Monthly Archives: November 2013

London, Nottingham, Edinburgh businesses

I don’t often tweet work stuff, but I’m going to be busy over the next few days with an interesting and exciting project that I wanted to share. And I mainly wanted to share it because if you’re a small business in London, Nottingham or Edinburgh then it might be really valuable to you too (obviously you won’t actually be a business, but you know what I mean).

Over the next three days VisuallySocial is doing a roadshow in those three cities, filming small businesses on behalf of Bizcrowd. The idea is that the businesses will then be showcased across all of Bizcrowd’s channels (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, website etc) in the run up to Small Business Saturday, which is on the 7th December.

You can read more details (including filming locations) here.

If you’re in a small business and you’re around in those locations this week, then come along and be filmed.

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Beautiful swimming writing

I follow a few other swimmers on Twitter and I suppose I’m subconsciously looking out for people mentioning swimming, but today I saw two very separate, very different articles about swimming that I wanted to share them here.

The first is from H2Open magazine – a great publication dedicated to swimmers, that I’ve just started following. The post that caught my attention is about cold water swimming and what goes through your mind. I don’t swim in very cold water (ie at this time of year), but it all seemed to be what I think anyway. Have a read: What goes through the mind of a cold water swimmer?

The second article is in The Guardian. I didn’t realise they had a swimming blog, but they do and this is one post from it. It’s all about the freedom of swimming and the almost zen-like tranquility. It’s beautiful, read it here: Why I love swimming
Both beautiful articles.

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Review: Speedo towel

Another piece of kit included in the package that Speedo sent me is a towel.

Technically, it is a microfibre towel and Speedo describes it as “soft, super-absorbent and quick drying… lightweight, compact and easy to pack into small spaces.”

What can I say? Well… this towel is a bit weird.

You know the tiny towels that you see Tom Daley use when you watch the diving at the Olympics – the little one no bigger than a flannel – well it’s the same material as that (I’m assuming, I’ve never actually shared Tom Daley’s towel).

It’s a bit strange to use, you can’t rub yourself dry so much as wait for the towel to absorb the water and then move on – it works well and it works quickly, but you almost need to dry yourself in a different way. You have to adopt much more of a “patting dry” rather than “rubbing dry” approach. I have to admit that it has taken me some time to get used to it, and even now I’m not sure it is.

The biggest negative for me (and without getting into too much detail) is that I find it hard to dry in all the nooks and crannies. Let’s leave that there shall we?

However, it does have a lot of positives.

The microfibre towel compared to a normal one.

The microfibre towel compared to a normal one.

The size of it is definitely one. It’s a full size bath towel, but folds up to be tiny. You don’t realise how much of a difference that can make to your swimming bag until you try it. I’m not sure that the photo does it justice, but it feels less than half the size.

Another huge positive is the absorbancy of it. Use it, give it a minute  and then go back to the towel – you can’t actually see where you’ve used it – there are no obvious damp areas on the towel and it looks like it hasn’t been used at all. Although it is wet to the touch, it’s not damp and it could almost certainly dry you all over again. Not only that, but it dries very quickly too.

Having said all that, it won’t become my main towel – I struggled to find the best way to use it properly and in the end I decided I just preferred a vigorous rub down with a traditional towel. That said, if I do enter the 2swim4life event, then this towel will be perfect; or if I find I really need to save some space. Other than that though I’ll keep to the “traditional” towels for now.

You can buy the microfibre towel from Speedo here – it costs £18.

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Disclaimer:
Speedo sent me the kit for free, but did not pay me for this review. This is my honest opinion after trying the kit out.

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Review: Speedo shorts

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to be sent some kit by Speedo. They wanted me to use it and then write good things about it here*. I promised to do the former, but wasn’t going to promise the latter, let’s see.

*Obviously there was no coercion or expectation involved from Speedo.

The first things I used were the shorts. When I say shorts, they are the trunk/shorts hybrid that many people wear nowadays. Speedo actually calls them aquashorts.

Aquashorts

Aquashorts

I’m normally a board shorts kinda guy (apart from when I’m open water swimming and abiding by the BLDSA rules). But in the pool I previously wore long shorts. There were two main reasons for this: 1) I felt that the extra drag would be extra training and once I took the long, baggy shorts off I’d save maybe 1 second per 100m, which doesn’t sound like much, but can add up over 10 miles; 2) the second reason is that I didn’t think anyone should have to look at me in tight shorts if they didn’t have to!

The first time I put the aquashorts on they felt a little bit tight and I felt quite self conscious getting into the pool with something a little skimpier on.

Out of the water that feeling remained, however once I got them wet and started to swim properly they felt really good. While I’m swimming they don’t feel too tight at all, but nor do they feel too skimpy. I don’t know if they’re making any real difference to my performance, but they make me feel like a proper swimmer – even if I still don’t believe the rest of my physique can pull the look off.

