Monthly Archives: November 2014

Illness and injury

I was supposed to be running a 10k run today, but I’ve picked up an injury. I’ve knackered my leg.

Since the end of the swimming season I’ve done a couple of sprint triathlons – which included a 5k at the end of each – and I’ve also been training up for the 10k. It would seem that my cardiovascular fitness was fine to get me through that, but because I haven’t run for ages my biomechanics just weren’t there. I’m very flat-footed and so that means that my calf muscles need to work overtime to provide extra support to compensate for that. Because I just launched into 5ks and beyond it strained those muscles and ligaments too much.

At the moment, I’ve been told that I need to wear soft heels as much as possible – so no slippers around the house, instead I’m wearing my running shoes. As I’m not wearing them to run in at the moment, that’s fine.

And on a side note, fortunately Andrew was able to take my place on today’s run and acquitted himself excellently.

While I’ve been feeling sorry for myself that I can’t run for a while, I’ve been consoling myself that at least I can still swim – or I could. I’ve picked up an ear infection and I now need to stay out of the pool for a week.

I had an ear infection before and it was very possibly the most painful thing I’ve gone through. For about three days I lived in a cycle of:
– Take the strongest painkillers I could
– Snooze for a couple of hours as they took effect
– Wake up and watch West Wing to distract me as the painkillers wore off
– Repeat

Fortunately this infection isn’t anywhere near as bad. But I’m feeling a bit sorry for myself and the no swimming feels pretty painful šŸ˜¦



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Psychological Strategy

I was asked this morning on Twitter by a friend of mine, “What psychological strategy do you use when it gets tough on a long swim?”

I was going to reply on Twitter, but I realised that it probably needed more than just a tweet, it needed more than 140 characters. So here goes…

Team Bear Logo I’ve recently joined a virtual team called Team Bear. One of the main reasons that it appealed to me is the motto they have, which is “Suffer but NEVER surrender.” And that is one of the things that gets me through. I’ve never yet had a DNF (did not finish) for all the swims I’ve done and I want to do all I can to make sure I don’t have one.

It’s the old question of, how would you feel the minute after you’ve stopped? If you can honestly say that it was the best decision (and in swimming that can be about health reasons, especially hypothermia) to stop then do so. But if once you’ve retired you realise that maybe you could have just carried on, then you’ll regret it – if I’m struggling I do that analysis… and then carry on.

Another thing I’ve learnt through experience is that I need to play to my own strengths. And although it’s tough in open water swimming I’m a talker, so that’s what I need to do even while swimming. I’m someone that likes to downplay the effort involved, downplay the hardship and make jokes / comments about the trivialities. One of the reasons that I didn’t do as well this year in Windermere was that I was trying to be too focused and that’s just not me.

One thing that did help massively during Windermere was when I took a break and started swimming breaststroke for a couple of minutes. My boat crew leaned over to see if I was ok. I shook my head and explained that I was finding it hard. “Of course it’s bloody hard,” was the incredibly caring and considerate reply. And actually that helped enormously as I realised that that was all it was – a bit of hard work. It wasn’t any more serious than that, it just required me to dig in. Well I could do that, so I did.

Mmmm carb loading before the Channel Relay

Mmmm carb loading before the Channel Relay

Finally, one of the biggest ways to stop yourself struggling in the first place is to feed well. If you don’t, then energy levels drop and if energy levels drop then you can feel the cold more and all of that affects your ‘head’. Just imagine starting the day without your normal cup of tea or coffee, then go to the worst work meeting you can imagine, now think what kind of mood you’ll be in. That’s what it feels like if you’re swimming without proper nutrition. If you can crack that, then most of the psychological battles become minor skirmishes. If you don’t crack the nutrition, then they become full-on wars which you may lose.

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Filed under Motivation, Swimming

Two different swims

Last night I went to see Ray at SwimCanaryWharf again. The summary – some big improvements, but still plenty of work to do.

This morning I went to swim here:

London Aquatic Centre

London Aquatic Centre

It was great to treat myself to a 50m pool and just swim without all those nasty drills that Ray gives me to do!!

I’ll try to get a full review of my experience at the Aquatic centre later, but you could read Simon’s from H2Open in the meantime if you like.

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A great haul

The open water season is over – or at least it is for me, I don’t swim in lakes and seas when it gets proper cold. So it’s time to look back on the season and see how it’s gone and what I’ve achieved.

I could write a lot of words about this – but I think this photo is a great summary.

The season's haul

From the back, left to right we have:

– Windermere certificate and swim hat – a tough, tough swim for me, but still another 10.5 miles under my belt and I can start to see it as more of a learning experience now.

– Colwick Park certificate and swim hat – the first event of the season and I can’t say I enjoyed the swim (probably due to poor nutrition), but it was a lovely and local day for me.

– Coniston certificate and swim hat – I always like Coniston, it’s just a beautiful swim.

Wykeham Lakes certificate (x2) and swim hat – a 5km swim, followed a little later by a 1km swim, hence the two certificates.

