Monthly Archives: December 2013

#LETJOG14… I’m in

One of my Twitter friends (I’m not actually sure we’ve met in real life), Dan has decided on a new challenge for 2014 – he’s going to run from Land’s End to John O’Groats.

Or, more to the point, he’s going to run the equivalent distance (c. 1,400kms) over the course of the year. The idea is very simple, any training runs or events are counted to the running [geddit?] total, with the idea that the total distance has been completed by 31st December 2014.

So, in my own way, I’m going to join in. I’m not going to be doing much running, but I will use the same algorithm I use for the 1,000kms challenge I’ve set myself over the last few years. Quite simply I will double any swimming distance, divide by three any cycling distance and then keep any running distance the same. To complete the challenge within the year I will need to complete an average of just under 27kms per week. That’s a lot, especially as I haven’t even managed to complete the 1,000kms challenge as yet and here I am adding an extra 400kms to that total (or an extra 7kms per week). But it’s worth a go and it will help me through the early months of the year – and then the Autumn / Winter months when I don’t have an actual event to train for.

As part of the entry I will be updating my distance every Sunday – by blogging here (although not every Sunday) and posting on Twitter using the hashtag #LETJOG14. I also need to answer the following questions:

How would you describe your current attitude/approach to running?
– I’m a terrible runner, although I like the idea of it. I have previously run two marathons (in 2004), but not done much since. Instead, I’m a swimmer now, so I’ll mainly be swimming the distance.

Do you have a running career highlight? What is it?
– Running highlights are the marathons (London and Dublin), while the swimming highlight was swimming Windermere (10.5 miles in just under 8 hours) in 2012.

Why are you taking on the #LETJOG14 challenge?
– For motivation, to “meet” others, to help me through the dark winter months (the summers are easier to train in), cos it seemed like a good idea.

How long do you hope to cover the distance in? Do you have a specific date in mind?
– If I finish by December 31st 2014 I’ll be pleased.

How do you plan to cover the distance? Are there any events you’ll be running in throughout the year?
– I’ve got four swimming events that I’ve signed up for so far, I’ll also be doing a few other “training” events:
– An indoor 10km swim in Ponds Forge in March
– A SwimTrek trip in April – we’ll be doing an average of 10km swimming per day
– A channel relay event – a team of 6 of us will be crossing the English Channel
– Windermere – I’m aiming to swim the lake again in August

– – –


I wrote this and had in drafts for a while, convincing myself to go for it. Originally I thought the distance was 1,330kms, however last night a conversation on Twitter confirmed it to be 874 miles – or as close to 1,400kms as doesn’t matter (1,398.4 to be exact).

That’s an extra 70km than I was expecting and an additional 400 more than I have already failed to achieve in a year.

So, I’ve decided to change the algorithm I use to count my distance to be fair to myself. When I first came up with the algorithm the idea was to persuade myself to do more running (and cycling) and a bit less swimming. I didn’t want to over reward the “easy” swimming miles, so I decided to only double them. However, for 2014 I need to be almost exclusively swimming, yet I think trying to swim an average of 13-14kms every week is a bit much even for me (my training plan for Jan expects me to swim c. 8-9kms per week).

If you base the algorithm on how far I can go in each discipline in a set time, then it makes sense to make a change. In 20 minutes I can swim c. 1km, run c. 3km and cycle c. 12km.

Based on that, my new algorithm is: I will treble any swimming distance, leave runs the same and quarter any cycling distance.

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Filed under Motivation, Running, Swimming

I touched France and came right back

Over the last few weeks I’ve been using the Speedo app to record my swim distances. One of the nice touches on it is that you can set yourself a challenge and then count up the laps on the way to achieving that. As I’m doing a Channel relay in the summer, I set myself the English Channel challenge and have duly swam up and down in my local pool imagining that I am in the pristine waters of the world’s busiest shipping lane.

This morning I tweeted:

“555m to go to complete my @SpeedoUK app challenge to swim the English Channel. Will knock that off (and more) this morning.”

And I did. I actually did 2,200m. So I got to the French coast and just turned round and set off again!

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Thank You

I recently did a sponsored swim in order to raise money for the RNLI. The plan was to swim the equivalent distance to the length of Windermere in the pool, during the month of October. Unfortunately I didn’t quite make it – but my sponsors still kindly donated.

Over the Xmas period I met up with the organiser of the sponsored swim and I was awarded a certificate in recognition of my efforts. However, this should really go to everyone that sponsored me.

Thank YouSo, thank you to all of you.

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Merry Xmas

Merry Xmas to you all…

… now get back to spending time with your family and stop reading blogs.

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Smashed a 400m

The last length was killing me. My legs were burning, my lungs were bursting and I was desperate for it to end. I finally touched the wall and reached for my watch to stop the timer. I was so tired that I missed it the first time, but finally managed to stop it. I took my goggles off and checked the time. 6:01…

It had been a long day. A slightly disappointing client meeting that had required a 7-hour round trip drive to get there and back. So by the evening I wasn’t sure if I was ready for the gym, or for my bed. In the end I opted for the gym.

I took my kit, my SiS sports drink and my wife’s words (“Remember, you’re meant to enjoy it”) with me and did a light set on the bike and treadmill, with an abs set between the two. Once that was over, it was time to hit the pool.

A gentle 200m warmup and then I decided that it was time to do another time trial to see how the threshold training was going and if I was getting any quicker. So I set off on a 400m set and pushed myself as hard as I could and swam as fast as I could. And boy was it hard, but would it be quick?

… 6:01 …

I was amazed. That SMASHED my previous time!

