Sennybridge Wales 1997. Warm, dry and injury free.

Sat with the top half of my body in the car with my legs yet to follow I contemplated the fact that the activities of the previous day might not have been so bright. My brain was sending the necessary signals to my legs but they were refusing to respond, at least not without serious protest. I grasped each leg behind the knee and manhandled each in turn into the foot well. It dawned on me then that if I couldn’t even get behind the wheel of a car, how was I going to drive it?


I am at times, my own worst enemy. Gretta and I have started walking every morning before work. It’s much cooler than the afternoons, we have the time and we both need to lose a few pounds. It just happens that our fifty minute, 5km walk is not unlike the arduous pack test which I need to do for work.  Add 20kg in weight to carry and knock five minutes of the time and hey presto, job done. Which is the cavalier attitude I took when I slung a loaded pack onto my back on Monday morning.

‘Are you sure?’ Gretta gave me a look that said you’re not twenty anymore. ‘You should start with less weight and work up to 20 kilos.’ I ignored her because I’m a man, carrying a heavy load, with something to prove.

‘I’ve tabbed across the Brecon Beacons with twice this weight. I’ll be fine.’ I replied, conveniently overlooking the intervening twenty odd years since those halcyon days. And I was fine. We crossed the finish line bang on forty-five minutes without a drama.

The dramas started the following day. The key to a fast march, a Para once told me, was all in the hips. Throw your hips forward with each step to increase the pace. Sure, it looks gay, but who’s going to tell a Para lugging a 100lbs of kit he’s got a mince on? However, while it’s easy to imitate in the comfort of your living room while yelling at the telly ‘That’s not an Olympic sport!’, keeping it up is hard work. If you don’t train for it, you’re sure to do yourself an injury.

And sports injuries don’t come any better than the old groin strain. Unable to lift either foot off the ground more than a few inches, getting into a car was the least of my worries. Just getting dressed of a morning was a struggle. After falling to the floor with my ankles trapped in my jocks I soon learnt to do everything from the safety of a chair. Worse still, no movement was complete without some old man grunt or groan. It’s like being trapped with Monica Seles.

I avoided the summer of tennis while convalescing but did see an advert for the Ab Blaster. Maybe I should get one. When I was twenty I could have bashed out a hundred of those sit ups; easy…