Hi, my name is Finn and i'm a serial over-trainer.
I wear my HIIT-induced aches and pains like battle scars, and despite having an ongoing and often painful battle with my hip flexors, continue to train...and I am not alone.
Over-training is now a symptom of the fitness-focused world we live in - documented neatly by the rise of the #norestdays hashtag. So, it's time for us to come clean about our not so healthy habits. I'll kick off, shall I?
Until February 2015, gyms and exercise classes were things I actively avoided (if you'll pardon the pun). I found myself miserable in a new city, working in a stressful job and afraid I was becoming Bridget Jones. I took up dancing, which helped, but a lack of visible results drove me to harder training.
Fast forward a couple of months and I'd basically moved into one of London's highest-end gyms - justifying daily training on the huge membership I was paying and ignoring the warnings of my new trainer friends. I'd leaned up considerably, could run faster and lift heavier - and it was addictive. Rest days were a sign of weakness in my head...and then the injuries started, and the progress stopped.
Double session after double session yielded nothing. So, I increased training beyond my normal gym classes, signing up for free events left, right and centre. I was gathering fitfam friends at the same rate as new injuries, silently training through the pain and accepting every fitness invite that came my way. All I could think about was training, macro tracking and the feeling of failure I had for not looking like everyone else on Instagram.
The final straw? I did three obstacle course races in six weeks and my body broke. Mentally and physically, I was a mess. But I said nothing.
You see, the problem is that we are all trying to behave like athletes - despite the fact for most of us, it's not our day job. We document our experiences on social media, we meet like-minded people, and before we know it - we've been sucked into a world that whilst fun, isn't necessarily good for us if done at breakneck speed.
Giving it your all is great, until you've got nothing left to give.
Recently I've had to come to terms with the fact that if I want to continue to train, I have to give my body the respect it deserves. I must eat the proper food to fuel, and refuel, and understand rest days actually yield results - not hamper them. There is also so much more to life - we were born to enjoy the whole journey, not just to focus on the goals.
I can't promise to never overdo it again. I'll never stop being over-ambitious about my fitness levels and I will always wish for abs...but I'll now do it with rest days and enjoy the time I spend horizontal. I will not feel guilty when I go to the pub instead of a spinning class, and I will stop posting sweaty selfies on my Instagram (OK, I'll try...!). I love and in awe of my trainer friends - but I'm never going to be the fittest in our fitfam, and I'm absolutely OK with that.
We put far too much pressure on ourselves to become someone else - usually someone slim, with abs and a figure that is truly unrealistic to achieve. The freedom comes in realising we are so much more than what we see in the mirror, and that we are already badass as we are.