77 Days – 12 week training programme

an image from a ride from the intensive week - a sunny day, the road winds away into the distance

77 days to go, under 12 weeks now. I’m so busy with other work fitting around training I mostly don’t have the time to think about doing the Outlaw in July. Lots to do in the meantime so it seems a long way away. But I know I’ll soon be looking at the other end of June and beginning to feel butterflies every other thought. Probably at least once every couple of days I get them at the moment.

I was talking to my coach on the phone, a bit worried about being away for 5 of the next 8 week, and fitting in training, and how hard it was in the tough 20 hour training week I did 2 weeks ago to ride 2 hours and run 1, when the Outlaw is going to be at least 4x that. And he explained that I’ll be rested and psychologically prepared, and that we’d sit down and work out all my availability from now until July, and fit the training and taper around it, that “there are going to be a lot of people less prepared than you”. A ‘taper’ is where you bring training down, after building fitness and endurance, so that you’re really really well rested before the event. That’ll mean no training and generally staying off my feet and eating well for at least 2-3 days before the event. I’m travelling up to Nottingham 2 days early too so I can get used to the bed I’ll be sleeping in, and getting up as early as I’ll need to be up.

Prepared. I like being prepared. It’s the Crystal Palace Triathlon tomorrow – it’s less than 10 minutes from my house, and only a sprint distance, so it shouldn’t take much more than an hour and a half. Last night I wrote out my kit because I was worried I might forget my race belt – a small cheap but vital bit of kit so you can wear your race number easily/properly between disciplines. It’s not a usual bit of kit, so easy to forget. I wrote down what I thought was everything, and then proceeded to have anxiety dreams all night about not being on time or having the right gear to do the event, particularly in the dream I realised I left off ‘sports bra’ on the list. I woke up thinking that.

As if I’d go out having forgotten to put one on.

I like being prepared. Except proper prepared is really ‘having done this before’. Which I won’t have. I can’t really do anything but deal with that.

Anyway, I thought I’d share the general shape of my next few weeks with you.


Type of training week



Moderate week

Maintain fitness levels


Recovery week

Recovery from previous weeks and prepare for next big weeks


Big week

Lots of endurance work

Key sessions are 

long ride (5-6hrs), long run 2 1/2 hrs, long swim >4k


Moderate week

Less training focussing on higher intensity to help you through a busy week


Recovery week

Recovery from previous weeks and prepare for next big weeks. Also helps you with a busy period of work


Big week

Lots of endurance work

Key sessions are 

long ride (5-6hrs), long run 2 1/2 hrs, long swim >4k


Big week

Lots of endurance work

Key sessions are 

long ride (5-6hrs), long run 2 1/2 hrs, long swim >4k


Recovery week

Start of Taper. Unload fatigue from previous weeks


Moderate week

Aim to maintain fitness without adding fatigue. No more really long workouts

Max Ride = 4hrs

Max Run = 2hrs

Max swim = 4k


Moderate week

Aim to maintain fitness without adding fatigue. No more really long workouts

Max Ride = 3hrs

Max Run = 90 mins

Max swim = 3k


Race week

Minimal training. Some higher intensity but only to maintain top end.

Key goal is to remove remaining fatigue and mentally prepare for the event

102 Days – Ramp test

crystal palace pool

Today I did a ‘ramp test’ as part of my regular training. Coach Simon just got back from completing the Marathon Des Sables, and set me this to do today. These are his instructions, and my results. Note that I didn’t ask a friend to time me (I kind of thought that would be super annoying to most friends, who are all at work anyway), but I used my Garmin – which is able to count strokes for me, and time if I hit the ‘interval’ button at the end and beginning of every ramp test length. So there will be a couple where I fumbled a bit, but this is probably roughly right. The Garmin 910xt counts 1 stroke for both your arms, so I doubled them to the normal stroke count which is one per arm.

