So what’s been happening on the training front since my first blog, you may ask?
Well – quite a lot!
Since my last (and first) entry on the blog here, I got my lovely colleague, Lou, on board with the swim – and it’s great!
Besides the benefit of having someone to share your swimming antics and excitement about the up-coming (and what will essentially, for both of us, be our “maiden”) sea swim with, Lou has brought with her some un-relenting enthusiasm and great knowledge on different swimming techniques for long-distance free-styling.
While we await the arrival of her newly-purchased tri-wet suit, we are also going along to a ‘conditioning’ class each week at a local 25-meter pool with a pool-side coach.
I feel certain that Lou would agree with me when I say that it has been hugely beneficial and it is not only a tremendous way to get your pulse up and really clog in the miles, but has also helped both of us polish off our techniques and add some variation to the training regime.
A typical session will usually look something like this:
700 m. freestyle
6 x 150 m. freestyle with every 50 m. kick – pull – full-stroke
12 x 50 m. freestyle with 40 second rest between each set
6 x 25m with a 30 second rest between each set
…and so on – you get the idea.
I seldom stop and reflect on how far I have come since my shoulder injury, but I had a moment to do so yesterday morning during my weekly session at a local swimming club.
It happened while powering up and down the lane, wearing fins and focusing on the set which we were doing; If you would have asked me 3 months ago, whether swimming a set wearing fins, was my preference? I would have laughed at you. Now, I love it. The challenge the fins provide, made me realise how far I have progressed – both in technique and in fitness.
8 weeks ago, I returned from a challenging session in the pool, my feet scorched by blisters. All I could think of was how to conquer my hatred of fins and kicking drills. My empathetic (and might I add – very patient!) gym instructor got me to work on lots of leg- and core work, which included a programme on a bike, lunges, floor work and using an exercise machine which works your hips and thighs. Like anyone else going to the gym, I got to work with great determination, following the programme I was given, not really thinking too much about where all the effort would take me… And now – here I am. I love swimming drills with fins. It is such a great way to work on your kick, providing greater awareness of kicking with your whole leg and also helps you to be aware of stabilising my core while kicking.
The fins – for me, at least – is a symbolic representation of how far I have come in my training and fitness, towards the sea swim. No matter how much or how little you are training and getting ready for the sea swim, make sure you do give yourself a motivational pat on the back for every achievement you make along the way!
The ‘experts’ say, however, that there is never a time to stop and reflect on how far you have come; this only provides the chance to be complacent and ignore the voice at the back of your mind that never rests. You know – the one that relentlessly asks: “…so is this it? Is this really all you can muster? Is this all you’ve got??”
This voice, this feeling, is what drives me. What keeps me powering on, even though my legs burn, my lungs sting and all I want to think about is the warm shower, the cereal bar in my locker and a million other things.
But I am fiercely competitive by nature, so all I hear is that voice – at the back of my mind. And I realise that that voice only belongs to one person – me.