Ice baths and steam room gaffes
It has been a tough couple of weeks with three Championship games in 12 days, which means there is not a lot of recovery time.
You hardly get a rest so the intensity of training and the recovery time is a lot less compared to the Premier League.
But for the moment I seem to be coping really well. The Gaffer is great with me when the games come thick and fast. He knows when I need a rest from training and more to the point, so do I.
I don't like to miss games, so it's important to me that I feel good on match days. Over the years I've been lucky on the injury front and haven't missed too many games during my career.
In fact, the longest time I was injured was here at Sheffield Wednesday, when I had an operation on my shoulder at the end of last season.
It was the most frustrating time of my career! I'm not somebody who likes to be stuck in a medical room having treatment when the rest of the team are outside training. Fortunately, for me, it was only my third operation so I consider myself lucky.
To me, it doesn't matter whether I'm 17 or 35, I only want to play football. You get a buzz like nothing else when you walk out on match days. It stays with you forever.
I've played over 550 games and I can honestly say I still love that mixed feeling of nerves and excitement running through me whenever I pull on my shirt. When and if that feeling leaves me - and hopefully not in the near future - I'll know it's time to hang up my boots.
Giggs scored his 150th goal for Manchester United on Wednesday in the Champions League game against Wolfsburg
If one person inspires me to keep playing it has to be Ryan Giggs. He is a credit to his profession and a great role model to thousands (if not millions) - over 800 games for arguably the biggest club in the world and still playing at the top of his game.
Maybe he doesn't play week in, week out, but every time I see Giggsy play he still has the desire to win. That is all down to Sir Alex Ferguson and how he manages his players.
I remember Giggsy used to miss a lot of games because of hamstring injuries. When I spoke to him last he told me how he had changed what he did during a week's training and how he had recovered and if what he told me was good enough for him then it was certainly good enough me - lots of ice baths during the week and after games, not the nicest thing in the world but very effective.
Stretching is really important before matches, making sure your body is warm before games to get the best results, and cooling down after matches is something that has been introduced during the last six years.
Lactic acid builds up in your body after matches and this seems to be the best way to release it. When I was younger I never understood the importance of stretching and warming up, when all I wanted to do was get out on the pitch and play. My views have had to change over the years and I've certainly reaped the benefits of modern technology.
When I started my career at Sunderland it was great for me. I played for my hometown club and I lived just round the corner from the training ground. My Mam and Dad would drop me off at about 9am and that is when my day started; scrubbing and brushing the floors until the place was gleaming.
I had to look after two first team players (Richard Ord and Paul Bracewell, both nice fellas) I had to make sure their kit and boots were waiting for them every morning and as I didn't want to get on the wrong side of them, I did just that.
Ordy was good to me when it came to Christmas tips and Brace was the opposite. I will never forget the time he shouted me up to the first team dressing room and asked me if I wanted my Christmas tip. Obviously, I said yes. His reply was: "Never bet on horses." The whole room was laughing and I could feel myself glowing more and more. I could not get out of there quick enough. I can laugh about it now though.
I had a few different young lads look after my kit and boots when I turned pro but always made sure when Christmas came round their tip was waiting for them. This was in the early days when we played at Roker Park and changed in portable huts at training.
The kids are not allowed to do jobs like that any more, which I think is a bit of a shame really. It made me appreciate the fortunate position I found myself in once I turned pro.
Maybe the younger generation get things a little too easy these days but it just shows you how quickly the game is developing.
When I got into the first team and we were travelling to an away game on the coach I didn't dare go past the first three rows of seats, unless I had to make the tea for the older players. Now the kids jump on and sit where they like - iPods, mobile phones and laptops everywhere you look.
A couple of our younger lads were videoing themselves on the coach the other night singing Kings of Leon songs. You would have thought we had won 6-0 and they had scored a hat-trick each. One of them was Mark Beevers - how he fits his teeth on a video screen in the first place has got me baffled. They are massive. He can eat an apple through a letter box.
I saw a few managers come and go in a short space of time early on in my career - some good and some bad. Then Peter Reid came to the club and everything started to change. He had this aura about him and I could see that he was going to be great - not only for me but for Sunderland in general.
We hit the ground running as soon as he walked through the door. He brought a winning mentality with him and you could see the confidence running through the players. We won two promotions to the Premier League with the same players he walked into.
The second time we made it to the top flight we never looked back. By this time we had moved to the brand new Stadium of Light and were playing in front of 48,000 fans every week. It was amazing.
The squad had changed by then but for the better of course. We had Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips up front. How many teams would love those two playing for them right now?
Niall Quinn consoles Michael Gray after losing the 1998 Division One play-off final on penalties to Charlton
We also had great leaders like Kevin Ball and Steve Bould and wide players in Allan Johnston and Nick Summerbee, who could cross a ball as good as anybody I have seen up to this present day.
But, most importantly, we all had the same desire - and that was to win. We finished seventh two years in a row. The whole of Sunderland was buzzing at the time and all people wanted to talk about was football.
Then sadly after we had reached those heights the club wanted to go one better and reach Europe. I say sadly as it meant that the gaffer wanted to bring in new players to reach that level.