Below are the instructions I was given, and the results. FYI a tempo trainer is a little yellow thing you put under your hat you can set to beep on different settings – strokes per minute, time per lap etc., allowing you to set pace. One of the features of the device is ‘now comes with changeable battery’. That made me laugh.

50m Stroke Rate Ramp Test

“The Stroke Rate Ramp Test is a series of 50m swims with a short break in between. The stroke rate during each 50m is controlled by the Tempo Trainer and gradually increases. Take whatever rest is necessary between the 50m swims to change the stroke rate on the Tempo Trainer.”

“If you have been using your Tempo Trainer regularly you will be aware of your strokes per minute for steady paced swimming. Start the ramp test about ten strokes per minute below this natural rate and increase it by three strokes per minute for each 50m swim. You can keep going as high as you like but normally 15-25 beats above your natural rate is enough to experience your full stroke spectrum.

“Ask a friend or colleague to time each 50m with a stopwatch, count your strokes taken (counting both arms) and record how that stroke rate felt to you in terms of effort. It’s a good idea to use a scale of 1 to 10 to record your effort level where 1 is no effort at all and 10 is eyeballs out!”

Stroke Rate

Set by Tempo Trainer

Strokes per length 50m Time RPE (1-10) Comments
50 42 53.4 3/10 Had to concentrate to go this steady
53 44 53.8 4/10
56 46 54.8 5/10
59 46 51.8 6/10
62 48 51.0 7/10 This felt like hard work but ok
65 50 50.4 7/10
68 48 47.6 8/10 This felt surprisingly fast
71 48 46.5 8/10
74 50 46.6 8/10 Began to lose the rhythm
77 52 46.7 9/10 I could do it for 25m but not the full 50
80 50 44.8 9/10 I could do it for 25m but not the full 50

“To keep the test as unbiased as possible don’t try and assess the results or analyse things as you go along. Simply perform the set of 50m swims at the given stroke rate and record how each felt.”





122 Days – The Storied Self


As part of the research for this project I was lucky to have the chance to work with 3 academics at Northumbria University – two sport scientists and a sports psychologist by the name of Dr Sarah Partington.

I asked her a series of questions about the psychology of endurance sport and her area of study, I was particularly interested in the limiting factor of psychology; how studies have shown that it is our psychological and neural processes that limit us much more than our cardio-vascular ones in endurance settings. I highly recommend listening to this Radiolab episode which set me along this thought path. The episode highlights the ‘central governor theory’ – that we have a fail-safe in our brain that can force the body to stop exerting itself, but that does so well before we have actually entered dangerous levels of exertion – that we can push ourselves much further than we think. Do listen to the episode if you have a moment.

This led me to investigate the performance modifying capability of the brain further. I discovered discussion around other ‘centrally acting performance modifiers’ beyond the combination of physiological factors; nutrition and hydration, training and genetics. This diagram here describes several of the types of psychological and circumstantial factors than can affect our physiological performance.

From “Fatigue is a Brain-Derived Emotion that Regulates the Exercise Behavior to Ensure the Protection of Whole Body Homeostasis” published in in Frontiers in Physiology 2012; 3: 82. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3323922/

And so I asked Dr Sarah Partington about the psychology of endurance sport – specifically how – and why – we carry on, psychologically speaking, how how we think, affects us.

Sarah explained that the central governor theory etc., was more linked to physiological studies, but that she could certainly answer from the point of view of her own specialism – the Storied Self. She explained that this was a theory amongst a context of complex behaviours and environments – it was a strong theory, but (ever the academic) wanted to stress it was one among many approaches to the psychology of sport.

