Shot to pieces
Watching top sportsmen in action is usually hugely impressive, but it can also give you a dangerously deluded notion of how easy it is to do what they've just pulled off.
Many is the club cricketer who has worn a ball on the chops after having a pop at a KP switch-hit in the nets, while anyone who's ever attempted a Tom Daley from atop a high board will have a particularly keen appreciation of just how solid a liquid like water can feel.
It's something I have time to muse on as I watch Welsh decathlete David Guest ping his 16lb shot put effortlessly into the distance, just before mine flops out of my hand and narrowly misses crushing my toes.
There is something rather obvious that strikes you when you first try the shot: it is very, very heavy indeed.
You know it's got to be pretty weighty. It's solid metal, for starters. What you don't expect is that it'll actually be hard to pick up, and take considerable effort to hold in one hand.
7.26kg. That's the equivalent of 16 bags of sugar, compressed into something the size of a softball.
You know you're meant to wedge it into your neck, your right elbow high, but gravity has other ideas. Possibly the only way you could get it to stay there comfortably would be to construct a small cantilevered shelf just above your shoulder, but the IAAF's rule book has already thought of that one.
Still, let's look on the bright side. With just six weeks to go until my one-hour decathlon, and a strained hamstring having cost me a month of training, I am at least back in action.
Running is still out; hurdling as yet a distant dream, but there is still work a man can do on a leg and a half - particularly when the community of multi-eventers comes to your rescue.
David and his coach and father, Mike, are making final preparations for the European Junior Championships in Serbia when they offer a 90-minute window down at the National Indoor Athletics Centre in Cardiff.
I'll confess to some dark nights of the soul since the hamstring went during the session with Dean Macey last month. At times, when the injury has steadfastly refused to improve and the tortuous tedium of aqua-jogging has shown no sign of relenting, I'd even started to wonder if I shouldn't just back out quietly now - admit that my body can't cope with the rigours of a decathlon, try to get myself gently back into fitness for a less demanding task, like walking barefoot across the Sahara or lending Sisyphus a hand.
David and Mike's generosity and enthusiasm came along just in time. When your mind is all self-doubt and doom, there's nothing like some heavy metal to shake the misery away.
Mike does the instruction, David the demos. Point your feet away towards the back of the throwing circle, fix the shot into the neck, bend low over your back leg, rotate the hips and explode up with your chest with a Neanderthal grunt, pushing the shot up and away. Or straight down, in my case.
There's even time for some high jump drills, flipping backwards over the bar from a box in a way that somehow leaves injuries untouched. It's heartening stuff, even if it isn't quite as impressive as this clip of Stefan Holm doing the same thing.
Proper shot putters tend to choose between the glide and the spin techniques. That anything that involves such weight can be described in such graceful terms remains a mystery to me. Two days later I try again and manage 7.75m. For a moment I'm encouraged - this was off a simple push, with no gliding, spinning or even stepping - and decide to look up the current world record, just to see how I'm getting on.
23.12m. Thank you, Randy Barnes. My effort is the rough equivalent of running 28 seconds for the 100m.
Randy B, Ulf Timmerman, Reese Hoffa, Valerie Vili - I am sorry for ever daring to think I could do what you do.
A few years ago a journalist friend of mine kept finding that his spellchecker would cause him all manner of unexpected problems when covering athletics. He would write again and again of something called the shot putt, which presumably involved men with golf clubs made of titanium attempting to knock heavy balls of metal into small holes.
At 7.75m, maybe I should switch to his technique instead. It can't go much less far.
The same journalist would also occasionally describe another field event, something that came out as the discuss.
A competition of conversing, a ding-dong of debate and deliberation? Now that's something even a man with one hamstring would fancy. Where do I sign up?