Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Turns out swimming is hard.

Since I quit drinking, I have had the longest illness-free period of my adult life, I think. Colds pass by without me breaking a sweat, I may get a tickle here or there but nothing ever fully blooms.

I'm not speaking too soon, believe me. This goes pretty much precisely where you think it goes.

I was away in London for most of last week, and it was punishing. Meetings every 30 minutes for three days, no breaks for lunch or whatever, plus an awards event I had helped organise and was the industry 'face' of. By Thursday night, I was just fucked.

Friday, I worked*. Weekend off, and a tickle is developing... I still managed to do a quick workout Saturday and Sunday, with minimal coughing. But by Monday's swim it was becoming a more fully-rounded cough, with lungular cracklage to boot. So there I was, trying out my crawl, and just couldn't breathe well. But I at least got to study some other swimmers, which was really interesting; it led to me posting a query on a group I am in on Fartbook.

See, my teacher has been teaching me bilateral breathing – that is, breathing on both sides, so taking a breath on an odd stroke count. But I'm struggling with the rhythm of it, and, well, the actual breathing bit. Last night, watching all these perfectly competent swimmers, I was struck by one thing – every one of them was breathing unilaterally. So, I thought, why not train to swim unilaterally, but learn to do it on both sides? That way if water is choppy or whatever, I can adapt and retain speed and form, in theory at least.

So I put the question out there. And one reply hit a nerve, in a good way. The dude said something along the lines of, I started by training unilaterally but as my fitness grew, I switched to bilaterally. So while training and increasing fitness, he needed to take one breath every other stroke, but as his cardio increased, he was able to put an extra stroke in. Genius.

I had not even thought I could be struggling so completely just because I am now swim fit. It's coming home to me now just what that means, and that the part of this that is likely to have the greatest impact on me physically is the swim.

This week I am going to stick to cardio and/or weights in the gym until my chest clears up. But I have ordered cleats for the bike, so new pedals and shoes for when I am ready to rock and roll and not cough my bollocks up. That's another big step.

More soon.

Oh, I didn't run last week as it turned out. What actually happened is, I overslept massively every single day. Missed at least one entire press conference. Go me!

*stared into space, but at my desk.

Friday, 2 February 2018

Apologies for the slight break in your viewing.

It's been a tough few weeks with work and stuff, and I have tried hard to fit training in. I finally got out on the bike this week and fuck the weather; I only went out twice, but it was encouraging and fun, and hard enough for me to push myself. Two rides, each of seven miles, as I try to get used to my lovely bike.

It was good, and that was incredibly reassuring. I also had my first crash, 30 metres from the drive, on the way home. I made the mistake of looking up to see how far away the house was (the road to ours is a bit steep, and the road a bit fucked), and the wheel came off the crumbled edge of tarmac, and I hit the deck. I raised my arms, "Yes! First crash!"

Anyway, I have since invested in some gloves, and a couple more pairs of bike shorts. I have also checked out cleats and the appropriate pedals, which is cool.

I have also been swimminhg a couple of times, including what felt like an epic session in the pool; I was determined not to use the walls or floor to aid me, so I did 3/4 of a mile without touching anything. Not so hard, but it was. And why? Because each lap you are basically starting from a still position. Took me 45 minutes to do 3/4 of a mile, which while not quick tells me my breaststroke is pretty decent.

I did that session because the previous one was so disheartening; I just cannot seem to string together even a full lap of front crawl, and I honestly do not know why. I have another lesson tomorrow though, so hopefully I can get Teach to look into that.

I am, of course, no lighter, but I feel pretty damn good. My diet is improving, I am sleeping like a brick, and next week as I am away, I only have one real choice for exercise. That's right folks – next week I start running again, properly. Outside, whatever the weather.

I'm actually quite excited.