She explained that we are creatures of narrative – that as self-aware animals we build our sense of self through storytelling – we communicate our sense of self through stories. We need our story of self to be ratified socially, and we build our identity out of the stories we tell of our past within our social contexts. For an example in sport, you can look to a paper she co-wrote called “Mid-life nuances and negotiations: narrative maps and the social construction of mid-life in sport and physical activity” (2005) and consider the storied self of mid-life athletes:

“The findings revealed a master narrative for mid-life in sport, which is that ‘age is a state of mind’. In addition two further narratives were apparent. One, ‘life begins at forty’ was a counter-narrative, which depicted mid-life as a time of rejuvenation and an opportunity to revisit the experiences of youth. The other was an antithesis narrative, which focused upon acceptance of the ageing process and the notion of ‘growing old gracefully’. Sportsmen and women linked their own stories to these idealised narrative types, but via a process of narrative slippage, created their own personal narratives of sporting mid-life.”
http://www.researchgate.net/publication/248975365 [accessed Mar 24, 2015].”

The day to day grind of training is part of building a narrative of self-who-does-sport. All well and good, but what about in the context of extreme feats of endurance?

I sent Sarah a video, before I spoke to her – it was one I found following that Radiolab episode. Two women, competing for fourth places at the 1997 Ironman world championship.

I asked her “what makes us do that, though? What makes someone put themselves through that, when their body is so clearly screaming ‘stop’.”

Sarah explained to me that when we set goals for ourself, we add to our story. We build them into our storied self. Stories extend into the future as well as build from the past. It might be that you need to be part of that Ironman ‘club’, it might be that you always finish, no matter what. It might be that you do the things you set out to do – these are stories about yourself that are integral to your identity, they build it.

Sarah said to me that not completing those goals – failing to complete your story – it can “shatter your identity”. She used those exact words a few times.


“Self-determination experts would talk about a sense of autonomy and agency and purpose: engaging in something that you have chosen to do for a purpose that is important to you. The other part of that theory would be about connectedness, maybe connected to a broader you know, social network outside of you or something bigger so I guess for you it would be about feeling like part of that Ironman fraternity […] there’s a social group and a social identity beyond your personal identity. This sort of self-actualisation, it’s very reinforcing. [But] it may backfire. You keep pushing and keep pushing and keep pushing and it becomes very difficult and if you’ve set your heart on these particular goals and that is part of you identity to then not complete the goal could actually shatter your identity. […] It may become autotelic it may have some elements of self-determination in there and it may be linked to an identity and if you aren’t able to maintain this goal or this competence that drives you, it’s really like your identity is going to be shattered. It becomes so important that you can’t fail, you have to keep going no matter what.”

This combines the theory of the stories self with ‘flow’ – which Sarah has also researched (in big wave surfers particularly [2009]). This is a theory of intrinsic pleasure and motivation (that you also hear about in game design, interestingly). Sarah explained that flow, autotelic, intrinsic motivation were all terms used sometimes interchangeably and sometimes to mean distinct things, but that generally all refer to the kind of activity that is its own reward.

“It’s really just when the activity becomes reinforcing in and of itself. So there’s no sort of external reward or anything that is triggering you to do that activity, it’s just the sheer activity itself that […] the easiest term for it to be would be to say that it’s an activity that is reinforcing in and of itself generally hough the joy, the pleasure and enjoyment that it brings from just actually doing the activity without having any external rewards associated with it”

It’s the pleasure of mastery you experience of progressing through levels in a video game, it’s the pleasure of improvement as you feel certain speeds or correct techniques become easier, it’s the feeling of crossing a finish line, or a personal best, or a great run in Spelunky. Intrinsic motivation, Sarah explained, can get you so engaged in activity you can lose awareness of self and environment.

Hannah_Nicklin___hannahnicklin__•_Instagram_photos_and_videos-2 3

Finally, we talked about psychological techniques for endurance sport – visualisation was heavily favoured by sport psychologists (it’s a form of telling yourself the story often enough that it becomes a more possible future), and also the difference between elite and amateur athlete’s thoughts when they compete: associative vs dissociative behaviours. Where amateur athletes will tend towards dissociative behaviours – distracting themselves from the pain, listening to music, thinking about other things, external motivations, elite athletes will tend to concentrate their thoughts around performance, associative behaviours – they will understand their pain, concentrate on their technique, pace, previous experience, hitting certain goals and distances within the larger race.

