January has been a strange month, with quite a few interruptions to normal swimming service.  But still a reasonable 80 km in the month.

Long Swims

I am doing a regular ’10 K or more’ swim now on a Sunday morning, after finding a local pool opening at 7 AM, so I have been able to get a good few hours in while not blowing a good part of the day.  I have been trying to find the right sweet spot with longer (in hours) swims, trying to balance keeping a good pace up with ‘going long’.  I am comfortable with the basic 10 K in a little under 3 hours, but am really struggling with the 4th hour.  I start to feel quite tired, in particular getting some lower back  ache.  Nothing awful, nothing that makes me desperately want to stop, but a nagging, niggling unpleasant feeling.  I am not sure where it is coming from, or if there is some technique tweak I can employ to help, but it makes me want to call it a day for fear it will get a lot worse.  I feel OK afterwards, once I’ve stopped.

Feeding is going well, I think.  I am dealing in Carb Drink (SIS – lemon – sweetened with Ribena), jelly babies (2 per mile), and occasionally some banana.  I will be experimenting a little more with various other goodies to see how they feel during a long swim.  So far so good though, with no ‘adverse reactions’, queasiness or sharp exits to the bathroom.  I even did a pretty hard swim (see later) on a Coke and large Cornish Pasty 10 minutes before the other week, and all was well!  The caveat is that all of this is in chlorinated water not sea water.  Once I get into the salty stuff, everything may change……

Test Sets

I have been working on a recurring test set based on one described by Mike Oram, channel pilot of some renown.  It’s an interesting set in that it combines some fast stuff, together with a bit of slog:

1. 250 m W/U

2. 4 x 100 m sprints

3. 1900 m straight swim

4. 200 m sprint

5. 250 m W/D

3000 m total

The key to this is that you can take as much rest as you like/need between the activities, but the goal is to finish the set in the quickest possible time.  The longer the rests  you take, the faster you might go in the subsequent activity, but overall you are likely to go slower.  I’ve done this set a number of times now, and the results are shown at the end.  Basically, the time taken to swim stayed pretty constant across all attempts.  Only in the last attempt last week did I manage to get the actual swimming time down below 47 minutes, and the total time less than 50 minutes.  It seems that other than that, I am pretty one-paced!

This fits very nicely before work, or even on a lunch break (a long one).  I will continue doing this quite regularly and seeing if I can go faster!

Date W/U 4 4 4 4 76 8 S/D Swimming Time Rest Total
All times in seconds/100   m unless stated (Mins) (Mins) (Mins)
01/11/2012 100 85 85 85 85 96 92 100 47.4 4.4 51.8
09/11/2012 99 86 86 87 86 96 90 103 47.4 6.3 53.7
13/11/2012 95 81 82 81 83 96 89 103 47.0 5.2 52.2
15/11/2012 98 83 82 84 86 98 88 102 47.8 4.4 52.2
19/11/2012 101 83 84 86 86 98 89 99 48.0 5.4 53.4
26/11/2012 97 83 83 85 88 97 89 95 47.4 4.4 51.9
28/11/2012 95 82 82 83 85 98 89 102 47.6 4.5 52.2
17/12/2012 94 82 84 85 87 98 90 98 47.6 3.9 51.5
03/01/2013 90 82 84 85 87 97 90 102 47.4 4.2 51.6
16/01/2013 94 85 85 88 87 96 91 99 47.3 2.5 49.8
25/01/2013 91 83 84 86 85 96 89 96 46.7 2.9 49.5


Christmas and New year brought many things:

Small boys in pyjamas opening presents
Spending time with the family and with friends
No work (luckily for me)
Very little swimming (as it happens)
Lots and lots of food
Lots and lots of drink!!

Being back in the pool on the 2nd January brought a number of other things:

Heavy arms
Even slower swimming than usual
A distinct lack of mojo

I have had 3 swims now in 3 days (shortish ones) and starting to feel a little better, but a lesson has been learned.

I am also now officially dry in January. The last time I abstained from alcohol for an entire calendar month I was probably 16! It will be interesting to see what a month of healthy living and hard training produces in terms of speed, or endurance.