Weight training with conventional weights is all well and good, but sometimes training can be mixed in with a job that needs doing.... like shifting rocks to build a rockery.
Somewhat annoyingly, a friend and I had only placed these rocks here within the last week. The idea of covering up a corner of the garden with them had not occurred to me at the time.... so I found myself shifting them for a second time in a few days.
Still, it's a good way to see the results of your efforts - unlike a session on the bench press.
Several hundred rocks later, a few grazed and scrapped fingers, and one aching back... and all finished.
Simon from FTImages sent me a CD full of images today, following my photo shoot last week. He must be good - Esta says I look young!
I'm now ready to get a banner made up, ready for the mini fund-raisers.
The benefits of corporate sponsorship extend further than the immediate monetary donations, as I'm beginning to see already. The advantage of being able to access resources and connections is also invaluable.
HallmarkHulme recently had hosted a golfing day with Worcester Warrior legend Craig Gillies, who is currently celebrating his testimonial year. Simon Fall-Taylor from FTImages was there as photographer, and mentioned my challenge to Craig. As it happens, Craig is supporting Acorns as part of his testimonial year, He suggested I get in touch, and gave Simon his email address to pass on to me.
If all goes to plan, Craig is hoping to be present at my first mini fund-raiser, the 1000 press-up challenge. Dates have yet to be confirmed, but I'm hoping that the first challenge will be in the next few weeks or so, subject to venue, and now Craig's, availability.
We have recently moved house, and are in the process of 'making it ours'. One of the many tasks is to create a kitchen/diner. It occurred to me during the week that I am not attempting to remove the supporting wall in the house on my own, nor will I be attempting to fit a new kitchen single-handedly. For both tasks, I'm hiring professional people.
So why am I not doing the same for a massive task like swimming the Channel? To be ignoring this issue seemed to be inviting myself to fall into every classic pitfall that many unsuccessful Channel swimmers must fall into.
Reality check: Get professional help!
So, I have been in contact with Dr. Julie Bradshaw. Julie holds multiple world records for open water swimming, and has completed the Channel crossing twice - once at the age of 15, and subsequently completing the distance in butterfly! Julie has spent 35 years in the business of swimming, and runs a company called GetSet4Success.
Who better to coach me?
My challenge made the local business news:
Hopefully this will be the first of many mentions, and the remaining corporate sponsorship I need will begin to roll in.
Please do contact me if you are interested in offering your support.
The support for my challenge is slowly gathering momentum. The 'slowly' part is actually ideal. I don't want a huge flurry of activity and interest now, only to find it fades before Christmas, and becomes boring by Easter.
But I do need to get the message out there and continue to encourage additional corporate sponsorship.
HallmarkHulme have been great. Becky arrange for me to have a photo shoot with Simon from FTImages, and the pictures will be used in an imminent press release by HallmarkHulme. In addition to this, I will use the photos on a banner I'm having created, and this will advertise the swim when I do my mini fundraisers. The first of these challenges, 1000 press-ups in an hour, will be scheduled as soon as the banner can be produced - which should be a matter of days.
Watch this space!
So this blog starts off by complaining about the summer we've finally had after all these years. Ironic.
I love the sun. I'm typically out in the garden whenever the sun comes out, no matter what the calendar says about it only being February, etc. But our decent summer has had a drawback as far as my swimming training has been going - and that is the fact that it has heated the water up so very nicely.
All my outdoor training to date has been in pools and ponds unusually heated to around 20 - 22 degrees. That's as warm as many indoor pools. And it's no good for acclimatisation.
I came to fully realise that last point on Monday night.
This recent dip in temperatures has seen the water temperature plummet accordingly. When I jumped into the Hampstead Lido pool on a chilly Monday night, the shock took my breath away. As mentioned previously, the pool is around 60 meters long. Putting my head in the water to begin front crawl was akin to sticking it into a tight vice. It hurt. A lot. I found I had to swim a few stokes of front crawl, until I couldn’t take the pain any more, then switch to breast stroke until the ache in my head diminished to the point at which I could submerge it again.
It took me three lengths before I was acclimatised enough to continue with just front crawl.