This made me think about the feeling of doing the Cotswold 113 last year. The middle distance ‘half ironman’. I did it in a much quicker time that I expected. And I remember… I remember really enjoying it. I remember the feeling of everything just settling, of just being wholly in the moment and concentrating on the very next, thinking about my pedalling, pushing a little harder, holding back so I had enough for the run, counting the laps, watching the distance markers.

hannahnicklin_on_Instagram 2

In 122 days when I do the Outlaw, I will not (by British Triathlon guidelines) be allowed to wear headphones. Every triathlon I do is done in only in the company of my own thoughts. Just me, and myself, for 12-16 hours.

There is not another point in my life where I am every quiet with myself like that. Not ever for that amount of time. Not in our world, with the way I live. Never.

All I can hope is that I will be kind to myself.

Before this project, before looking at videos like the one above,  it never occurred to me that I might not finish. It never occurred to me that I might fail. It is a plausible outcome, one I now need to consider because I’m making a show about it – I need to think about all the narrative possibilities. And yet, it just doesn’t come into my head.

I see myself cross the line, and I see my mother there, at the end, like she always is, red cheeked with pride. I see her arms wide, and the feel of the carpet under my feet. I do not crawl across it. Though I suspect if I had to, I would.

I hear her tell me “well done”.



134 days – Nutrition

a picture of an empty plate

I was in Leeds today working with Simon on the details – strength and conditioning (more on that next) and nutrition. Nutrition can make a huge difference to your performance, and importantly, your recovery. Turns out training is as much about rest as it is about work. “And proper rest too, that means sleep, sleeping lots, and cutting out stress on rest days too”.

Phil Hayes at Northumbria University said this to me when I spoke to him about why we train:

“So there’s a really good quote from a guy called David Costill who was an exercise physiologist who was probably the most prominent person through the 1980s. And he did lots of stuff on running and then got into swimming in his later career. And he said ‘The purpose of training is to stimulate growth, growth only occurs with periods of rest and recovery’ …which I really like because it tells you everything about training you have to work hard to get the body to adapt and grow and you also need to have periods where you rest and recover to allow those changes to take place because…if you just work hard all the time eventually everything breaks down. So I like his quote because it gives you all of what the process is. We train to grow and adapt, and the things that grow and adapt are the structures in the body, so within the muscles, the muscle structures change, within the heart the heart structure changes, the blood vessel structure changes, and because of those structural changes we then get a change in the way our body functions”

Work, and recover, fuel and rebuild.

Food is fuel.

It’s also a bunch of other things; it’s a gift, it’s a comfort, it’s family and friends and loved ones, it’s an enemy, it’s a friend, it’s sinful, it’s beautiful, it’s ethical, it’s bad for the environment, it’s harmful, it’s good, it’s bad, it’s super, it’s….

It’s really hard to take control of. The right kind of control. The light touch life-long control. There are times when I’ve been too controlling of food. There are times when I’ve not and that was good for me in some ways but in others I’ve felt like I’ve been wearing a costume of myself for a body. There are allergies and intolerances and ethical choices I have made that means I’m vegetarian, I can’t have milk or cream, and I can’t eat peppers. There are unpredictable things to my lifestyle which mean I often have to eat on the run, or I’m cooking for friends and it’s one of my favourite things to do, to show love in that way.

I can’t separate food from these things. But I do need to find a balance of them.

So today I asked Simon about nutrition. And he explained that it was simple: “the difference between healthy eating and performance eating is just really when you eat, timing intake to training. He has a set of guidelines – not rules – which includes no calorie restriction, no ‘bad’ foods.

