A lot of my day is spent making sure I get through the next one.

Three weeks into boxing training, planning is pretty much everything. The running, I can do now. The bodyweight stuff, I’m getting used to. The sparring, let’s not talk about the sparring. That’ll take a little longer. All of this will improve, slowly and in good time. But the planning, man, I’ve got locked down. My organisational perfectionism, more than my rising resting heart rate or level of discipline, is the main reason I’m still doing this.

In boxing terms, having heart is defined as being crazy or stupid or both. My alarm going off at 4:45am feels like both.

Having a plan doesn’t just make the next session easier. Planning makes it possible.

It’s a lot of work, making enough food all weekend and every evening, doing laundry in bulk, carting this enormous duffel bag around. It’s all essential: standing over the stove for hours yields results, in the form of perfect-portion 500ml glass jars filled with breakfast, lunch and everything else I might need in-between. All that laundry ensures I have outfits on tap, folded and ready to go. It all goes in the bag, well ahead of time. Water too. A lot of water.

Sweat comes from somewhere. Water keeps me alive.

Early on in my cardio sessions, my trainer from Armoury Physical Training, Alix, mentions that a drop of sweat on my forehead means I’ve lost 20 litres. This is fatal, for someone who’s leaving enough perspiration for two on the tar. This is fatal, too, for someone who’s used to drinking, on average, no water at all during the day. You know how it is. You don’t mean not to drink it, but coffee’s better, tea too. Vitamin Water, if anything. More of a kick, maybe, or just tastier, easier.

But in the end you don’t drink it because you just don’t drink it.

The first few running sessions, I cramp up so bad I can barely stand. The first HIIT session, I’m seeing stars from stitches. In the ring, all I taste is froth. Like a rabid dog, like a champing horse. Sea Point promenade mocks me with its view of the ocean, its smell of seaweed. Its famous outdoor Swimming Pool. Look at all this water. So cold and clear. Like a mirror, reflecting my failures. Look at it. Long for it, and think about what you’ve done.

On the hills behind Woodstock CBD, my hands on my knees, Alix hands me my water bottle. Says, go on. Says, you’re still not drinking enough.

As jy dom is, moet jy kak.

There’s a spring near my house, in Newlands, where water flows from the ground in great cascading beautiful waves. No surprise, it’s right next to the brewery. All day, guys are stationed around the wall with tanks, containers, bottles, trucks, all shapes, all sizes. Free water, pure water, it still exists. These days, it’s a Sunday ritual – pack the bottles, get in the car, fill ‘er up. Eleven litres gets me through the week, keeps me sweating, keeps me on my feet.

Without planning, nothing works. The arms drop, knees bend, you end up looking down, into punches, into the floor. If you don’t eat, you don’t fight. You just fall apart, in pieces, one limb at a time. Your core crumbles, your back folds and you get hit, over and over, from the side, from the front. In the ribs and head. In the chest and face. Exposed. Helpless. If you don’t drink, you don’t last. Pull-ups, push-ups, crunches, they’ll end you long before you pick up your gloves. Breathless. Pointless.

It’s a lot of work, making sure I get through the next day, the next session. Making sure I stay up, on my feet, alive. This is heart. Without water, without a plan, this is crazy or stupid or both.

It’s not a stretch of the imagination, now, to see where all this sweat comes from. Watching it pool underneath me, face down pushing up against this concrete. Feeling it saturate another T-shirt, making more laundry, dripping down my neck, like a leaky tap. It’s not a stretch of the mind, now, to see where all this water goes. Running for longer, this morning, than yesterday. Not cramping, less gasping. Less retching, staggering, battling. Upright. Moving.

Sweat springs eternal. Up from the ground, right through me, back into the ground. Its reservoir: my resolve, my planning.

A lot of my day is spent making sure I don’t run dry.

We grind to a stop, a long trail of wet sweat behind me. Alix hands me the water. Says, Yeah, chug it.

Everything comes from somewhere. Water keeps me alive.

Photo via Flickr by Leonard John Matthews