20191021 Swim #29

In hindsight, it would seem that a 2 hour, 2.9 mile swim in addition to the hour-long swims every weekday was not a good idea.

Despite the 2 day break over the weekend, I was still feeling the after-effects when I went for today’s swim this morning. And I’m still feeling the effects now. I’m a little concerned that the muscle fatigue might be sufficient to curtail my swimming plans over the next few weeks.

I’m going to try to keep up the hour-long swim for the next few days but I might have to cut it back a little if the fatigue, particularly in my right shoulder, doesn’t ease soon.

Today’s swim started slowly. I shared a swimming lane with someone who swam alternate lengths either with a slow breaststroke or standing, walking crawl. Pacing is not my strong point so this helped me ease into the swim.

I still managed the hour but only completed 92 lengths. Someway short of my usual 98ish.

I guess I’ll know better whether I can swim an hour a day and recuperate from a long swim at the same time in a few days.

I’m up to just over 37 miles and £70 sponsorship. You can sponsor me at http://justgiving.com/fundraising/theaardvark-2019-channel-swim.

20191018 Swim #28 – 2 hours & (nearly) 2 miles

Welllllll shiiiiiiitttt……..

Today I learned that my body lies to me. Not just little lies but big fat fibs. 5 minutes into today’s swim and it was telling me that another swim so soon after yesterday’s 76 minutes was a really bad idea. I was too fatigued to even do 15 minutes, let alone the 1 hour that I had planned.

10 minutes later, after I’d convinced myself and my aching arms that I wasn’t going to give up so easily and suddenly… POW! Not only was I OK after 15 minutes but I could swim in 30 minutes sets, instead of the usual 15. And when I hit the hour mark I felt fine to just keep on going.

At 90 minutes I started to flag a little, but I was close to a new personal best. I’d not swum for more than 90 minutes before, so I thought I’d do another 15. And then after 1¾ hours… well….. I was so dammed close to 2 hours and just far enough from flaking out in the water and drowning that it had to be worth a go. So I carried on.

2 hours (well, as near as makes no difference). From the moment the pool session opened to the moment the staff were clearly waiting to get it ready for the next session. 188 lengths. 4.7km. 2.9 miles.


I need a few days off after that, so it’s a good job that’s the end of week 6 and I’m not swimming, or doing much else, over the weekend. That brings me to the halfway point in terms of time.

If you’re as impressed with my performance as I am (I’m frankly shocked tbh – who knew I was capable of that?) then maybe you could see your way to saying a little “congratulations” in the form of a donation to Aspire, the spinal injury charity, on my fundraising page. :¬)

I’m currently 25th in the leaderboard for distance swum by participants of the challenge, up 3 places from midweek. https://www.aspirechannelswim.co.uk/leaderboards/individuals/order/distance/p3#board

20191017 Swim #27

Another 10-minute wait for the leisure centre to open to I could be pool-side at 7am-on-the-dot to start to my #AspireChannelSwim because I had to commute into the office immediately afterwards. After yesterday’s 45 min swim I added an extra 15 mins today to keep the 1 hour average going.

I’m definitely feeling the cumulative effects of swimming an hour every day. The fatigue level this morning was quite high. The last 15 minute set of lengths was tough and I only just managed to get to 76 mins without having to quit early.

122 lengths over 76 minutes is bang on the 96 – 98 lengths per hour pace, but I’d only managed 42 at the half-hour mark, so it’s my early pace that’s slowing me down.

20191016 Swim #26 – Halfway!

Between 9th November, when the challenge started, and 1 December, when it finishes, I think I can get in 52 swims (not on weekends or holidays). So that means today’s 26th swim is halfway through!

And, at halfway in I’m almost exactly halfway to my 60-mile target.

I had a train to catch this morning so I had to drag myself out of bed a 6:15 to ready to get in the pool at bang on 7am. And I only had time for 45 minutes of swimming. I managed to fit 74 lengths in, which is still just a smidge short of a 100-lengths-an-hour pace.

I’ve not really talked about the change in my fitness level that I’ve seen so far. After 5½ weeks of swimming, on average, 66 lengths a day for 5 days a week I am definitely noticing an increase in my stamina and, if judged by my swimming speed, my strength. I’m not losing weight but I am getting slimmer. My shoulders muscles are bulking up and I’ve developed pectoral muscles that I’ve never had before. My thigh muscles have also bulked up significantly but I suspect that might be more to do with the 93 mile walk a few weeks ago. I recently increased my protein intake with a whey-protein shake every day and that has improved my recovery time and, I think, the pace at which my fitness in improving. It also seems to have stopped the muscle aches and cramps I was getting overnight.

Today I discovered that there’s a leaderboard on the Aspire Channel Swim website. Whilst I’m down in the mid-900s in terms of money raised, I’m up in the top 30 for distance swum. https://www.aspirechannelswim.co.uk/leaderboards/individuals/order/distance/p3#board

I’m not entirely sure that discovering this was a good thing.