Roughly, this is what he recommended

  • Eat every 2-4 hours, around 5 meals a day.
  • Have complete lean protein in every meal (plant based protein is fine!). If you’re training hard you want 1.4-2g of protein for every kg of your body weight. If you weigh 70kg, that’s 100-140g per day.
  • Have veg with every meal. Eat 4:1 veg to fruit throughout the day.
  • Eat healthy fats daily. Eat non-veg simple carbs only after training.
  • Drink water, black coffee, peppermint tea.

and planplan plan plan plan.  Set time aside for it

  1. keep a food diary.
  2. take your measurements
  3. make a weekly food plan
  4. write your shopping list
  5. go shopping, and stick to the list
  6. prepare the food so it will fit into your life
  7. stick to the plan
  8. mark a X on meals you hit O on meals you miss and ? on meals that aren’t to plan. Work out your weekly adherence.
  9. reward yourself with 10% do-what-you-like meals for 90% lean eating
  10. track how your measurements change.

Now I’m not overweight. But I’ve been lighter. Moving to London 2 years ago stripped my lifestyle of a bunch of time and stability which killed my ability to plan and stick to plan. I want to lose weight. Which is a tough thing for a feminist to say – but it’s not about looking, you see. It’s not about being a thing looked at, it’s about building a body for doing. And if you are leaner, you are faster, you have less weight to drag up a hill, or lift off the ground with every running stroke. Power to weight ratio. I want to be faster. I want to be powerful.

So. Here goes. Here’s my plan for next week. Links go to my food blog, in case you’re interested!

Meal 1
Meal 2
Meal 3
Meal 4
Meal 5
eggs on toast
carrot soup and wholemeal bread
carrot and hummus
falafel or hummus wrap
mushroom cheese omelette with beans
granola + yoghurt
falafel or hummus wrap
carrot and hummus
Moroccan chickpeas with quinoa and avocado
porridge with berries yoghurt and seeds
avocado and tomato
carrot soup and wholemeal bread
apple and orange
courgette quinoa
porridge with berries yoghurt and seeds
avocado and tomato
carrot soup and wholemeal bread
hazelnut quinoa
mushroom cheese omelette with beans
granola + yoghurt
falafel or hummus wrap
courgette quinoa
mushroom cheese omelette with beans
granola + yoghurt
Sweet potato and halloumi falafel with salad
carrot and hummus
10% meal
porridge with berries yoghurt and seeds
Apple and orange
10% Meal
hazelnut quinoa


134 days – Faith

a print out of some strength and conditioning exercises and materials

“Training is about faith”

Simon said to me, sitting across a falafel salad in Horsforth.

He had just described to me the ultra run across the Sahara Desert that him and his partner Fiona were doing in 3 week’s time, laden with all of their food, water, and camping gear. It’s a race of between 150 and 156 miles, over 6 days.

I had just asked “do you think I’ll be ready in time?” And that’s when he told me that he had 3 weeks to go until the Marathon de Sables. “If you put a gun to my head tomorrow, I could do it” he said “but there are still bits, still bits of training to do, it’s not complete”.

Simon is a fan of metaphors, he’ll use one and then he’ll explain it. I think it’s a useful way to talk as a coach, because if he talks about the thing visually, and then about why the visual works, mostly what he’s doing is taking time to find the way the idea fits into your head. This time it’s cake.

“It’s like a cake, it’s not ready yet, it’s not done, it doesn’t have the candles, I haven’t iced it, sure it looks like a cake, it’s baked, it’s got the two bits and the filling, but there’s none of the bits that makes it complete.”

Training is like a cake, he tells me – later on when he’s telling me to have a rest day because of my cold, it’s a brick wall (one missed session, one missed brick, it’s ok, it’ll hold) – “if I put a gun to your head tomorrow, you could do it, you could do the Outlaw”.

I tell him it just had never entered my head that I wouldn’t be able to before now

“What changed?”

“Honestly”, I tell him, “I think it was deciding to make a piece of theatre about it. Before now I didn’t have to think about how to tell the story if I – if I failed”.

He echoes a sentiment I tell myself – that it’s about the journey, that’s the story I’m telling, “and that’s what training is, it’s the journey”

Some days I feel like I could do the race tomorrow. Some days I feel like I could at least get to the end of the ride. Some days I feel like the prospect of it is sat on my chest like my little brother did when we fought when we were little except that it’s now and it’s my 28 year old little brother who is 6’7” and can benchpress a whole lotta kg.

