Good Friday Push and Interval Swimming

Tomorrow is Good Friday and I have teamed up with a friend to push through the half marathon barrier for a run. Hopefully the weather will cooperate and I won’t get sick. Anything else I can work through. I’ve been swimming and cycling regularly, although unlike my previous blogging I won’t be posting maps all the time unless I take on a new course. Anyone genuinely interested in maps of previous runs can view them via the Garmin Connect links posted with my data. The last couple of days are thus:

Data

Cycling

Distance 11.03 mi | Time 47:03 | Speed 14.1 mph | Elev Gain 896 ft

Source: Garmin Connect

Swimming

Distance 1,000 m | Time 40:06 | Pace 1:40 min/100m

Source: Garmin Connect

I have had a week off from swimming so I carried on yesterday from where I left off previously, namely interval swimming. Two sets of 8, 6, 4 and 2 laps, going as quickly as I can with three minutes rests between each interval in order to get my heart rate down to resting as quickly as possible. I could carry on doing 3000 metres three times weekly but this new routine not only breaks up the monotony, but also interval training is recommended for fat burning (calorie burn continues for hours after workouts), building endurance and it allegedly is very good for the heart as it ‘increases the flexibility and elasticity of arteries and veins better than continuous aerobic exercise‘.

I haven’t really done very much interval training in the past so I am keen to explore it, however I worry about it becoming a means to and end in itself. I actually enjoy long runs and bike rides so if I do go further on intervals I will restrict it to the swimming pool for now. I also need to learn a lot more about it before I continue to develop as I know very little other than my own invented interval swim workout.

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Cycling and the Challenge of Interval Swimming

Today I varied things a little. I went for a 14 mile bike ride this morning and then switched up my endurance swimming for some lung busting intervals in the pool. As the weather gets warmer and the evenings get lighter it is getting harder for me to resist the pull of cycling over all other forms of exercise so I am trying to add variation to spice things up.

The ride was 14 miles, and I intended to push to 20 and include a 30 degree climb, however I decided to leave enough in the tank to swim tonight.

Cycling Map and Data

Swim Data

Interval swimming is very challenging. Tonight I did intervals of 8, 6, 4 and 2 laps, although I accidentally did 10 for the first set. I absolutely hammered away as hard as possible, averaging at 1 minute 41 seconds per 100 metres. I thought my heart would explode out of my chest. I worked as hard as I could physically stand. Now that I have hit Iron Man distances for endurance swimming I returned to intervals for the serious business of fat burning and speed.

Distance 1,050 m | Time 40:41 | Pace 1:41 min/100m

Source: Interval Swimming

Achievement Unlocked: Personal Best

Today’s trip to the pool was a big deal. Having achieved a swim of Iron Man distance I am now turning my attention to improving my times rather than logging ever longer workouts in the pool, and today I achieved two significant milestones. First of all I logged a personal best of 3000 metres in 59:33, and second of all this is my first 3000 metre swim to come in under an hour. I feel very pleased with myself indeed. I returned to swimming on February 3rd this year, meaning that I have gone from a swim of 600 metres divided into six drills of four laps to this in just over a month. I am also pleased to have pushed my average time per 100 metres to under two minutes at 1:59.

Data

3,000 m • 59:33 • 1:59 min/100 m • 30.2 100m/hour •

Source: Lap Swimming: Personal Best Achieved

This is a good day and a good feeling. I hope I can keep improving and driving those overall times and lap times down. Small victories are where it’s at. When pushing oneself to be better the margins are fine and the triumphs relatively small so it is important to acknowledge them when they are achieved.

Achievement Unlocked: GUTTED

Today I did it! I cracked the Iron Man distance of 2.4 miles in the pool!

Except I’m gutted. I had to get out at 2900 metres for a quick poo. I resisted for as long as possible but after two dangerous farts in there water I couldn’t risk leaving a butterscotch slipstream in the water so I got out and availed myself of the facilities. This means that I did not complete the distance without stopping. As a result this swim is divided into two strange drills of 2900 and 1100 metres. GUTTED.

Data

4,000 m • 1:29:44 • 2:04 min/100 m • 28.9 100m/hour •

Source: Iron Man distance broken

At least I did it, albeit not in a way I didn’t quite want. Still, I’ll take it as progress. I have now proven that I can do the cycling and swimming legs of an Iron Man triathlon. All that remains is the marathon.

