14 June 2008
When I was young and carefree I can remember not really taking much notice of my body’s wellbeing. In fact I doubt there are many 5 year olds who wake up, go through a stretch routine, take a blood and urine sample, eat a regulated diet, make sure they're hydrated all as part of the process of monitoring and taking care of your body. Tonight I decided to not go to a gig, the Foo Fighters in Wembley stadium, due to the thought that I might by some stupid chance get ill from being surrounded by 80,000 fans. Having already been out of the boat for a month, being out for any longer because of a cold would only leave more hairs on my pillow in the morning.
There was of course a long transition as I grew up between these two different levels of responsibility. From a reckless child flying over my handle bars to land on my head having enthusiastically cycled down a mountain side to becoming a paranoid sportsman having to rap up warm in summer for fear of getting a common cold from a crowd of people seems worlds apart. However, this obvious realisation that I'm not invincible or special in some way, that eludes me from ever being injured, came as a very sudden deflating blow. The school of hard knocks didn't really teach me any good lessons.
I've never really had any sort of injury that has put me out for more than a couple of days. At most a sore knee or a bad shoulder from playing cricket. It seems ironic that now after 11 years of rowing with nothing ever serious happening that my body decides enough is enough and takes me out of racing and rowing altogether 12 weeks outside the games. I say "decides" in it's full meaning, I think your body is very clever at looking out for it's own interests whilst also prioritising how much it's going to let you push it around, depending on the current stresses in your life at the time.
Prior to my injury we’d been in the full midst of selection with in the squad. The whole season is in essence a selection process too as many of your results in training go towards influencing the coaches make their final decision. However the final acts were coming to a close during our training camp in Varese, Italy, last April and by that point, looking back, it was clear that my back was on it’s last discs so to speak. Once selection had been made and I found myself in the four it was as though a massive weight had been lifted, the pressure had gone and suddenly I could relax a bit. A few weeks later my back then seized up and put me out of the boat. It’s probably no coincidence that my body saw me through the tough times but when the pressure came off it then let me know it needed some help. Better now than in 8 week time.