Swim (sort of), swim (ish), swim (nearly), run (x2), gym, cycle trainer, turbo

On Monday I went to the local swimming pool. I was nervous getting back to running after my lay-off, but nothing compared to the thought of swimming for the first time in a few years.

I learnt to swim at school but they were more ‘not drowning’ lessons than actual ‘swimming’ lessons as there was no real attention to technique – just short term survival in the water.

In theory I can swim very well – I’ve studied the websites and YouTube videos – it’s just when it comes to doing it in real life that it all falls apart. I can make some forward progress in the water, but it is nothing like a fair return for all the effort, gasping and splashing that goes into it. On Monday I swam for about 30 minutes, front crawl(ish) but with no idea of how many lengths I managed.

The triathlon in September has an open water swim so I have an open water training session arranged in less than two weeks (hence getting into the water now) but so much more practice is going to be needed to get anything useful out of that session.

My biggest problem is that I have been told that with open water swimming there are no pool ends every 25 metres where you can pretend to be turning while desperately clinging on and sucking in air. What are they thinking of?

I was in rather the more comfortable surroundings of a run of just over 7km (4.4 miles) on Tuesday morning – dry land is much underrated in my opinion.

However, I must try to improve my swimming fairly quickly, and, sadly, the best way of doing that seems to be to do more swimming. Therefore it was back to the pool in the evening for 30 minutes, but remembering to count the lengths swum – 40 (1km).

After a day off on Wednesday it was back to the gym for an hour on Thursday morning and back in the pool in the evening. Another 1km but just a little faster at 28 minutes.

I don’t know if it’s a sign that I’m doing it right or doing it wrong but I can feel some muscles (the latissimus dorsi – the ‘lats’?) being worked by the swimming that haven’t been worked in the same way by the running, cycling or gym. Up to now, I’ve not had too much use for arms or shoulders either so they are also getting a better workout in the pool.

Bike shop volunteering session on Friday morning – a nice variety, working on a child’s bike, an adult’s mountain bike and an old Dawes Galaxy tourer, complete with bar end shifters. Quite a bike in its day and a generous donation by someone.

I went for a solo run on Saturday, pushing the pace and distance a little – 10.5km (6.5 miles) at just under 4 hour marathon pace. I keep thinking that the training in the gym, running, swimming and on the bike will come together so that all of them will miraculously improve. No sign of that happening.

It was cycle training lessons for children at the cycle park on Sunday morning (pretty well non-stop jogging by the side of nervous young cyclists) and I got on the turbo trainer in the late afternoon for a lacklustre 13.4km (8.3 miles) in 30 minutes.

A tough week with 7 sessions of one sort or another. Even though the swimming doesn’t take too long, I find it very tiring – perhaps I should try doing it better?

After three session of flailing around in the pool this week, I can confirm that I can swim in the sense of making some forward progress in the water – but cannot swim in the sense of looking like I know what I’m doing.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: A doctor who invoked a storm on his people cannot prevent his house from destruction

2. BBC News website: Tyson Fury v Anthony Joshua fight less likely

Fury had agreed to fight Joshua in a highly-anticipated fight in August but the boxing authorities have concluded that Deontay Wilder had a contractual right to face Fury for a third time, by 15 September.

Fury said Wilder asked for $20m (Ā£14m) to forego his right to the fight and allow Fury to fight Joshua, while Wilder’s trainer said he had no interest in step-aside money and wanted the fight.

I’d just like to say that I would be prepared not to fight Tyson Fury for much less than $20m.

3. BBC News website: Yoga can now legally be taught in Alabama public schools

The state’s department of education barred yoga in 1993, citing its connection to Hinduism.

The new law limits yoga to stretches and poses, and prohibits non-English descriptions as well as “any aspect of Eastern philosophy and religious training”. Chanting is also not allowed, including the use of the sound “om”. 

um …

4. BBC News website: Severe weather kills cross-country runners

At least 21 people have died as high winds and freezing rain hit participants in the 100km (60-mile) race in the Yellow River Stone Forest, a tourist site in Gansu province, China, state-run media reported.

The race was halted when some of the 172 runners went missing, Xinhua news agency said. The bodies were found by search-and-rescue teams on Sunday.