Simon tells me it’s about faith. Training is about faith – I might do all of the distance for the Outlaw separately, before attempting it – maybe not the marathon, but certainly the bike and the run, but I won’t put them together before. I won’t know that I can do it, not for certain. It would be foolish to try – training is not about doing the thing but preparing the thing – if I were to try before I could injure myself, exhaust myself leaving myself without enough time to recover and train, I would be trying to do the thing before I was ready; light the candles with only batter to stick them in.

Simon explains how there’s not really any way to train for the Sahara run, not really. That it’s about training and strength and conditioning. It’s about faith. And it’s about being strong, in your mind.

“I think I’m very strong”. I say this, and it feels… I’m used to apologising for that kind of sentiment. It’s a bald thing to say, like an invitation for the world to try and knock me down.

He says that like in real life there are bad days and good days, when I do the Outlaw, there will be moments when it feels like the best thing, and moments when it feels like the worst.

You know I still don’t believe that I might not do it. Some days I don’t know what to do with being that kind of person.

I scrat around for a piece of paper and a pen. I want to write down ‘training is about faith’. “It’s OK,” Simon says, “you’ll remember it”.

137 Days – Training update

Training Peaks Simon Ward

Argh life is hard to fit together at the moment. I have a bunch of things to write up – about the science I learnt in Newcastle, the feedback from the showings, the physio assessment I had last week. I’ll get up to speed soon. In the meantime, this is why I’m struggling to fit things in. The image on this post is my training for this week. SPORT. This week’s training looks like this, it’s in Training Peaks, a system which my coach updates every 3 weeks when I let him know where I am and how much I’m available/what I can access (am I away and therefore without a bike, e.g.). A slight step up every week so far. I’m really really enjoying having drills and intervals set for me. You should see how silly I look in the park doing running drills though. More on the drills in a later blog post.

I’ve got a day with Simon Ward (my coach! That’s still exciting to say) on Friday where he’s going to fit my new bike to me, teach me about aerobars, and go over some technique on the bike and in running. Then on the Saturday a chance to get in the pool with his Masters session, which is both exciting and terrifying. Exciting and terrifying are, I’ve always found, very similar feelings. I often try and re-configure terrifying into excitement. Sometimes it works. Sometimes.


172 Days – Yesterday I Crashed My Bike

cycling along the Tyne hannah nicklin ironman

172 days until the event. My coach Simon is travelling to run a training camp in Lanzarote right now, and he’s writing me a training plan on the flight over. And I’m in day two of the 10 days at Northern Stage (for Title Pending 2014) for the first bit of research, making the show. Over these days I’ll be spending 5 days with Alex Kelly as dramaturg/designer generating stuff to go in the show, I’ll have 3 days with sport scientists at the University of Northumbria, spend a day with filmmaker Niall Coffey working out how we’re going to work together, and do two work in progress showings at the end of next week. Phew! (Plus also I’ll be swimming, running or cycling every day).

Here’s a bit of writing I did today.

Yesterday I crashed my bike.

I crashed my bike into a shrub.

Yesterday I got up at 7am and went out for what should have been a short 50km ride – 2 hours. I was late heading out because I was tired and because I was scared. Like it’s genuinely quite scary cycling on roads you have no clue about around rush hour – all of these roads seem to be huge 3 lane carriageways or bridges or roundabouts. London has its share of those too, but I learned London in bits, Newcastle/Gateshead was a bigger challenge, attempted in one go. The night before, I decided to take a cycle path out along the Tyne – it’s on all the maps – planned a route with my Garmin. Yesterday I attempted it. It takes me a while to get to that point – actually riding out – because I am tired and scared quite often on my bike.

I crashed my bike on the way back.

I managed all of the difficult bits, had gone up a slightly challenging climb near a place called Wylam

I’m calming down, back on the cycle path, know where I am, no cars around, nearly back.

