Little running, no cycling but some swimming

This is my first post since returning from the Alps and from a training perspective, things haven’t been ideal.

Working for a florist takes its toll at this time of year with 3 peak events within 3 months (Christmas, Valentines Day and Mothers Day). The extra hours needed to ensure that these events go smoothly means that something has to give and that tends to be training. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work well with the spring events I’ve got lined up.

In the last month, I’ve done little real running to speak of and any chance of long runs has been squished. I really need to get out and do some long runs if I’ve a hope of completing or even getting to the start line of the Brighton Marathon on the 6th April. Before then, I’ve got two other races to focus on too (Reading Half Marathon and Eastleigh 10K) although by virtue of the fact that they are shorter races, there’s more chance of completing enough runs to get to the start line in reasonable shape.

In order to put some miles under my belt for Brighton, I’ve set myself the following long run goals for the next 7 weeks:

  • Week 1: 15km (20km)
  • Week 2: 20km (25km)
  • Week 3: 15km (30km)
  • Week 4: 35km
  • Week 5: 25km
  • Week 6: 15
  • Week 7: race

Week 4 looks very challenging and I may have to make week 3 more of an intermediate distance between 20km and 35km as shown in backets. That’s if I get the time to do those long runs.

I’ve not set foot on my bike (or should I say bum on saddle) on the road since the Wiggle Sportive last year! I simply haven’t found the time. Must, must, must find the time!

However, things are going better with my swimming and that’s entirely down to the great Southampton Tri Club sessions. Due to other commitments, I’ve not been to as many as I’d like but did manage to make two of the sessions last week; the Wednesday morning session and the Saturday morning session which I’ve not done before. The later was really good and I felt as if I was making good progress.

That feeling was short lived though after attending Monday evening’s session at the Quays. Due to a small number of swimmers in lanes 1 and 2 (slow and intermediate respectively), I was moved up to lane 2 to join Donna and another lady. Our instructor was Steve Cooke who was the instructor for my first STC swim session.

We started off with 2 x 100m front crawl warmup and then did various with paddles, fins and catchup before doing 2 x 200m front crawl. I’m not sure why but I felt like I’d lost all my technique. Steve picked up on two aspects of my technique that were in need of work. These were bilateral breathing and early vertical forearm. Neither of these issues came as any surprise as I’ve known I struggle to breath bilaterally (e.g. to each side) since I returned to the pool about 18 months ago. I’m not entirely sure what the issue is but it could be a combination of the following:

  • too little rotation on my left hand side
  • not creating a bow wave and trough in which to breath on my left hand side
  • feeling the need to breath every second stroke

However, I’m going to work at this so that I feel confident breathing bilaterally as I know it’ll make my stroke more balanced and help in open water swimming too.

As for early vertical forearm, I’ve been working on this over the last few weeks but it’s clear there’s still more work to do. It’s something I do when concentrating and not tired but tend to lose it towards the end of a session. Again, it’s a weakness and one I will work on.

Having said all of the above and although I was disappointed in my ability at the session, I was swimming faster than ever before and hit SWOLF scores of 42-43 for the front crawl sets (without paddles or fins) which is a big improvement. This appears to be due to getting quicker (between 5 and 15 seconds per 100m) and needing fewer strokes. With improved technique, more strength and with more weight loss, a sub-40 SWOLF seems achievable and that’s definitely my next goal.

With STC help (hopefully I won’t be relegated to lane 1 next week) and more practice, I can hopefully work on the technique. I’ve also bought ‘Swimming Anatomy‘ which is a great book of lots of exercises to improve strength for swimming. I’m incorporating these into daily or bi-daily strength and conditioning sessions at home which will hopefully help turn my weedy looking body that’s plagued me all my life into something looking slightly more athletic. If I can regain control of my ‘comfort’ and boredom eating, I may be able to lose some weight too and thereby lose the flubber that I carry around my waist! In fact, I’ve just done a waist measurement.. 39 inches! Scary. Want that to be 4-5 inches less and that’ll mean focusing on eating properly and cutting out the Fruit Corner yoghurts! ARGH!!!

To save me losing it, here’s a half distance triathlon plan.

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