allner taking the helm for the first time after Cotterill left for Stoke in 2002:
Cheltenham also adopted the old Eagle Star Sports and Social Club as their new home that summer:
In addition to using their main training ground at Swindon Village, managers at Cheltenham also introduced a change of scenery, with Bobby Gould taking his players to the racetrack on their first day in 2003:
John Ward and Martin Allen both took their players to army camps as part of their training.
Cheltenham made the short trip to Ashchurch in 2004:
Before spending time at Blandform in 2009:
Marley Watkins, Josh Low and Michael Townsend in Blandford:
Allen took part in the Sponsored Bike Ride in 2009 to raise money for his gaming budget:
During one of the most varied preseason schedules, Cheltenham also trained at the Lido during Allen’s reign:
Mark Yates included annual visits to Prince of Wales Stadium and the racecourse, where players did sprint work in front of the grandstand as well as a circuit involving endurance races around the parade ring.
Billy Jones working with a medicine ball in Prestbury Park:
Russ Penn and Mark Yates take part in pad work at the racetrack in 2013:
Players are always put to the test with the series of fitness tests, which usually ends like this:
Despite the obvious pain it entails, some players seem to be reveling in the toil of the preseason:
The preseason is a period of player education, demonstrated here by Steve Cotterill in the summer of 1999 …
And Mark Yates in 2010:
It is also an opportunity to see new faces, with for the first time summer dedications and trialists:
Tests in 2003:
Summer signatures, 2004:
New faces in 2015:
It is almost always very hot when preseason training begins …
make the race even harder:
But it’s always a chance to show who is the best rider on the team:
These days it’s more about football work, with players supposed to take care of themselves during the break at the end of the season.
The first day of the preseason last year:
Cheltenham reports for pre-season training this year on Wednesday morning and with the Cleeve Hill racing days over and the players coming back fit and ready to work, it will still be intensive preparation for Game 1 competition in August 5.