That is so sad and so extreme. It puts all my whinging about a bit of rain on a run into perspective

5. Did you know: The collective noun for a group of flamingos is ‘a flamboyance’

11 thoughts on “Swim (sort of), swim (ish), swim (nearly), run (x2), gym, cycle trainer, turbo

  1. unironedman

    That was one hell of an ultra-marathon. I read the report online, though there was no mention of temperatures. I can only assume the majority were decked out in light gear for running and got caught in severe windchills. Many of them were experienced runners too.

    As for swimming; it comes back with a few decent sessions. The biggest issue training in the pool is that you get very lazy on sighting, so lose way too much momentum in the open water, when you should just get your head down and swim nice long strokes and make progress. The fear you are going wrong makes you look up and slow down. Tough one to get the balance right; only practice IN open water can really solve that dilemma.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The Omil Post author

      I fear I never mastered swimming to the extent that it can ever come back. What I think I wanted to hear was that it is much harder in the pool and open water will be a doddle in comparison …. Still, never too late to learn?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. unironedman

    Sorry, you’re right. That is actually what I meant to say. šŸ™‚

    I usually let the posse on ahead and find myself some clear water and find I catch up after a while. A lot of folks get terribly excited at the start, and then fall away. Slow and steady for the swim is my motto!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The Omil Post author

    I have mastered the ‘slow’ bit of the swim, steady may be aiming a bit too high. My plan is to hang back at the start and then fall further back as the swim progresses.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. olderrunner2

    I never really learned proper technique for swimming either. I can’t seem to keep my face in the water. The one time I had proper lessons, I did do it some and was amazed at how much easier it was when done correctly. I think if you have coaching, you can get there.

    I read about the runners dying in the ultra earlier today. So sad.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The Omil Post author

      I’m hoping the the chap who does the open water session has the simple answer to my swimming woes but I fear that is too much to ask. I think you are right that some lessons feels like the real answer.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. unironedman

        The most important thing I ever learned about swimming is that it’s not about swimming. It’s about breathing. There is no other sport in the world where you can’t breathe when you want to. So all of that stroke length, number of kicks, technique, tumble-turns, blah blah is academic if you don’t first understand that basic problem with swimming. Your body says ‘breathe’, your head says ‘not while I’m face down in the water, thanks’. So your swim technique is really only about finding a way to move forward and breathe enough while doing it.

        Bilateral breathing is the posh term. Or breathe on the left, then stroke for three, then breathe on the right. An average fit swimmer going at an average pace can make this work with a small bit of practice. If you are doing this already, bravo. If not, start doing it now. All the time. Until it’s second nature. It calms the body down.

        You get more than enough oxygen (as you know, air is only 20% oxygen, and we only absorb about a quarter of the oxygen in that half a litre of breath). Slowly exhale that air as you stroke. Don’t blow it all out like a breaching whale when you turn for a breath. That reduces your chance to inhale. By the time you are ready for your next breath, you have exhaled out all the previous one. Holding your breath does not make your lungs absorb more oxygen! On the contrary, holding one’s breath is usually a signal to the body that something is wrong. So we have to fool the body a little bit. We are swimming, not drowning, ideally.

        Every second or fourth stroke is either too much or not enough air. As you know from running, a deficit in air is quickly recognised by the lungs and you start panting. Panting underwater is a really bad move šŸ˜‰

        Also, the secondary benefit from bilateral breathing is that you stay in a straight line for longer. You keep your head down for longer. You don’t lose as much speed. Get that right, then all you need to do is build in the final piece of the puzzle which is working out how many breaths before you have a quick look up to get your bearings. Try six. You should be able to use a breath to look up long enough to get your bearings and make any small corrections; ideally, get the breath in, then look, then swim. Remember, you are in open water. You are unlikely to hit a wall. If you get near another swimmer, you’ll know before you hit them, and the worst that will happen is that you touch their feet (the horror!). You’re not David Icke, flying down the motorway at 100mph with your eyes closed…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The Omil Post author

        Thank you – I’m certainly in the market for good advice. I do the bilateral breathing thing (but didn’t know that’s what it is called) but if I find myself getting short of breath resort to breaths every other stroke until I recover. Oddly, the breathing out bit is harder, sometimes I forget, sometimes do it slowly and sometimes I do the breathing out explosion – all a bit random but it will improve with practice, no doubt. On this sighting lark, are you telling me that they don’t have nice black lines along the bottom of the lake?

        Liked by 1 person

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