Even after the first swim I was hooked. I won’t now be going back to the long shorts and will be using the aquashorts all the time now.

You can buy them from Speedo online here and they cost £21.

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Disclaimer:
Speedo sent me the kit for free, but did not pay me for this review. This is my honest opinion after trying the kit out.

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Next challenge – 10kms… indoors

I’ve signed up for my next challenge – a 10km swim indoors at the Ponds Forge pool in March.

It’s not a “race” in that we can turn up and swim our laps when we choose during the day, so it is being described as a “challenge”. For many people it will be the first time they have swum as far as 10km and so I’m sure the atmosphere will be really good on the day.

A 10km swim is considered to be the closest equivalent swimming has to a marathon. It’s certainly similar in terms of the times people will complete it in. The fastest on the day would hope to be around 2:30 I suspect; I’ll be pleased to break 4hrs; while the cut-off point is 6hrs.

I’ve not swum at Ponds Forge before – of course it is an Olympic sized pool (50m) which makes it a bit different, although fewer turns is certainly a bonus. By signing up you get access to a few training/advice sessions from the team, so I’ll try to make one of those just so that I can get used to the surroundings.

And a massive thanks to I Swim (and sometimes Tri too) for suggesting it to me via Twitter.

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Scraping the car counts as exercise… doesn’t it?

It’s that time of year isn’t it? I was a bit late for my swim this morning because I had to spend 10 minutes scraping the ice of the windscreen. Can I count that as exercise?

Brrrr

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Swimming in the Thames

I saw this recently in the Evening Standard – it’s an idea for swimming pools in the Thames in central London.

It looks amazing and it would be a great way to enjoy the river, but without having to fight with the boat traffic.

The concept is that a new sewer system will be employed soon, making the river cleaner and so better to swim in. The pool would be separate to the river in an enclosed tank, but it would fill with water from the Thames at high tide.

A while ago I wrote about an idea to create swimming lanes in London’s canals, it would be amazing if some of these ideas came off and we had much more “wild” swimming happening in London.

UPDATE

There is a Twitter account set up to promote this project – you should follow them here. You can also see much more about the project, with some original designs here.

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Kids or training?

I recently posted about life getting in the way of training sometimes (and specifically for me last weekend when I was a lone-parent for the weekend). One of the comments on that post was from Mike suggesting – and I paraphrase – that a healthy training routine is essentially to give in to those moments – fully commit to spending your time with your child and then as you set off on a rearranged training session you will feel happier and ultimately train better.

Not my family.

That all seems wonderful in theory, and I’m not criticising Mike, but it is also a little simplistic. Mainly because it assumes that the planned training session can be rearranged. What if it can’t? What if it is the training session which you feel will help keep you sane and motivated for the child-care? What is you’ve already had to move other training sessions because of outside pressures and this was the “catch-up” one? All of these things were true for me this weekend.

Of course, it’s not just child-care that can get in the way. For me work does too. And as much as I’m committed to my training goals and the events I’ve entered (or will enter), both family and work have to come first.

Not my office either.

I spent a lot some time creating training plans that are constantly moved, adjusted or just ripped up by outside factors. I’m not sure what else I can do but attend the training sessions I can and try not to get too upset by the ones I miss.

What do you do in this situation?

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Windermere 2013 – failure

I wasn’t planning to swim in the lake itself, but instead to swim the equivalent length in the pool throughout the month of October. It was a challenge set by the RNLI to raise sponsorship for its outstanding work. But I failed.

In total I managed 14.7kms – 2.3kms short of the 17km target.

I tried, but there were times when life just got in the way. I’m disappointed, of course I am, but equally it wasn’t because I couldn’t be bothered, it was because I had to prioritise and at the moment family and work come way ahead of swimming and training (although that might change slightly as I get closer to my summer challenges – the Channel and Windermere). But it’s strange to think that in a whole month I couldn’t manage a distance I plan to do in a day (or seven hours) next summer.

Anyway, if you have sponsored me and want to withdraw your offer of sponsorship I completely understand – I would say that the RNLI does amazing work and if I’d told you I was planning to do 14.7kms you probably would have sponsored me anyway. But, I didn’t keep up my end of the bargain, so no questions asked…

Having said all of that, I had a great swim this morning (3.6kms before breakfast) and hopefully I’m back into it again.

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GRRR Life!

My wife is away this weekend visiting her mother in Germany, which means I’m on my own with my son. Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with him, but it does restrict any training activities.

So I was really pleased when my parents said they’d come to visit – and I was mainly pleased because it meant I would be able to get out for a swim on Saturday lunchtime. It’s not the best session as it’s usually quite full of part-timers, but after a long week of work which meant no training since Tuesday I was looking forward to getting in the pool again.

Then my dad called yesterday. They’re not coming as he is too full of cold.

GRRR Life!

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