One of the most enraging things an athlete can experience is the sudden bout of illness or injury that requires them to take time off from training. As someone who rarely gets ill, I found it particularly infuriating two weeks ago when after listening to me cough for a solid five hours from another room, my coach gave me the dreaded order - a WHOLE week off.
It may be different for other athletes, but for me I need to feel seriously ill to understand why I should take any time off from training. It isn't a treat for me to be 'let off' from sessions - I WANT to be there more than I want to be anywhere else! And the case of a simple cough did not legitimise taking an entire 7 days off from training! The whole idea of it made my skin crawl with impatience, and I took to pacing in the front room while canoeing videos played on my laptop.
Finally, after a whole day of my 'constructive' recovery, my mother came downstairs and gave me some really good advice. 'You can't MAKE your body recover, Amber. Trying harder to get better isn't going to make it any faster. Your body needs strength to fight whatever bug it is you have, and you are only going to get that if you sit still and save it.' So with that, and a threat from the doctor of bronchitis if I didn't eventually chill out and let my blood cells do their job, I approached the rest week differently - like a long, boring training camp.
Luckily for me, the cough did subside and after almost exactly a week, left completely. Just in time too, because I arranged with a team mate to go to Nottingham to train for the weekend. Three whole days of playing on stoppers for hours at a time soothed my neurotic inner primate, and some brutal full runs sessions soon saw me sleeping solidly from putting my head on the pillow to my alarm going off again in the morning.
Amber Maslen is 25 years old, and been racing canoe slalom since she was 15. Currently on the Scottish Performance Squad.