We knew the players he wanted to bring in but deals seemed to fail at the last hurdle - the likes of Ray Parlour, Trevor Sinclair and Emile Heskey to name a few.
I'm not sure if the board backed him at the time but lots of foreign players started to come through the door and little by little you could see the team spirit slipping away. I don't blame them for that, it's just the way football is now.
After the gaffer had parted company with Sunderland, Howard Wilkinson came and not long after that it was Mick McCarthy's turn. It was my 12th year at the club and I was starting to wonder if it was time for me to leave. I had a chat with Mick and he agreed to let me go on loan to Celtic.
I spoke to Martin O'Neill and he said he would love for me to go and play for him. Next thing I knew I was in my car travelling up to Glasgow. It was only a short loan spell, about four months, but I loved every minute up there.
The expectations at Celtic weren't bad either. All you had to do was win every game you played in and especially the Old Firm games.
I got to play in one and ended up on the winning side. I remember going out for a meal and a couple of drinks after the game with Shaun Maloney. We didn't spend a penny.
Martin had such a presence about him that when he was in a room talking you couldn't help but listen. You would train all week and he wouldn't say much but when it came to match days he really got you fired up.
The first thing he did was get the whole squad in the dressing room - the likes of Chris Sutton, John Hartson, Stilian Petrov and the legendary Henrik Larsson - and read out the team. Then he would put the piece of paper back in his pocket and walk out of the room.
After you knew who was playing you could start to get your kit on and run through your preparation. Then he would wait until five minutes before kick-off to come in again and give you his speech, remind you of who you were playing for and to be proud to wear the green-and-white hoops of Glasgow Celtic.
It was the way Martin got it across to you that was special. You couldn't wait to get out there and play. I suppose that's what separates the really top managers from the rest or maybe it's just a gift they have. I also got to play in the Champions League while playing up there, which was unbelievable.
Then it was Blackburn Rovers - probably the best time of my career. It felt like I had found that great team spirit again. Gary Flitcroft, Robbie Savage, Craig Short, David Thompson and Steven Reid were there, to name a few.
What a laugh we used to have. Not only the players but staff too. All the way through the club the atmosphere was great. The philosophy was to come into work with a smile on your face and leave with the same smile.
I worked under two great managers in Graeme Souness and Mark Hughes and I learned so much from both. They could both still play a bit as well when they joined in during training sessions. I played there for four years and our most successful year was when we finished sixth in the Premier League and got to the quarter-finals of the Uefa Cup.
It was great playing with the likes of Benni McCarthy, David Bentley and the maestro Tugay - what a player he was! I had two spells on loan at Leeds United when I was at Blackburn too, which I fully enjoyed. The fans were great to me. It's such a shame where they find themselves at the moment but Simon Grayson is doing a great job in getting them back to where they belong.
Wolverhampton Wanderers came knocking after that and it was a reunion with Mick McCarthy. We didn't work together for long at Sunderland before I left but what I saw was enough.
Mick is somebody who I have got a lot of time for. He is as honest as you would expect from a Yorkshireman and a very nice man. He always has time to stop for an autograph and makes sure his players do the same.
I think the average age was about 16 when I was at Wolves but he had an eye for young talent. I knocked the average age up a bit, mind you. The first year we missed out on the play-offs by one goal but last season you just knew they were going to get promoted.
I left in January - time to come on loan to Sheffield Wednesday as I wasn't playing as much as I would have liked. I eventually made the move permanent and I am enjoying every minute of it here. I really do wish Mick the best of luck this season and I'm sure they will stay in the Premier League, where it would be nice to play against him one more time.
How good would it be to have this huge club, Sheffield Wednesday, back in the Premier League. Let's not get carried away with ourselves; we have got a tough season ahead but we will be striving to finish as high as we can. The Gaffer has got us playing some great football this season and you can see the players are enjoying getting the ball on the floor and passing it around. The way football should be played.
Darren Potter's 'tache watch..........
...So it has been one more week since you have seen Darren Potter's 'tache. Well I can tell you that it's coming on fine. I don't know if it's the change of weather but it just seems to be that little bit darker. We could have a beauty on our hands by the end of the season.
Last Friday, before the Cardiff game, me and Potts stayed over in Sheffield (we live the other side of the Pennines). At about 5pm we thought we would go for a stretch in the pool then have 10 minutes in the steam room.
When we got to the reception there were five Germans who we had met at the training ground earlier. They had come over to watch us play so we had a chat with them for five minutes or so and told them where we were going. So off they went to get their swimming shorts to join us.
We didn't quite prepare ourselves for what was coming. Obviously, the steam room we use is unisex. I don't know if they forgot what country they were in but the rules are slightly different in England.
There were a couple of ladies in the steam room with me and Potts just chatting away. The next minute these five guys just bowled in stark naked and sat down as if nothing was the matter.
The look on the women's faces was priceless. I had a quiet word with one of the guys - but not getting too close in the process, only to tell them that the rules were different here and they had to keep their shorts on. We all had a laugh afterwards, including the two women, so everything was fine.
Well I hope you enjoy the blog and keep replying. Take care.