Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Banning Channel Swimming....?!!

According to a news report on the BBC last night, 'Channel Swimming should be banned according to French Coastguards' with swims being likened to a pedestrian attempting to cross the M25! To be fair this shouldn't come as a surprise as the French banned Calais-Dover Channel swim crossings over 17 years ago. However, fingers crossed no-one on the British side listens too hard, at least until August next year has passed!!

Reflections on the Daily Swim Challenge.

Firstly, here are the stats from the last month:

Week 1 (Days 1-9): 11,250m
Week 2 (Days 10-16): 22,500m
Week 3 (Days 17-23): 35,000m
Week 4 (Days 24-31): 56,000m (extra 250m just to round up the session on the last day to 8,000m!)

Total for October: 124,750m.

I must admit I was actually shocked by how much I had managed to swim - nearly 125kms or a little of 78miles is just shy of an IM distance swim on average every day. I am really really pleased with this swim block and really think it will help contribute to the success of the challenge.

However, this swim really was about quantity over quality and I spent a lot of time just finding a rhythm and churning out the lengths. This is ok up to a point as that is ultimately what I will be doing when I finally swim the Channel however, going forward it will now also be important to build up to some proper structured sets with time trials to measure progress, drills to improve technique and speed work to build overall speed and give me a few fast twitch fibres for when the command to 'Sprint' finally comes!

There were many positives to take away from the challenge. It helped improve my mental strength as I had to find the motivation to go and exercise every, single day without fail and I had to learn to complete some pretty long and boring sets plodding up and down the pool. Surprisingly this have never been SO much of an issue for me. I love to train in the pool and on the treadmill, I like the consistent environment, the constant calculation of new statistics and the distraction of whatever's on the tv! Plus it's always warm and I always have access to loos, nutrition etc! But I do know that I will need to get used to both running and swimming outdoors and my key sessions will always be done in this environment so I can begin to understand the challenges of the race.

The swim challenge has also improved my efficiency and feel for the water. Even during the longest of swims I rarely felt tired and especially on the long evening swims felt strong and smooth in the water. I need to swim at least three times a week, preferably four or five to try and maintain the type of efficiency I have built up. My shoulder strength has also hopefully improved. I have also managed to lose nearly 11lbs during the month which is a huge bonus. I wanted to try and keep a restricted calorie amount whilst training hard in swimming(something I am less comfortable doing during heavy run periods as I believe the immune system gets so depleted it needs more support from food and its requisite vitamins and minerals). As I am training so hard I normally justify that I can eat whatever I want which means I have never lost weight even during the hardest periods of training but it would certainly help the run if I can be lighter so I will continue to restrict a little until I am somewhere between 10 and 10.5 stone (about 3lbs away) and then look to maintain that weight and see how it feels.

I am certainly looking forward to a more varied approach to training but I really enjoyed the challenge and it has made me appreciated that swimming is my first love and, having neglected it so heavily, to focus predominantly on biking for the Double, I look forward to putting many hours and miles in over the next nine months!