Then it slowly dawned on me that maybe that time was a bit too quick… maybe, just maybe… okay, probably… I’d only swum 350m!

I was gutted, but I rested for a bit and then did another 400m in 7:04 and a 200m in 3:28, so my training is really starting to have an impact which is really pleasing.


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Nelson Mandela’s Aquatic Election

I love it when translations go wrong – if you search around on the internet then you find loads of them. My personal favourite is when I was on holiday in Italy and the menu offered:

“Panna cotta with wood sauce” – yum!

However, I think tonight’s may go into my top two.

I was in the gym and they have a few TV screens on permanently with the sound off, so they show the subtitles. This evening I was there during the news and of course the Mandela sign language interpreter was the main story. However as part of it the subtitles claimed that:

“Nelson Mandela won South Africa’s first aquatic election following apartheid.”

(If you’re not sure, I think they mean democratic.)

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I’m Three-Quarters Across the Channel

Don’t worry, you’ve not missed my channel relay swim – not even I’m stupid enough to do it in this temperature – that’s in July. Instead I’m talking about the new Speedo app that helps you to track your swimming and lets you set challenges to complete. The current challenge I’m working on is to swim the channel – and as you can guess by the title of this post I’ve only got a quarter to go (or 10,355m).

2013-12-11 08.53.38I only downloaded the app fairly recently – in fact I’ve only recorded 13 swims using it so far – but from what I’ve seen I really like it. The visuals are clean and crisp and you can really see how you’re getting on, especially compared to your recent activity as it shows you the last five weeks in a nice graphic.

For a while I used to track my activities using Fitocracy, which gives you points for different completed workouts and then enters you into different leagues. The problems I had with that (and the reason I left and ultimately deleted the app) were:

— It didn’t learn, it was easy for me to get lots of points for swimming, but I’d get very few for running. Yet as a swimmer my running workout may well have been harder for me. It should have added an algorithm to allow it to learn.
— I found the people I was in the league with (and to be fair to the app, I had chosen them), were either non-stop athletes and so always way ahead of me, or were lapsed trainers and so usually a long way behind me.
— If not careful I would do workouts to gain points and not because it was part of my training routine. I’ve been on a purge and removed any apps that found me “playing the game” for its own sake – which is why I’m no longer on Foursquare either.

So, does the Speedo app solve these issues?

Well, it is much more of a personal tracking tool, rather than a gamified app – which I much prefer. Ultimately my workouts are personal to me. I have my own goals and I don’t need to win points to feel good about achieving them or not. However, there are still a few tweaks that I would like to suggest:

— As well as the big challenges (eg swimming the channel) allow me to set my own workout goals – for example I want to swim at least 5km per week, let me track that and challenge myself on that.
— Make it easier to “meet” people. I don’t want to be pitted against them, but the Fitocracy community did introduce me to a few people that I now follow and chat to on Twitter. This one may just be a critical mass issue for now, but some form of “chat” should be added to the app I think.
— Finally, and most importantly, within the challenges there should be a Windermere swim. It’s England’s longest lake, let people challenge themselves to swim it!

– – –

I’ve done some reviews of Speed kit (here and here), but this is not related to them. This app is free to download on the iPhone (and possibly other devices too).


Filed under Swimming

Terrible swim, great chat… Masters

On Monday I got into the pool just after 7am for my regular Monday morning swim session, but to be honest it was hard work. I was still really tired from the previous week’s work and hadn’t managed to catch up fully on my sleep. It really made me realise just how important rest is in regards to all of this training.

I plan to do mini 1km sets at a threshold pace when I’m swimming these sessions. The plan is to keep to a 1:54 / 100m pace (1 minute and 54 seconds for every 100m swum). I managed the first two 1km sets, but setting off on the third I just didn’t have the energy.

I could have pushed through it, but part of the reason for being tired was because I was busy at work – and there was still plenty to do on Monday. So instead of keeping going and wiping myself out for the day, I called it a day.

By doing so it meant I had a few extra minutes to chat to someone who is a regular lane buddy. I see her and say hello, but even after all these weeks we’ve only just got onto first name terms – I’m usually too busy swimming and then rushing to work. But on Monday I had a few extra minutes and we chatted for a bit. Naturally the talk was about swimming and our stroke (I’m a bit choppy with my left arm apparently) and during that conversation she mentioned that there was a Masters session at my pool twice a week – I didn’t know that!

So last night I went down to my first ever Masters session – in fact it was my first ever swimming “lesson” of any kind. I don’t remember being taught to swim but I presume that my dad gave me the basics and I got on with it as a nipper, I certainly was never a member of a swimming club. So I was a little bit nervous at the start of the session.

In the end the session was a swimming club session for teenagers with one lane roped off for the old folk. It doesn’t sound like much, but as there were only three of us it was plenty. We started with a warm-up as the coach watched our stroke and then gave tips.

She actually said that my stroke was quite good – which was gratifying to hear – I just have to focus on reaching a bit further and rotating a bit more. Although I’ve never had any lessons I have watched swimmers and read a few tips and hints and tried to adopt the good habits into my swimming – it seems that some have sunk in. After the initial assessment we swam few drills (I’ve never used a pull buoy before, so that was interesting) and continued to receive hints and advice from the coach.

It wasn’t a particularly intense session, although the different drills helped me work on different aspects, but I really enjoyed it and got a lot from it. I’m going again tonight 🙂

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Filming done

The other day I wrote this:

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.

– – –

I thought I should update you and let you know how it went – which was amazingly well! If you follow @Bizcrowd on Twitter then you’ll start to see some of the videos over the next few days. Videos like this one of Kate from Grow Up:

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