Wow, I always seem to end up playing major catch up… I have done a couple of stress training sessions which are a bizarre thing to do to yourself…. like get only 2 hours sleep then put yourself through a gruelling 50min hard swim training, then dig the garden (ok, so the digging MAY have been a touch too much for my sleep deprived body to cope with). I also had an 8hr day massaging with out a break or gap, then did a 1 1/2 hour evening swim training full of lovely interval sets….mmmmm my favourite! So that is sleeplessness and lack of food covered, what else do I have in store for myself?

Oh, yes. The 13miler.

I needed to swim 11miles to complete my Aspire channel challenge in 2 sessions, but knowing I can do the distance with ease in 5 1/2 hours even in public swim time- and this time I had lane counters- I thought I’d bring a little spice to the day. I did sleep, and I did eat (although didn’t carbo load the day before), but I wanted to induce fatigue early for 2 reasons. 1) for a laugh…no. Not that. 1) to feel what it is going to be like to keep going way beyond tiredness and 2) to break my 10k slump.

I have noticed in my swims- whether in the pool or ocean- that I hit the wall after 10k- or about 3hours. It is not so much either physical or mental, but my stroke rate drops no matter the fuel intake, my mind doesn’t so much stray as get sluggish- and this ties in with the sort of time that the body switches to internal fuel consumption- starts to eat itself and hit the glycogen reserves. It varies slightly form person to person as to when this happens- 4-6hrs is the average. On longer swims I have noticed that the 1st hour sucks as I am flailing about, finding my rhythm and getting diatribe out of my head then the 2nd and 3rd hours fly by in gentle sequence of mental and physical awareness; but then the 4th hour drags and it feels like there is nothing I can do to spur myself on- but then about 4-41/2 hours, I pick up noticeably and at 6hours I am swimming as well and as fast as I was at 2hours.

I wanted to eliminate the possibility that the 10k slump was psychosomatic- or had become pure habit. I had taken to swimming half distances, and 10k comes at just about half way, so maybe I was getting caught in a rut, so I wanted to push myself into fatigue far earlier than 3hours to see if I could buoy myself through the physical trough.

So, the first hour, I swam warm up speed for 1/2 hour then sped up to medium pushing hard- my first lane counter came after an hour, so I was breathing hard when they got there. Then I kicked for glory- and surprised even myself- with the kick board I made 2.3k legs only in 50mins, then swam hard for 10mins to end the hour. Then I switched to the pull buoy. For 45mins. Then swam hard for 15mins.

I was not as tired as I thought I would be and the change of tack certainly helped the mental state. Truly mental, verging on plain daft. So, that was my first 3 hours gone, and I felt revved, so I did an hour of 15min split stroke- legs, arms, legs, arms. Then swam, and swam. And it was so settling to go full stroke. I didn’t notice a drop at all.
And I didn’t stop at 11miles- I kept going and thought 650 sounded a good round number…. 650 lenghts of a 33m pool. 7hrs 25mins. I still had power in my arms on the pull- I am so pleased that my training is showing- not that I thought it wouldn’t, but I was really pleased overall. I think Paul was, too. Maybe even a littel shocked that I came bouncing out of the changing rooms, feeling pretty fresh. My blood pressure was normal! Hazzah and hurrah. I rock!

There were some lessnons to be learned…Different people have different strengths. Choose your team wisely- lane counting is exhausting and I had one couple who were supposed to be taking turns but in their enthusiasm, they both stayed for 3 hours and in consequence, cocked up their counting. It made for a total mind bender, as there was a huge discrepancy and confusion- over 100 lengths out! I found I couldn’t concentrate once I learned there was a problem – when the next person took over- and I had to get it straight before I could relax- which meant that a lot of time was wasted in that hour, but I didn’t care about the distance by then, I knew I had it in the bag, but it was enough to throw me completely. I also discovered that not all energy gels are alike- the Torq ones I have used in the past are pretty gross, but the hammer ones I tried were gag makingly foul. Really hard to swallow. Won’t be going there again. And Nakd choc orange bars are GOOOOOOOD for solid fuel- easily palateable.

I was thrilled with the day; and the level of support and encouragement was awesome. I had food ready for myself at home and felt I was much better prepared for the rest of that day. HOWEVER, I must remember that whilst I do my long swims on my day off, it is not restful and working the nezt day is not a very good idea! I sank a packet of jaffa cakes between each client as I had no glycogen stores at all! I was stripped, but high. I didn’t crash until about 4pm the day after the swim. And then boy did I crash. for 2 days I felt flat and was goign through the motions of each day. I still need to work on a post event diet plan. I will have to have flapjacks and fruit and nut balls lying around as well as veg and pulse stews to eat every couple of hours.

I also had Duncan, henceforth to be known as ‘the evil one’ come on the thursday (the swim was monday) to ‘assess’ my strength training standard- like hell! Assess, my expanding derriere! If someone had shown me what I was expected to do, even without the swim, I would not have believed me physically capable. And yet, I did it! Hurrah! And that didn’t help recovery! Doh! So, for 3 weeks now (4 tomorrow) I am subjecting myself to the machinations of a twisted mind belonging to the evil one. It is working, I hasten to add. I have that impressive little ridge on the tricep to show for it. And more power in the water. My legs were always the strongest part of my stroke which, for long distance swimming is largely useless- more of a party trick- but now my arms are feeling so much better. I am hoisting my carcass aloft, dangling under a wooden frame that may as well be a gibbet and waving rain sodden wooden planters over my head…. Still, this is what I need if I am to stand a chance…Time to get serious!GRRRRR

Sarah has also eaten from the evil tree and has turned pilates into a workout. Sandfilled balls wafted about whilst balancing on a wobble board thingy? You have to be kidding me. I am getting used to humiliation and torment, so maybe by the time I get to the swim I will be used to others seeing me debase myself!

Am struggling with press releases and putting myself out there- thought I had it, but the time I have to focus on it is just not conducive to being good at it. And when I have the ideas or mental capacity, I’m busy being mum. Will have to crack that and soon!