Tag Archives: training

A Training Hiatus

I talked about a big day of triathlon training in May, however I have realised that over the next few weeks I will have to take a bit of a break in my training.

I do this swimming (and running and cycling) for ‘fun’. As a way to relax and unwind after work, but also as a way to push myself and get the best out of my [now noticeably aging] body. I do it because I enjoy all the aspects of it – the training, the events and the camaraderie. I do it for me.

However, I have other priorities in life – in particular family and work.

Family stuff is fairly settled at the moment and my son and I have got into some great routines and we [at least I do] enjoy the time we have together. It’s work though that’s going to need my attention over the next few weeks.

I run my own business and I’m lucky that I enjoy it – but it is mentally all-consuming. Recently we’ve won some new and exciting clients and on top of that there’s a big industry event coming up at the end of Feb. Over the next few weeks I need to ensure that I have 100% of my focus available for work every day. So until the end of Feb I’m going to rein in the training a bit.

I still plan to do as much as I can, but to make sure that’s out of fun and enjoyment and not forced or pressured. I’ll be using any exercise and activity as stress relief and enjoyment, rather than as training.

I need to prioritise things in life and for now work HAS to be my priority. I also need to understand how I tick and although I’ve talked about exercise as a stress relief I also know that I just need ‘time off’ to relax and perform at my optimum. I’m not someone that can whizz through life at a hundreds miles an hour, and rush from job to gym every day. I need some down time too. I need to be able to spend time on my own and with my own thoughts to recharge the batteries.

So that it what I need to focus on for the next few weeks – work and then myself to allow me to perform for work at my best level. Exercise will play a part in that, but putting myself under pressure to hit training goals certainly won’t.

Hopefully once this period is out of the way and March rolls around I’ll be able to get back into it

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This year’s targets

After completing my distance goal for 2015, I’m going to set some new targets for this year.

Events

Firstly, it has to be around events. The main reason I train is to be able to take part in the events I enjoy and to not only take part, but enjoy them too. The year has two main goals as far as events are concerned:

IsoMan Half

The IsoMan events are designed to equalise the normal triathlon distances, so that you should spend roughly the same time completing each discipline. As a swimmer, this is music to my ears as most triathlons are very heavily geared towards the cycling and running.

The IsoMan event is on July 2nd and I am doing the half distance, which comprises of a 3.5 mile swim, a 30.6 mile bike ride, and then a half marathon (13.1 mile run).

I really enjoyed watching friends complete the Outlaw Half last year in Nottingham, so I fancied another crack at triathlons. My goal is to complete the whole thing in under 6 1/2 hours, but we’ll see.

Windermere

For some reason I only swim Windermere in even numbered years (2012 and 2014 were my previous swims), so it seems only right that I have another go at it this year. It will be a real test of my new stroke and the work I’ve put into that to see if it can keep me going down the length of the lake and to a decent finish. Any time within 30 minutes of the IsoMan finish time and I’d be delighted with that.

Training

My year long goal is hit 2,000kms (doubling the original premise of this blog). I hit my target of 1,600kms last year, so I’m going to stretch it a bit further. However, I’m also going to change the algorithm slightly. At the moment I treble any swimming distance and divide by four any cycling distance. My plan for this year is to roughly follow the IsoMan ‘equalising’ algorithm.

What that means for this year is that the swimming will be multiplied by 3.5, while the cycling will only be divided by 2.5.

While it does mean that my swimming is counted more, I suspect the biggest difference will be in the cycling, as not only will it now count for much more, but with the IsoMan coming up I’ll also be doing a lot more of it.

Other Events

All the other events I’m doing are really (in my mind) classified as training for my two main goal events. I don’t always have as much time for training as I’d like, especially the long training swims, so I’ve entered a number of events that will hopefully help me to build up to my target events.

For the IsoMan I have:

  • Southwell sprint tri – this event is in my local village and is great fun. They run it twice a year and I did the autumn version in 2014, so I have a target time to try and beat.
  • Leeds half marathon – I’ve never done this before, but I know a few people who have entered, so I thought it sounded like a great training event, as well as chance to catch up with friends.

For Windermere I have:

  • Bala weekend – I’m hoping to do both the 3km and 6mile swims on the Saturday and then the 3mile swim on the Sunday.
  • Ullswater / Derwentwater – another weekend of swimming with the BLDSA, with the 7mile Ullswater on the Saturday and the 5.25mile Derwentwater on the Sunday.

I’ll let you know how I get on…

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Cruising Along

I’m using the winter months to spend time in the pool working on technique and speed and it feels like it’s starting to come together.

