Welcome to my adventures and experiments in creativity. Where writing is like running: sometimes I know where I'm going, and sometimes I see where the mood takes me.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Mistakes... (Part 1/3)

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…


  1. Hi Paul. Completely understand what happened to you - I was gripped by a similar 'Insanity' last year after I'd completed my first half marathon.

    A couple of days after the race I developed a pain in my knee, but tried to shrug it off and barely a week had gone by before I started running hard again, trying to get fit for a 10K. My idea of 'resting it' was to wait another couple of days, then try again. Big mistake! If I had just rested for at least a couple of weeks, properly, I'm sure I could have eased my way back in to it. Instead, it went on for a couple of months and I missed the 10K. It's just the addictive nature of running, I guess. Good luck with your training - hope you are now injury free?

    1. Hi Wayne, thanks for taking the time to comment.

      Good to hear that I'm not the only one to get caught up in the eagerness and exuberance. There's no doubt that running is addictive, and the possibilities for self-improvement are both motivating and intoxicating!

      As for whether I am now free of injury, the answer can be found in Part 2, which I've just posted... Ooh, the suspense!