Monthly Archives: March 2014

What I’ve Learnt

I did a long 10k swim on Sunday – it went well and I beat the time I was aiming for – but as the first “event” of the year, perhaps the most important factor was that it was a good check on how I’m getting on. And as the dust has settled on the event and I have time to think about how it went in more detail I realised that there are a few key things that I’ve learnt. So here they are:

I’m getting better – I completed the 10k swim in 3hrs 30minutes. The last time I did a 10k swim (in Bala) I did it in 4hrs 31minutes. I know you have to factor in the cold water, but still, just over an hour’s improvement is something I’m quite pleased with. The summary is that I completed the 10k swim in almost exactly 21 minutes per kilometre. To swim Windermere in under 7 hours (my target) I’ll need to swim 17k in just over 24.5 minutes – so I’m well on track for that.

Mmmm 50 metres

Mmmm 50 metres

I love 50m pools – this was only the second 50m that I’ve swum in and the first was so long ago I can’t remember it. But as I swam the first length on Sunday it felt so luxurious to just be able to swim and not worry about hitting the wall so soon. I might have to search out more 50m pools.

Drafting makes it easier – as I said in my original report, all the people in my lane were of a very similar speed, so we all spent a lot of time swimming behind each other. It’s funny how we were all able to catch up with the person in front (and then easily stay with them), but no-one was really able to get away once they were in front. Because drafting.

I can’t do turns – or at least my calves can’t. I was starting to cramp up after only 2 or 3km and it didn’t get any better. I pushed off once after just over 2 hours and my legs seized up so much that all I could do was just float in the water for about 30 seconds to let it ease. Fortunately there aren’t too many turns when swimming in lakes, but I’ll also look at adding an electrolyte drink to my feeding mix.

Leave them alone!

Leave them alone!

I hate toe-tappers – while we were all drafting a bit (see above) the other three people in my lane couldn’t seem to do that without constantly toe-tapping. It’s not difficult – just don’t swim into my feet. Once or twice by accident is fine. But having your hand halfway up my calf (or that’s what it felt like) a couple of time per length is just not on. Especially, as I said above, once they got past me (and I’d let them get ahead of me at the lane end if they did toe-tap – at least for the first few times) they didn’t pull away.

It’s great to meet blog buddies in real life – as I mentioned in the original write-up I met Mo at this event and in fact she had originally persuaded me to enter. Mo and I have chatted through blog comments and Twitter for over a year, but haven’t met before – so it was great to meet up. I’d love to meet more of you if you read this – feel free to get in touch.

It’s hard work – having said all of the above and how pleased I am with my progress I’ve been exhausted this week!

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10k swim completed

This morning I got up nice and early (6am … and on a Sunday!) to get ready and set off to Ponds Forge to take part in a 10k swim event. And despite the early start it was great fun.

We started with an 8:30am briefing pool side – we were split up into 6 different lanes, based on our expected finish times, with each lane having a maximum of 5 swimmers in (we had 4 in our lane). Following the briefing I got changed and got ready poolside – and suddenly we were off, I’d hardly had time to put my goggles on straight.

The calm befor ethe storm

The calm before the storm

The first thing that struck me was how great it was to swim in a 50m pool – my local pool is 25m and I’ve only been in a 50m pool on a couple of occasions previously. It felt great just to be able to swim, without worrying about the wall almost as soon as you’ve set off.

I was the 4th person away in our lane – we all set off with a 10-second gap – but I’d soon caught and overtook the people in front. However, that turned out to be nothing more than over excitement as we all seemed to swim at a very similar pace for the rest of the event. In fact about the only time positions changed was when someone stopped to take a drink.

My plan was to take a quick drink every 30 minutes. As much as anything else, this was a test for me to see how I need to refuel and how the breaks affect my swimming and how the fuel itself works with my body. That said, I ignored the plan for the very first stop!

I was enjoying the swimming too much and 45 minutes had elapsed before I’d even realised. I did stop then though – and every 30 minutes after that.

Then it was just a case of getting the head down and swimming. My body coped well – apart from quite severe cramps in my legs on occasions (I’m hoping that cold water and no turns will help this – but I’m also going to add an electrolyte drink to the refuelling plan).

Officially 3:30:07

Officially 3:30:07

I had hoped to finish with 3hrs 45mins, but in the end I smashed that target and finished in 3hrs 30mins 7secs (or 3:30:19 according to my watch as I forgot to stop it immediately).