– SwimTrek hat – provided as part of the Long Distance Training course I did with them in April in Mallorca. A great, GREAT trip and I met some amazing swimmers.

– 100% swimming hat – provided by Paul of 100% swimming as we sat and chatted one day at Activities Away.

– French pebble – probably my most treasured swimming possession. A memento of the channel relay I did in July and although I didn’t collect the pebble myself, I will do one day.

Not a bad season all told.


Filed under Swimming

This may be foolish…

… but here goes.

After a quick Twitter mention of this tweet ( by a friend of mine I drafted this.

I’m a little conflicted by all the Ched Evans stuff.

In no way do I support him, or what he did.

But he’s done his time according to the legal system and in theory should be allowed to work again. I’m not sure if a lot of this is down to the fact that his work is getting incredibly well paid for kicking a pig skin around – if he worked in a shop or a factory would we care as much?

That’s not to say that the legal system might not need changing and that his sentence may well not have been long enough. Nor is to say that, from what I’ve read, he’s not a nice person and I wouldn’t want to work next to him (nor have him represent the team I support). But if we stopped all the ‘not nice’ people playing football we’d only have enough professional players left to fill one team.
Btw – I’m very open to discussing this further and modifying my opinion…
*Dons tin hat and prepares for the brickbats*


Filed under Thoughts

Is iMessage Broken on iOS8?

I waited to upgrade to iOS8 on purpose. I wanted to give it a few weeks for the kinks to be ironed out. It seems I didn’t wait enough.

I upgraded at the end of last week and then over the weekend tried to send a few messages. It at least I thought I’d sent them.

I wrote them, hit send, but nothing. They clearly didn’t arrive, but looking back at my messages they weren’t there either. They had just disappeared.

Fortunately it was nothing too important, just “I’m running late” kind of thing.

However this morning I discovered that messages haven’t been received by me either.

Previously with iMesage you could ‘force’ to send your message as a regular text message if you wanted to – but that option has gone, certainly if the message has just disappeared.

So, are there any alternatives to iMesage? Or perhaps more importantly, is there a way for me to just send a ‘normal’ text message?

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I’m Gonna Swim the English Channel

I’m hinted and murmured about this for a few months, ever since the successful Channel relay, but I’m going to state it out loud (or write it down at least):

I Will Swim the English Channel

I don’t know when yet, but it now a confirmed entry on my personal to-do list.

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Filed under Swimming

Lego Swimmer

In my group of friends I’m known as ‘the swimmer’. I’m the one that’s always either swimming, or talking about swimming (and soon writing about swimming). So when a friend went to a Lego exhibition on Brick Lane in London the other week, and they had an exhibit that was a swimmer, well he instantly thought of me and took a photo for me.

Lego swimmer

Does it look like me do you think?

I wonder what Ray from SwimCanaryWharf would think of this stroke.


I’ve just gone back to the email that Brian sent to me with the picture attached – he titled it ‘A 1000 bricks in the crawl!’, which is a piece of genius and I wish I’d realised and used it for this blog post!

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It’s started

I had to scrape the car this morning as I got up and set off for my swim.

I’ll let that just sink in.

But for me – that means it is now winter! For those of you not in the UK you might not realise that we’ve had a very, very mild Autumn. In fact, it’s been so warm that we haven’t really had an Autumn. So we’ve gone from summer to winter in the space of about two days.


On the upside, I got to use my great new bag properly for the first time today.

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Iā€™m writing a book ā€“ Open For Business: business advice from a fresh [water] perspective.

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Flag Alpha Bag

I was lucky enough to go over to Canada this summer. And as part of the trip I spent a few days in Halifax (I even had a swim there).

Halifax Farmers' Market

Halifax Farmers’ Market

One morning that I was there I went to the farmers’ market to have breakfast (I love going to places like that to see both the fresh, local produce and the local people). One of the stalls I saw had a really interesting selection of bags which caught my eye, but I carried on walking around.

On my way past again I saw that one of the bags had a Flag Alpha design on it, so I stopped and had more of a nosey around. I even got chatting to the stallholder and she explained that the bags were made out of old sails – making them incredible durable and also a great way to reuse the sails. It also meant that each bag is unique.

Immediately it occurred to me that to have a bag for my swimming kit that was a) made out of old sail and b) had a Flag Alpha design would be pretty special.

Unfortunately they didn’t have anything there and then, but I took a card and continued to think about about it more. I left for a few weeks after I got back, but in the end I decided to treat myself and got in touch and ordered one to be made and shipped. It has arrived today:

Flag Alpha Bag

Flag Alpha Bag

Details of the sail

Details of the sail

It looks great and will now become my new bag for swimming kit. So if you see me at the pool or lake over the next few months you’re likely to see it. It is also laptop size, so I might even take it to a few meetings too.

If you want one, get in touch with Windbag –

– ā€“ –

Iā€™m writing a book ā€“ Open For Business: business advice from a fresh [water] perspective.

Please check out my crowdfunding site to pre-order a copy ā€“

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