The pool was practically empty, but whilst I was struggling to get used to the cold, one wimp (aka sane person) cruised past me in a wet suit. No such luxuries for me if I want a fully ratified Channel crossing.
I ploughed up and down, trying to keep my mind off the cold, and on the techniques of TI swimming. Reach, glide, relax,
My body let me stand 45 minutes of this torture. Weak, frozen legs barely allowed me to clamber out of the pool. A deep shivering set in immediately. I was cold to the core. For some illogical reason I have yet to analyse, I thought it best not to warm up in a shower, but to cope with the cold instead. By the time I was at the train station, waiting for a warm vehicle to begin to take me home, I looked like a drug addict going cold turkey. I was shaking uncontrollably, and probably looking quite miserable.
The really worrying thing was, the water turned out to be 15 degrees. That’s about the same temperature the Channel will be at. And I’ll have to cope with that for a lot longer than 45 minutes.
Some serious acclimatisation is still needed.
No one said this was going to be easy!
It's time to learn to swim!
Quite a ridiculous statement, in many ways, at this point in preparation for a Channel swim. But thanks to a new friend and work colleague, Alan Kok, from Singapore, I have been introduced to the concept of Total Immersion swimming. Essentially, it revolutionises everything most of us were taught about how to swim.
To see what I mean, take a look at this video: Click here
Captured by the possibility of this almost effortless style, I bought the book by the pioneer of Total Immersion (or TI), Terry Laughlin, determined to learn how to swim this way myself.
The book spend seven chapters describing the benefits of slaking off our bad swimming habits, and why TI is a more practical application of the laws of physics. It's impossible to argue with. Chapter eight then begins a series of 'drills', designed at teaching your body to accept these new and alien movements. It's about 'muscle memory', training yourself to perform these movements instinctively.
BUT.... I failed utterly at the drills, based on the fact that drill one is all about floating in a balanced position on your back. My legs always sink like stones, resulting in a very frustrating experience, but not daunting my desire to swim TI style.
So instead, I decided to simply try and mimic the movements shown in the video, and described at length in the book. For two and a half hours (admittedly less than the four I had planned), I diligently ensured I was reaching forward, rolling onto my side, angling my body downwards to achieve a balanced stance in the water, and rolled my hips to produced the swing delivered by my arms.
I discovered that my laps of Hampstead pond had decreased from ten minutes to eight. I initially thought this was due to me being fresh, so I decided to swim three laps without a break. I was still at eight minutes. And yet, with regards to physical effort, I felt like I was strolling. It was mentally tiring, certainly, and required utter concentration, lest my muscles instinctively try and revert to movements they were familiar with. Moreover, those muscles were being used in slightly different ways. They began to ache.
After 2.5 hours I estimated I had completed six km. My back muscles were showing signs of fatigue, and maintaining the correct style was becoming difficult. My lap time was dropping as a result, and I decided to take the advice of the author and quit whilst I was ahead. To continue would effectively mean practising bad habits, and this would undermine all of the muscle training I had just done.
TI certainly seems to work. Using muscles differently is always a challenge at first. The trick is to make new movements become natural and usual ones by means of regular repetition.
So today I'm off for another practice.... in my continuation of learning how to swim. A
As with everything, training has to fit in around work and family.... and in my case, moving house!
I had planned today's four hour swim from Monday, based on the need to return home to sign the house contracts. So it is purely coincidental that today also happens to be glorious sunshine, with predicted temperatures in London of 28 degrees C.
That will have its good and bad points.
It's bad, because I simply cannot expect the sun to be that warm next year, nor the water as pleasant and calm as it will be today. Also, there is a good chance the pond will be crowded (though as the kids are back at school, maybe not?)
But hey, the Channel swim is a while off, and I have winter to endure yet, so I may as well enjoy the sun whilst it lasts. Four hours is still going to be a long time, sunny or not!
It will be the furthest and the longest I have ever swum for....
I'm delighted to say that HallmarkHulme have offered financial assistance towards the logistical overheads of my Channel swim.
I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks to Rebecca Widdowson of HallmarkHulme for the generous contribution.
All donations towards the logistical costs are made with the full knowledge that these monies will be contributing towards ensuring the event goes ahead, as opposed to being donated directly to Acorns.
One time soldier, part-time author, full-time training manager, husband and father.