A job well done.

However, on top of a great swim, it was also fantastic to see Maureen (Mo) from iSwimmer in real life too. We’ve been “blog buddies” for a while, so it was great to meet up – and with her friend Sally. Great swimming and thanks for pointing me to this event Mo.

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Big week… Done

Last Monday I said that I was planning a big week of swim training last week. The plan was to swim 20km over the course of the week – all in training for the 10km swim I have this Sunday (Sunday 23rd at Ponds Forge).

A break down of the week from my Speedo app

A break down of the week from my Speedo app

Well, I did it – 20km swum. Here is how it broke down:

– Monday – 4km
– Wednesday – 5km
– Thursday – 2.5km
– Friday – 5km
– Saturday – 1.5km
– Sunday – 2km

Monday was an evening swim. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were all morning swims before work. On both Wednesday and Friday I was in the pool by 7:05am and got out at 8:50am. Saturday was a quick lunch time swim – and then racing home to watch the second half of the England rugby match. On Sunday I did my usual evening routine of going to the gym for an hour, then a swim (I also went to the gym before Saturday’s swim).

I’m pretty tired now, but I don’t have any real aches and strains, so my body coped well with the swimming – which stands me in good stead for the 10km at the weekend.

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Big Week

This is going to be quite a big swimming week for me as I put in the last hard training before the indoor 10km swim I’ve got coming up on Sunday 23rd.

My plan for this week is to swim a combined distance of 20km – obviously over the course of a number of sessions – and I’ll then rest (or taper) the following week, with just a couple of gentle swims / gym sessions.

One of the difficulties of swimming compared to running is the fact that you need a pool to swim in (or lake in the summer) and it has to be open and free for you to use – you are much more at the whim of other people’s schedules. So one of the hardest aspects of this week will be the planning. My pool opens sporadically for lane swimming and most of the slots it has are when I’m meant to be working. Anyway, my plan is to swim Wednesday & Friday mornings (the pool is open for 2 hours) and then top-up at the weekend.

It all started last night with a c. 1hr 30min swim. I’m not going to be counting laps, but instead working on a time basis to assume my distance.

My normal casual swim pace is now at 1:55 / 100, so for these sessions I’m going to round that up to 2:05 / 100 or 21mins per 1km. That gives me the chance to nip out to the loo, stop and take a drink, get stuck behind slower swimmers, or just ease off a little if I want. Last night I managed 1hr 24mins before they closed the pool, so at that assumed pace – exactly 4km.

Bring on the rest of the week.

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Monday’s swim set

I’m going to start to write up a few of the sets that I do. There are two main reasons for this, the first is that it will act as a reminder for me if I need to devise sets again, the second is that it will provide benchmarks that I can test myself against.

Monday mornings are often quite busy in the pool as the four lanes are reduced to three as the swimming club takes up one lane. So it’s not always possible to lots of short sets (you can lose your “spot” in the lane and so are swimming into the toes of slower swimmers, or having faster swimmers do the same to you). So this week I decided to do some longer, timed sets.

– 1km, non-stop – 18 mins 30

– 1km, 5x200m – 17 mins 50

– 1km, non-stop – 19 mins 29

I enjoyed that as a session and now have a new goal to beat 19 minutes, then 18, then 19 again for the above session.

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Febathon Summary

I failed Janathon because I was ill, so I decided to try and do a solo Febathon. I may not have had the group support that Janathon so amazingly delivers, but I had my own steely determination. So how did I get on?

Actually, surprising well.

I only missed three days in the whole of the month – and they weren’t even days when life got in the way, they were just days when the steely determination waned.

The stats:

– Days of exercise – 25
– Seconds of planking – 400
– Number of press ups – 289
– Kms of swimming – 36.5
– Kms of running – 15.59
– Kms of cycling – 82.39
– Total #LETJOG14 count – 145.69kms

I have to admit, I’m pretty pleased with myself. Not only that, but I even managed to catch up on all the #LETJOG14 distance I missed in January, so after two months I’m now 2.3kms ahead of pace.

I know that I won’t let this slip in March (although I may dip a bit below February’s total) as I have a 10km swim booked in for the end of the month, so I need to keep it up until then.

However, the best thing about all of this is how I feel now. I feel stronger, fitter, faster in the pool and I have really enjoyed getting into this routine and seeing the results from it.

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