Lessons Learned in the Pool

Tonight I furthered my maximum distance in the pool thus far to 3500 metres. I am very proud of myself, however tonight I learned a valuable lesson. Never eat a spicy meal before a swim. I had so much trapped wind by the time I had finished that I felt as though one of the chestbursters from the Alien films was about to explode out of me.

Data

3,500 m • 1:12:50 • 2:05 min/100 m • 28.8 100m/hour •

Source: 3500 metres of farty, burpy swimming

Still, we all live and learn as time goes by and I didn’t feel a thing until I got out of the pool. When I arrived home I downed some bicarbonate of soda to take care of my colic-y ailment and I found myself regretting that I finished this swim with only 3 minutes of pool time to spare. Had I had an extra ten minutes or so then I would have pushed on to 4000 metres and broken through the distance required to complete the swimming leg of an Iron Man triathlon, some 2.4 miles.

Still, there’s always next time. I’ll nail it then.

Achievement Unlocked: 1 Hour Nonstop Swim

I did it! After all that huff and puff about swimming for an hour without a rest I finally did it, and it turns out that my hand was forced too. My pool decided not to update its timetable so when I arrived for a swim I found that I only had an hour rather than 90 minutes due to lessons having been scheduled but not posted online to the timetable. Idiots. Anyway, I was planning to swim long distance tonight, shooting for 4000 metres in 40 lap drills but since I couldn’t do that I opted to push myself in terms of stamina. It turns out to have been easier than doing drills, since I ached less, both then and now and I do not feel as sore as if I had done drills.

Data

3,025 m • 1:01:31 • 2:02 min/100 m • 29.5 100m/hour •

Source: 3000 metres continuous swimming

Rather bizarrely Garmin Connect has added an extra lap when I had to stop to pull up my shorts and re-tie the drawstring so my Garmin Swim watch thinks that I did 3025 metres and burned off an extra seven calories. Very strange. Still, I consider this to be a major achievement for me, especially as I only returned to swimming around three weeks ago. I am hoping that I can next secure a swim of 90 minutes or more and to be able to shoot for 4000 metres nonstop. That will be a swim of a greater distance than that required in the Iron Man triathlon, which comes in at 2.4 miles/3.9 (ish) kilometres.

Not bad for thirty-something about to become a forty-something I feel.

Continuing In the Pool

Today I did not improve my distance in the pool, mainly because there is only a one hour session for lane swimming on Saturdays (don’t get me started on how the public swimming pool doesn’t seem to be used very much for public swimming), however I did push myself in another way. Last time out I did 3000 metres divided into 4 drills of 30 laps. This time I did 3000 metres divided into 3 drills of 40 laps. I am currently confident that I could swim that distance nonstop, probably further in fact, however I am well aware of the dangers of pushing too far, too quickly. I am still burning the same number of calories, and believe me, I am definitely working hard, as evidenced by the fact that I am exhausted and ready to sleep once I have arrived home after a swim and I have sat on the sofa at home for half an hour or so. It seems silly to drive too hard for an hour of unbroken swimming, however, it also allows me to structure my training. The next logical step is to push up to drills of 50 laps. Since this does not divide into 120 I can now use the longer sessions to push that into 3 drills of 50, and so on. By the time I reach my next short session on a Saturday I will be on drills of 60 laps, and then the following week I should be swimming without stopping at all. After that it is all down to how hard I wish to push myself mentally. I can still stop to rest if I wish but I would love to be able to hammer out a two hour swim without stopping. That would be cool.

I don’t doubt my stamina or my physical prowess. Such feats of distance and endurance are all about what is going on between the ears, whether or not a person can mentally stand such discipline and rigorous training. I personally view it as training for life as well as sport. Staying power is staying power. It doesn’t matter who it is gained, it is valuable in all cases. It is especially a tough discipline when one knows that it is easy to get out of the pool or to rest at one end. Running is a different proposition in that once one is halfway around it is a long run home no matter which way one finishes, plus one can wear headphones and the scenery changes, neither of which applies to swimming.

