MY day yesterday started with two paracetamol things, an anaesthetic drink, and three Fisherman’s Friends. That numbed my throat enough that I could have a vitamin drink from the hospital.

This week has been a struggle. I went early to hospital on Monday as I woke on Sunday with a very sore neck. It felt swollen and I couldn’t swallow without pain. Not the pain you feel in your muscles but a pain that turned food from a pleasure to a torture.

I didn’t want to eat, but I knew I had to. The only problem was that every single swallow – even something like scrambled egg - was like swallowing razor blades.As the week progressed, I was in so much pain. The battle in my mind was telling me to stay in bed and sleep, but I dragged myself onto the bike. Thankfully the doctors are prepared for this and a supply of meds takes the edge off the pain, but only the edge.

I am still dragging my body onto bike or gym even though I feel my legs can hardly spin now. Even drinking water to stay hydrated is painful but I need to get on my bike. It keeps my mind calm.


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I usually try to start the day really healthy but I spoke to the dietician and he was basically telling me to go to McDonald’s and have milkshakes and smoothies in case I start losing weight. All the things you usually aren’t meant to eat, just to get the calories in. So that is my plan for later on. Even though I’ve not been in one for about 20 years.

I’ve been thinking a lot about mental toughness recently. You know, those two voices in your head. How to ignore the one which says you can’t go on and listen to the other which says you can and nothing is going to stop you. Most normal people wouldn’t want to be hit by an 18 stone rugby player or punched by Anthony Joshua, but athletes in these sports love the physical stuff. We want to be there suffering.

I always prefer the physical suffering in the moment to the mental guilt of quitting. That’s why I always know, no matter how much pain I have I won’t quit.

It’s what we live for, we love pushing our bodies to see how far we can take them. Picture the images of Laura Muir collapsing to the track, Graham Obree or Chris Hoy pushing themselves till they pretty much pass out. Most athletes I know love this. I know I do.Physically I am not the strongest, the most powerful or gifted with high levels of endurance, but I know 100% I am mentally tough and I would never listen to the voice that says stop. It’s just pain talking.


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Life can be made easy for us. Whether it is TV controls, lifts, or Uber eats, we can literally live from our sofa. This is my battle at the moment as I am so tired and my neck hurts lots. My mind is telling me I don’t need more suffering. It’s much more pleasurable to sit on sofa.

But I also know that easy doesn’t win, it doesn’t win in the sports arena or in life. If you look for the easy way, when your met with a challenge in life, you will always look for a way around it rather than going through it.

So while my mind is begging me stop this pain this is life, not just a race. I have never stopped a session and this is not going to change now. I guess it’s about seeing radiation as opportunity and reframing the pain. Easier said than done.No one wants or chooses to be in this kind of pain cave. This is outside my comfort zone, another type of mental toughness. I don’t feel in control any more.

I saw a poor lady in hospital the other day who looked like she was close to giving up. She rushed into the toilet wrenching and I just heard her scream in pain followed by the words ‘please help me’. The look of fear on the young girl opposite will stay with me. She was like a deer in headlights.


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As the week goes on I am forcing liquids down but the idea of food is too much. Then just to top it off part of my tooth falls out! So a trip to dentist and radiology in one day.

I guess we all have bad days and good days, it’s about learning to roll with the punches. I then look right and there is an older gentleman next to me with a hole in his head where you can see what I guess is bone. It hurt me just looking at it. But he was sitting with a smile on his face.

ALEX McLeish is a friend of mine. I watched his interview on Thursday night and I loved seeing his resilience. It was all about ‘what we are going to do now?’ As an athlete, I never like seeing people getting slated. No-one sets out to lose. Things sometimes don’t click, and things can go wrong on the day. As Scotland manager, it must seem like the whole nation is watching you and judging you, but I was just reading something there about the psychology of coming back from a failure. You’ve got to block people’s opinions out and focus on your plan. You debrief after the event, like the military do. You look at what went well and what didn’t go well. It is coming back and learning from your mistakes which is important.