More of the same in November...gentle progression, the distance work is feeling nice and comfortable and the speed work is hard, challenging and...... fun. I used to really dislike interval training, but now I am loving it. Getting into the pool when you’re still groggy with sleep, fall into the water and start swimming the warm up I am thinking, ‘am I going to be able to pick up the pace’ but during the build set the heart starts to beat a little faster and the blood pump a little harder....then I really get into it!! Loving the sprint sessions....just have to remember that I am training for a long distance swim and not a sprint!
The kids continue to impact my ability to sleep and during the middle of the month it got so bad that I couldn’t train much for a week. When I hit a period that I cannot train for any reason it really bothers me. I almost feel my fitness waning if I miss a planned session. I know this is the ‘condition’ of the endurance athlete and what drives us to train as hard as we do. Even though I understand this, it doesn’t help when I miss a session!
On the upside I started strength training this month - a couple of Pilates sessions per week and 2 x strength sessions and a Boxercise class, for variety. The key thing I noticed about my first Pilates session was how ‘unfit’ I am! As the sweat was pouring down my face and the inability to do some of the moves well and certainly without any finesse, reminded me that my fitness is swim specific. The stiffness I felt the following day helped confirm this. I had been trying to convince myself that I could get away without doing the gym work, as I really don’t enjoy it and just concentrate on more swimming. Now that I have started to pump a bit of iron I am reminded that during the 24 hour swim I did last year I had no shoulder problems due to the weight training I was doing at the time. A problem that a lot of the other swimmers were struggling with. It is a key part of the training, I have faced the facts and am now getting on with it.
I was thinking that the way I have introduced the strength training into my plan may not be the worst way. I ramped up my swim training in September and gave myself just over 2 months of building, allowing my body to adapt to the increasingly steady load. Only then have I added the strength training. I know I did not plan it this way, but now that it has happened I think this could be the way forward rather than hitting it all at the same time and pounding the body. I trained that way in 2011, all at once and full on. That winter I had so many colds and was very run down, that was before we had 2 children to worry about and sleep was not quite so elusive! I can feel the strength training impacting my swim fitness as my muscles get used to the increased workload. It is slowing me down and I am having to make sure I warm up and down better (I’d say properly, but that would be a lie!) to work through the stiffness. I have even started using a recovery drink in the hope it will help me recover more quickly between sessions. I am hoping that this is a temporary blip and will suddenly have a leap forward in speed and stamina in the water, in the coming weeks. It’s good to hope.
I have started looking at the events/ races I would like to do next year, to assist my training and give me smaller goals to aim for in the lead up to the ‘Big One’ . This is what I have so far:
· March – Eton Channel Swimming Training Camp.
· 26/4 – 2Swim4Life – yes I am a glutton for punishment, but awesome mental training. Last time I did 12hrs skins and 12hrs with wetsuit, the target this time is obviously to do the whole thing skins!
· 27/5 – Eton 10km - possibly not the best event to chose in my lead up to the Channel, but as I was the one that pushed HR into putting the race on, I see it as ‘my race’ J
· 15/6 – Champion of Champions – I hear it is a must!
· End of June – Jurassic coast swim, basically me, a boat (need to find one) and my crew doing a 10 miler along the lovely coast and practising all the things that need practising before the big one.