The technique comes from drills from SwimCanaryWharf, while the speed comes in a variety of different sprint sets. My favourite is a pyramid of 100 – 200 – 400 – 200 – 100, all off set times.

However, the aim of this work is not necessarily to get quicker over 100m, or even 400m, but to allow me to be able to be generally quicker over the longer distances. So as well as sprint sets I also try to mix in some ‘cruising’ sets. What I want to be able to do is find the quickest speed at which I can keep going, yet without really getting myself out of breath. So I’m swimming ‘relaxed’ 1km swims, but trying to keep the pace strong.

Last week, any swims I did like this were between 1:56 and 1:58 per 100m, today I got that pace down to just under 1:55 per 100m.

That may not sound particularly quick to some people, but even if I add an extra 10 seconds for the cold water and an extra 10 seconds to feed, then my Windermere time will be well over an hour quicker than I’ve done it before.

I know it’s not as easy as that – but it’s a good start.

Anyway, that was my last swim before Xmas. Hope you all have a good one. See you on the other side to swim off the turkey.

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I got a PB

One of the things I love about open water swimming is the fact that it is different every time, it isn’t controlled and ‘sanitised’ like pool swimming. When you swim in a pool, you can be confident that the distances are exact, the water will be a standard temperature and you can swim up and down in a straight line. You can therefore be confident in the distance you have swum and you can measure it exactly against other swims.

Open water swimming is not like that.

On any given day the various variables mean that each swim is different. The course may change slightly (even moored buoys can move a bit), the wind and water temperature can make a huge difference. Not to mention the current or tides if you are in a river or the sea. In many ways, each swim is completely different and can’t be compared to others – even if you have swum the same ‘course’.

On that logic, I’m pleased to announce that I got a PB on Sunday.

I need to qualify that slightly – it was a PB for the swim on Sunday – given that every swim is unique. It wasn’t a PB for the distance, or even for that venue. But hey, I’ll take what I can get.

I was actually quite a bit slower than last year, but so were most people – it was very windy on Sunday (and cold!). However, I was actually slower in comparison to other people (ie they weren’t as much slower as I was). Now, they are on different swimming journeys, but still now I’ve done the big endurance event it’s time to spend a bit of time working on speed.

One of my biggest problems is knowing quite how hard to push myself on these swims. I can spend a bit too long being a ‘tourist’ and not swimming hard. So I’m not going to work on my sprinting speed, but rather my endurance threshold – getting used to feeling more comfortable pushing a bit harder for longer.

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Thanks Ray

I’m sure I’ll write plenty more over the next few days / weeks about the swim, but I did want to say a huge thank you to Ray at SwimCanaryWharf. I swam 24 miles over the weekend and not once did my stroke break down and cause my swimming to suffer. There is no way I would have survived without Ray’s help and work on my stroke.

In recognition of that I wore my SwimCanaryWharf swim hat for the last mile.

Setting off for mile 24

Setting off for mile 24

Finishing. 24 miles completed!

Finishing. 24 miles completed!

If you have any doubts about your swimming, or you’ve got some big swims coming up, then I strongly advise you to seek him out.

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April Training Plan

So, I’ve done a training plan for April. This is also the plan that will take me up to the 2swim4life event on May bank holiday weekend.

I estimate that I’ll do about 45kms in April if I stick to the plan, which feels at least 15kms light if I’m honest. Just like any other event though I have to manage life stuff as well and right now that all comes before swimming.

Here’s the plan:

April training plan

April training plan

The trick now is to stick to it and make it effective.

The swimming will be a mixture of distance sessions (I’ll aim to do a kilometre every 22 minutes to give me short rests in between them) which I’ll do in the mornings, then still some drills and technique work in the evening sessions. I’ll need a mixture of both on the day itself, so I need to practice both.

As it gets closer I must admit I’m getting a bit more nervous about 2swim4life!

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More running

It would appear that I am getting my running mojo back.

I’d love to be a summer swimmer and then a winter runner, that’s the plan. I’m not much good at either, but when I feel fit enough I enjoy them both. For both of them I’m much more a slow plodder than a racer, tending to go longer and slower than many.

At the moment my running isn’t up to much, but it is getting there. And today was another good run.

Today's run

Today’s run

The plan today was to try to go a bit faster and also do some ‘hills’ – or as close to hills as we get around here. I’m still happy to do bits of walking (as advised by the physio when getting back to running after injury) and you can see the three slow sections which were walks, but the running pace was good and the ‘hills’ were good too.

There’s a little rise near me and so I did two sides of that. Up, across and down – then walk – up and across – then walk – across then down – then walk – up, across and down to get back to where I started (I also had to transport a fox, a chicken and some grain… more here).

