This month the focus of my training has shifted toward a more immediate goal of doing the 24 hour swim, again. I have continued to do similar training sets, but have worked towards doing multiple swim days. At the beginning of the month I did my normal daily sets but added a second swim set in the afternoon on 2 consecutive days. The following week I added a triple swim day followed by a double and finally started to taper with a double swim day in the middle of the week, on top of the normal swimming routine.
The sessions were mixed, some of them I felt great and some I just felt awful and had to really drag myself to the end of the set, with very little energy. These sessions are always worrying as they are a big psychological hit and make me question my ability to complete the challenges I have set myself. However, on the 5th swim session within a 36hr period I finished the set with a PB over the 1km reps, knocking a couple of seconds off of my previous time. This gave me a massive positive boost and increased my confidence for the 24 hour swim.
I also did my first couple of open water swims this month, which were long awaited. The Serpentine finally warmed to a swimmable level – 7 Celsius in the middle of the month, so I headed down and did a 2km on the Saturday and a 3km on the Sunday. I was very happy with how well my body coped with the cold water. It was obviously a bit of a shock getting into the water, but after a few seconds my breathing was under control, I got used to the feeling of my skin burning and I could get into a rhythm and almost enjoy the experience….almost. After both swims I the shakes kicked in, but not too badly and I was able to warm up much quicker than I had last year, all good signs that my acclimatisation to the cold has been getting better each year.
Over the duration of this month I have started to notice quite a few new aches and pains, mainly in hands and elbow joints. I suspect these are overuse injuries that just need some time to heal. This is a bit of an issue as my training is due to increase with the sea swims starting next month and the 24 hour swim isn’t going to help matters. I’ll just have to go carefully and try to be sensible and not push myself too far before it gets serious – easier said than done.
With this in mind I have to be very careful going into the 24 hour swim. The last time I did the event, completing it was all important and not too much of a problem if I overdid it a bit, as long as there was no long term damage. This time however, nothing matters except the Channel. I cannot jeopardise the Channel by going all out in the 24 hr swim and doing some serious damage.
So, going into the event I had this to think about, as well as a dilemma as to what to do if I got too cold to finish the event. Last time I managed 12 hours without a wetsuit and then donned the neoprene to get me through the cold and dark hours to successfully complete the event. This time I had been told that to put the wetsuit on would be severely frowned upon by the Channel swimming community and would not really help my Channel preparations. I had to wrestle with these thoughts at the expense of perhaps not completing the event, which was tough. On the other hand I could also focus on the positives, I have 2 years of long distance swimming under my belt since the last event, I am a faster, stronger swimmer and I am fatter, well a few kilos heavier anyway…..hoping this will make all the difference!