Data

3,000 m • 1:02:34 • 2:01 min/100 m • 29.7 100m/hour •

Source: Garmin Connect

I currently average just over 2 minutes per 100 metres. I have no idea if that is particularly fast or not but it certainly feels like a hard workout. I was a pretty powerful swimmer and diver at school and I think I have retained that in middle age. I am certainly the fastest of all the swimmers I see in the pool but that doesn’t mean much. They could be lazy or unfit or they could be great swimmers who are simply taking it easy. In any case, it isn’t a race; it is I that I am racing against myself. That is the best race there is.

Achievement Unlocked: 3000 Metres

Today was a good day, starting this morning. I am on my non-running day so today I took a short bike ride, 11 miles or so. I enjoyed it because it was a clear, beautiful winter day in the countryside as you can see from the photograph below. The downside of such rides on a February day in the UK is the temperature. Today it was -3 degrees which is unbelievably cold when one factors in the usual windchill associated with cycling.

On the road, cycling over Crown Point

Map

Data

11.00 mi • 47:11 • 4:17 min/mi • 14.0 mph • 912 ft

Source: Garmin Connect

I always log my rides using my Garmin Edge 800 (I will trade up to an Edge 1000 at some point – love that thing) but in order to fulfil my workout targets on my Apple Watch I logged the ride using the workout app on that too. It did duplicate the workout on My Fitness Pal so I had to delete the Apple version because Garmin counts calories and calculates climbs and so forth with far greater accuracy than any app can. I will do things this way in future because previously I used to have to add my calorie burn and distance cycled to iOS Health manually, this way it gets done for me so it is easier to delete from My Fitness Pal than to add all of that manually. In an ideal world Garmin Connect data would automatically be pushed to iOS health but that isn’t an available feature yet. I think it might be an Apple thing because I have had to add manual info whenever I track with anything that isn’t an app so I don’t think that Apple allows third party apps or services to push data to Health retrospectively without an iOS app being involved. On the other hand however, I can easily see that being epic stubbornness on the part of Garmin. Just see their annoying behaviour in respect to Strava for evidence on that front. I’ve asked Garmin and got no answer and Apple have not been forthcoming either.

Swimming

This evening I managed a milestone swim of 3000 metres, consisting of four drills of 30 laps.

Data

3,000 m • 1:08:30 • 2:00 min/100 m • 30.1 100m/hour •

Source: Garmin Connnect: 3000 Metres

This was yet again a swim where I could have done a lot more had I had the following five days to recover. I feel I did around 75% of what I could have done on the night, however we mere mortals do not have the luxuries of pro athletes. I have real life in the morning! Still, in a way I have done two thirds of a triathlon today. That is definitely new.

Achievement Unlocked: 100 Laps

Tonight I stepped up my swimming in a big way. My last swim was 8 drills of 10 laps. Tonight I doubled my lap count and completed five drills, coming in at 100 laps and 2500 metres. I felt great swimming and I could have pushed for another drill but the adults only swimming session at the pool only for just an hour, and I completed this with 2 minutes to spare. I was actually swimming for 49 minute, meaning that I rested for just nine minutes. I am not sure where I will go from here but I have in mind to push for 4 drills of 30 laps, clocking in at 120 in total. I can do that for sure, what counts is whether I can do it in an hour. We shall see.

Data

2,500 m • 57:24 • 2:00 min/100 m • 30.1 100m/hour •

Source: 100 laps completed on Garmin Connect

I am getting closer to my target of swimming nonstop for an hour and its amazing to see how my body has remembered how good I was previously and it has adapted remarkably well. Right now I feel that I could push on so much further than this, which is a good sign. I feel tired and well exercised but not completely spent. It is now just a case of properly managing the growth curve in my fitness now. I’m hoping I can be ready to do at least a triathlon this year. That would be cool.

Achievement Unlocked: 2000 Metres

Tonight I successfully completed a 2000 metres swim. It was actually 2050 metres but that is only because I miscounted laps on one drill. The swim was 8 drill of 250 metres.

Data

2,050 m • 1:00:09 • 1:58 min/100 m • 30.6 100m/hour •

Source: 2000 metres unlocked

I could have carried on swimming tonight so I am hoping soon to hit the next milestone which is to swim for an hour with one break. In the past I usually divided that into 2 drills of 50 laps. Intermediate stages for that will be 4 x 20 laps and then 3 x 30 laps.

The elements of swimming I love are the whole body, non-impact workout it gives and also the resistance, particularly for the upper body. It is a very satisfying sport in which to partake.

Onward and upward…