The last section hurt my legs as I’d done a long (75 minutes) run on Monday, but another good run done. I’m almost starting to look forward to the Coniston 14.

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Improving my technique

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve started to see a technique coach who will hopefully make me a smoother and stronger (and therefore quicker) swimmer. My plan is to focus on technique over the winter, plus running, so I can come back in the summer as a better swimmer.

I’m using the excellent Ray Gibbs of Swim Canary Wharf to help me and I had my first session a couple of weeks ago. Ray is great as he is really enthusiastic, very knowledgeable, but yet able to deliver the information in an easy-to-understand way. You swim in his endless pool and he films you swimming from a number of different angles – highlighting areas you can work on. He then gives you drills that will help you to work on those areas and you need to go away and practice them yourself.

My biggest issue was dropping my right shoulder and arm (using them as a lever to help me breath – even though I didn’t need to do it, my brain & body are still struggling with it). So, despite not being able to use my fins, I’ve worked on the drill Ray gave me for the last few weeks. It’s hard work, but I *think* I can feel myself getting better.

Well this morning I had two strong pieces of evidence that suggest that it’s working and I am getting better.

The first was a comment from another user of the pool I swim in. We chat quite regularly and there are a few swimmers there who take a real interest in what I’m doing and the challenges I’m setting myself. We also have Adam Walker (an Ocean 7s swimmer) who occasionally swims in our pool, so I’m the other open water swimmer.

Anyway, this morning, as she got into the lane I was swimming in, she said:

“You’ve got a really lovely stroke. I was watching you from the side and it’s really got better over the last few months.”

She’s not just another plodder, she’s actually a swimming teacher for kids at the pool, so (and I don’t think she’ll be offended by this) while she may not be in Ray’s league, she knows her stuff. It was lovely to hear her say it.

The second reason is that after the technique work I decided to do a quick ‘sprint’ burst. I’m not very quick and I don’t try to kill myself, instead what I want to do is swim at a ‘comfortable’ capacity and then keep it up. I do:

– 100m at 1:50
– 200m at 3:45
– 400m at 7:35
– 200m at 3:45
– 100m at 1:50

It’s a nice 1km ladder and it gets me working hard. For those of you that don’t understand the terminology (and I didn’t until recently) this means that I swim 100m and when that’s done I rest for a few seconds, but 1 minute 50 seconds after I started the 100m, I set off to swim 200m; 3 minutes and 45 seconds after I started the 200m (or 5 minutes and 35 seconds after I started the 100m) I set off for the 400m. And so on. I hope that makes sense.

Anyway, the point of this is to say that in the middle of this I did the 400m in 7 minutes and 5 seconds.

It’s not a blistering pace, but it’s pretty quick for me. But best of all – I was knackered from the weekend and it didn’t feel *that* tough. So I’m pretty sure it wasn’t about me muscling the water out of the way, it was down to a better technique. Yay!

This is what I looked like before working on the technique. Both videos shot by Ray at Swim Canary Wharf.

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Two weeks to go

Two weeks today I will be preparing to swim in the English Channel as part of my Channel Relay. I may even already have set off, given the nature of the tides and the weather I can’t say exactly when we’ll be setting off (or even if we will at all). And I suppose that is all part of the excitement and the challenge – not only are you fighting against your own fears and inadequacies, but you can often be fighting the elements too.

As always, I feel under prepared. I feel like I should have done more swimming, spent more time in the lake and got myself physically more ready. Yet at the same time, I know I’ve done all I can do given the rest of life.

I also feel worried about the non-swimming bit of the relay. Being on the boat after my sessions and getting ready for my next swim. I’m concerned about getting cold, not feeding properly, getting seasick and letting my team down. However, there are many things that we just can’t control and I know that I’ll do my absolute best to do whatever it takes to survive and achieve the crossing.

I suppose these nervous feelings are all part of getting close to the event and reaching that point where there’s nothing more I can do. That’s usually the point that you start to think about how much more you should have done!

Having said all of that, I’m really looking forward to it and I’m very excited to be taking part in such an iconic swim and to be part of a great team of outstanding swimmers. Bring it on!

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Another Sunday, yet another 5k

No event this week, but instead a training swim.

I always intended this one to be a bit of a plod. I feel like I haven’t done enough swimming recently (especially with the Channel Relay coming up soon), so today I just wanted to do a few laps of the lake, enjoy it and be ready to do more swimming this week. In the end I did just under 5k in a little under 1hr 50mins.

Of course today is Father’s Day too and before I left for the swim I’d been given a card and a present by my son.

So my entry for the Father’s Day competition is this one:

A swim by the "Best Dad, Hands Down"

A swim by the “Best Dad, Hands Down”

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