The thing about these cycle paths is that (like all British cycle paths) they put in some really stupid bits; a lamppost directly in the middle of it, that kind of thing. This is why usually I don’t use cycle paths, just deal with roads, but I’m too scared of around here, so I’m on Hadrian’s Cycle Route 72. The stupid thing Hadrian’s Cycle Route 72 likes to do is right angles. Right angles next to a big old river. The Tyne, in fact.

It was a cold day yesterday – I think the coldest weather I’ve ridden in, colder than the snow in Lincolnshire over Christmas, I think maybe I didn’t quite notice how cold because scared was all I had room for. Cold enough that the gutters were frozen solid even a few hours after sunrise. Cold enough that some kind of coffee or tea dropped on the cycle path in-between me passing by on my way out, and coming back, had frozen solid. At the bottom of a small hill, just before a right angle turn, right in front of the river.

In that moment I’m not scared. I’m just dealing with it.

I know I can’t brake, I know that if I hold my front brake I won’t stop in time and I’ll go head first into the Tyne. I know that if I hold my front and back brake my rear wheel will likely slip from under me and I’ll shoot right, under the – it now occurs to me – frankly insubstantial railings and into the river. So I steer into a plant border and pitch, left side of my body first, into some squat hibernating shrubs.

The shrubs are short and sharp and 10 minutes later I’ll think of the Casualty episode where the tree goes through his neck and I’ll rub where a branch dug into mine. The shrubs did fine. I guess I’m thankful for them, they helped me out, but also they were sharp and stabby and as I unclip my still clipped in left foot in order to get up and pick my bike up I feel their imprint on my left hand and throat.

30 minutes later I’m home and I think I’m fine.

I text my boyfriend, apologise that I forgot about his job interview (forgot to say ‘good luck’ before he left, I’m terrible). Mention the crash hoping a little bit it will demonstrate my state of mind.

Shower, get ready to leave, and my left upper arm is beginning to feel sore.

It’s 2 hours later, I’m getting off the Metro, and the soreness is sort of concentrating. I hadn’t even noticed impact on my arm there, but it feels like I’ve been stabbed, bluntly, deeply, in my bicep.

It’s 3 hours after impact and I have been buying materials for making the show. Post its, big pieces of paper, scissors, tape, blu tac, and a track pump with a gauge because I forgot to pack one. If you look at me in Argos you will see me anxiously kneading my arm, it is uncomfortable to hold a carrier bag for very long.

It’s 5 hours after impact and I’m in Stage 2 at Northern Stage with Alex, who has hurt his back, and I joke that between us we make one person useful enough to get his suitcase and my bags home, because I can’t hold anything in my left hand without it giving out.

There’s a timeline when you get injured. Slightly different between a crash type injury and a strain, but in both cases, in the same way, the injury grows inside you.

Injuries blossom, they bloom inside you.

Last year I tore my right hamstring (it was a minor, level 3 tear) trying to beat my ex boyfriend’s time over a hill in South London. He’d unfollowed me on Strava by that point – I wasn’t doing it so he would see, it was more a thing for me, a way to climb out of the stuff that I was feeling. I equalled his time. I hurt my leg.

After that ride around Richmond Park I travelled to Sheffield and back for a meeting. It was only really by the time I was on the train to Sheffield that my muscles started to feel tight. It was only really on the bus back from St. Pancras 12 hours later that it began to hurt.

Injuries grow, they bloom in your body, and it’s after the first sleep that you know the measure of them.

Today, I woke up and moved my arm, and it was sore all over, but not to a point. It’s that point, that acuteness, the sharpness is how you know. Instead it was duller, I was all over sleepy relief and the second part of the crash-type injury – the ripple of the impact as it moves through your body. It takes a couple of days; fans out. As I type this my whole upper body aches, like it might before you get a cold, radiating from my left side through to my right. But it’s not that sharp hurt, it’s a shadow.

At the time I am writing this I have 3 recovering major injuries, 2 historical critical injuries, and one set of very recent ones.

Yesterday I crashed my bike.