So much has happened since the end of november! I really am fairly useless at diarising… It would have been priceless to have had a script of any one of my sessions attempting strength training with Duncan, but I will admit that it would have been hard to verbalise the gurning. I did surprise myself, though, with being able to do all sorts of bizarre exercises and even get to the stage where I could almost say I enjoyed the process- occasionally. Mostly when I was giggling so much it actually helped my chin up attempts. Who knew?

Duncan was great and the weight training has certainly paid off- girls guns are us! There has been a down side, though. Hypermobility and strength trainig are not easy bedfellows and it was always going to be a fine path to tread to gain muscle mass with out triggering RSI. The main issue is that because my ligaments and tendons are looser, my muscles take up the slack of holding me together- which is a fine balance…. Not enough exercise and the muscles are too weak and your joints fall apart; too much strength in the muscles and they end up putting strain on the tendons thereby triggering tendonitis; too much stretching and the ligaments are over stretched and slacken even more, leaving your joints so weak you are prone to hypermobilisation- not quite dislocation but it’s not fun I can tell you! So, I reached my limit with strength training. Mission accomplished. I bulked up and stretched my muscle building capacity so I now have more area for glycogen stores and there is more of me to get covered in LARD!

It was a good laugh, though, learning to giggle my way through burpees and pull ups; perform squats and drop downs with Dylan on my shoulders- and the things I can now do with a wooden planter put Alan Titchmarsh to shame.
Somewhere in the midst of all that grunting, I whisked myself and Dylan off to South Africa. Robben Island beckoned only 7.5 km off the coast of Cape Town, but the sea was so wild that a couple of brief run ins and splash abouts were all that were possible. We climbed Table Mountain and I discovered there was a reservoir at the top…. so Byron carried Dylan round the perimeter- bless him, Dylan managed to climb table mountain at the ripe old age of 3- and I swam across. It was only about 750m but it felt so good to be going for it- not checking depth or exit the other side, just trusting my ability and letting the swimming just happen.

I think that sums up what has been hardest this winter- the consistent training that has taken me away from the reason I love swimming. I have needed to train, and the swim sets and speed/stamina stuff is vital, but I found myself a little disillusioned at the monotony. This is where sports psychology kicks in. Keep finding reasons to keep going- set yourself goals along the way; challenges and targets that lead to the end result and stave off the ennui. There was always going to be a lull at some point in an 18month training programme- and after completing my first challenge of the 22miles in 2 sessions in a month, I was told to go do something not swimming to keep myself fresh!

So I did the worlds highest bungee jump. I was initially wary due to the hypermobility, but as Rob, my sports therapist said, it’s not whether you ought to do it or not, but how we support you through it! And I used ut as a meditative experience- imagining looking out at the Channel and coping with the adrenelin helped enormously. It ended up being a lovely sensation: it’s 216m high and you fall for 5 seconds so you actually get time to become aware of the sensation of falling. Then weightless ness before falling again. It became such a freeing feeling, although I’m far from an adrenelin junky, it is easy to tag the jump into the whole gamut of things that are preparing me for the swim.
The sponsor seeking also took a huge back seat. In fact, it stalled. It’s hard to keep the momentum going when I’ve still got to work, deal with Dyl and train. The admin side becomes one thing too many. The initial buzz when people hear I’m swimming the channel has died down- and the belief in me was a huge lift; but that has gone quiet- not that people no longer believe I can, but it’s just a continuum thing. I’m still swimming. Same old same old… and life has taken over. I need a PA! Multi tasking is one thing, but I just want to enjoy swimming.

Moan over….I’ll finish my waffle in another post as I’ve had my medical and swam a kilometer in feb in the sea.