Being accepted for the Great North Run flicked a switch inside me. I became possessed by a fever, of sorts; a breathless insanity.
I need to train hard, to eat well. I need to show discipline and not waste this chance I’ve been given.
January came to an end and so, as per my plan, I started running again. Got out on dry roads and began the slow process of putting mileage back on my legs. That’s as far as my plan extended: simply, to run.
I knew I could build distance and stamina, and I knew how I could improve speed and strength. It was all the plan I needed.
And within three weeks, I was injured!
It was nothing to do with running. What injured me was the insanity – the sudden and fearsome enthusiasm to improve my physical condition, and the desire not to let myself down. What injured me was trying to do a workout DVD concurrently with a regular regime of running. The name of the DVD?
It’s an intense workout programme, designed to get you “in the best shape of your adult life”. Devised by a personable guy called Shaun T (though I suspect most people would be more impressed by his physical conditioning than his personality…), Insanity is centred on whole-body fitness and a comprehensive nutrition plan to help you through the 6-days-a-week training.
There is a hell of a lot of jumping involved, and my shins weren’t fond of all the extra impact going through them.
One Friday in mid-February there was just enough light remaining in the day for me to go out and do two or three miles. When I got back, I did the Insanity ‘Fit Test’. The next morning, I rose early and went to run another three miles, including some hills. Half way along my route – as far from home as I was going to get – I was hobbling in pain.
I’d hurt my shins before, with a week’s rest seeing them recover. For some insane, potentially harmful reason, I completely failed to recognise the signs again. On Sunday, I did another Insanity session; on Monday, I went for another run, up some more hills.
Yep, you guessed it: I had to hobble back home once more.
And on Tuesday, I did another Insanity session. Apparently, I was intent on learning some lessons about fitness the hard way. Finally, I recognised the pain in my legs and forced myself to rest. I knew I would get better, but boy did I want it to happen quickly.
One week turned into two. Two was in danger of becoming three. I kept telling myself things were improving and, to an extent, they were. But there was always a niggle lurking at the front of my shins, an ever-present reminder that I could easily start too soon and make things much worse.
Throughout all of this I kept writing blog posts; continued to document the creative journey I had embarked upon a matter of months previously. But just as my fitness – and enforced lack of activity – was coming to dominate my day-to-day thinking, so the blog was coming to dominate my creativity.
The posts were satisfying and, I felt, worthwhile. They carried what seemed to be a coherent message, but with the limited time available alongside the day job, they were reducing my ability to work on the larger projects for which I had laid foundations over the festive period.
Having started February with good intentions, suddenly March was imminent and something needed to change. If I carried on sitting around doing nothing, I was liable to go insane. Of course, that assumed I hadn’t gone insane already…