In order of time spent on each activity, here’s how I’m now keeping myself busy as I start counting down the very final days before the Outlaw Triathlon.
1. Checking the long-range weather forecast for Nottingham.
2. (On days when the forecast is bad.) Taking comfort in the fact that long-range weather forecasts are always wrong,
3. (On days when the forecast is good.) Taking absolutely no notice of point 2.
4. Avoiding sneezes. Hear a sneeze anywhere within a 100-yard radius and I hold my breath until my eyes bulge. Public places are now basically disease laboratories, and I’m washing my hands more than the average surgeon.
5. Waking up in the middle of the night. I find this is the best time to blow any slight worries wildly out of proportion.
6. Prematurely carbo-loading. What do you mean it’s too early to start stuffing my face? Shut up. And pass me that pancake.
7. Buying things. I now have so many gels in my cupboard that I am at risk of turning into Jedward.
8. Reading the race instructions. They might get slightly more terrifying with each read, but I now know them so well they could be my specialist subject on Mastermind.
9. Training, half-heartedly. To be honest, I’m finding it hard to motivate myself to swim a few more lengths or go for a short run when the biggest sporting target I’ve ever had is sitting there, days away, staring at me, tapping its foot and pointing at its watch.
10. Feeling absolutely terrified and massively, ridiculously excited. I know it’s just another event. I’m hopeful that I’ll finish and I know that if I don’t the world won’t fall off its axis. But knowing that doesn’t stop my stomach feeling like it’s on fire. Or make me feel any less sick.
Now I should probably point out that this list isn’t necessarily ideal for any fellow novices out there looking for advice. There are plenty of those sorts of lists out there, sagely recommending that you get plenty of rest, train lightly but with some high-intensity efforts, eat well and check you have everything you need for the race day.
But this list fairly represents how I’m currently spending my time. I know the more traditional advice makes much more sense, of course. And I know that the advice I heard track legend Michael Johnson give in a recent interview – not to waste your time worrying about anything beyond your control – also makes perfect sense, as well as embodying the logic, focus and self-possession for which he was famed.
And I am not famed for any of these qualities. That’s why Michael Johnson is Michael Johnson and I’m sat here, unable to concentrate and very much aware that the event I’ve been training for since the start of December is now LESS THAN A WEEK AWAY!
Deep breath. Deep breath…