I’m undertaking this challenge for 2 reasons. Primary for me is the physical fitness aspect, creating a challenge that keeps me undertaking physical activity and pushing my fitness. However, it’s also a fundraiser for the Aspire charity and raising money keeps me motivated. I’d be very grateful if people would sponsor me at https://justgiving.com/fundraising/theaardvark-2019-channel-swim

20191015 Swim #25

Today’s #AspireChannelSwim felt much easier than yesterday’s but somehow I ended up doing 2 fewer lengths in the same period.

I wonder if the issue is not so much variance in my stamina or fatigue from day to day but an inability to pace myself consistently.

I’m now ahead of the target to achieve 60 miles by 1 Dec for the first time and I guess I need to decide whether I
– continue to do as much as I have been to build up a buffer in case I’m unable to swim at some point
– set a higher target; or
– start to dial back how much I’m swimming every day.

You can follow my progress at http://theaardvark.co.uk/2019/10/aspire-channel-swim-2019-progress/

I’m undertaking this swim to raise funds for the Aspire Spinal Injuries charity and you can donate at https://justgiving.com/fundraising/theaardvark-2019-channel-swim

20191014 Swim #24

Today’s #AspireChannelSwim was tough. My arms were aching within minutes and I was out of breath after 15. It’s not unusual for me to feel fatigued quickly. I usually stop after 10 lengths for a quick drink and shake out but it would normally pass shortly after that. Today I felt fatigued for well over half an hour with my lungs and abdomen burning.

Thankfully it did pass eventually and I pushed on to the 1-hour target I’d set myself. Somehow, despite, all that (or maybe a failure to pace myself properly was actually the cause of all that) I managed 98 lengths in that time. 10 more than I’ve previously done in an hour.

Aspire Channel Swim 2019 Progress

I’m taking part in the 2019 #AspireChannelSwim from 9th November to 1 December. The challenge as set by the Aspire charity is to swim the width of the English Channel (22 miles). However, I realised early on I was going to get this done early on so I’ve set myself a personal target of at least 60 miles and maybe 66 miles.

The chart below shows my progress to date in the red with my 60-mile target in yellow.

If you would like to sponsor me in this challenge you can do so at my Just Giving page.

Aspire Channel Swim Week 5

It’s the end of week 5 of my #AspireChannelSwim. I managed just over 2 miles this morning (134 lengths) in 90 minutes, which is my furthest so far.
I’ve passed the charity-set target of 22 miles (the width of the English Channel) and I’m coming up on 27 miles. I should be on target to complete 60 miles by 1st Dec.
You can see my progress at https://www.aspirechannelswim.co.uk/user/u/41278 and there’s a link there to the fundraising page. :¬)

Two Saints Way Day 1

Day 1 was a 20-mile walk from Lichfield to Stafford, from The Church of St Chad to The Collegiate Church of St. Mary. I started the walk with the traditional cross on the forehead with water from the holy well at St. Chad’s. I didn’t explode, so I’m fairly sure I’m not a vampire or a hellspawn.

The weather couldn’t make its mind up today and I’d had my raincoat on and off 3 times before I’d even left the starting point. After a couple of hours of stopping every 15 minutes to put my coat on as it started raining or take it off as the sun came out and I started to cook I decided I would just leave it and get wet. Every time I did that, of course, the rain would come down heavier or last longer and the coat would come out. Until 15 minutes later when the rain stopped and I started to poach in my jacket.

The first few hours were mostly uphill from Lichfield through Cross in Hand Lane, up the Side of Gentleshaw Common and on to Castle Ring, where I did a short Facebook Live Video

After all the rain the ground was damp and I had to take a detour around a flooded river walking into Stafford. By 2/3 through I was incredibly grateful I’d thought to pack backup shoes and multiple pairs of dry socks. I stopped at the Barley Mow for a “hydration break” and to change my footwear.

A photo showing The River Sow bursting its banksThe route for last few hours passed along the side of the River Sow. However, this had greatly exceeded its natural banks so I had to follow a planned diversion for such occasions (unlike when I’d come along on my practice hike and just waded through shin-deep water).

So I came into Stafford shortly after that after about 8.5 hours and 47,000 steps. I was early enough to get to a shop and buy my self an extra backup paid of walking shoes, before booking into tonight’s B&B and going for dinner with my excellent support crew.

Throughout this walk I’m trying to raise awareness and, ultimately, funds for a Climate Emergency project run by some very good friends up in Great Bernera, Isle of Lewis. They’ve set aside half of their croft farm of carbon, offsetting, climate improvement and biodiversity projects.

Everyone’s familiar with the principle of “carbon offsetting”. If you do something with a large carbon footprint when why not help to fund a project that seeks to absorb that CO2 back into biomass (plants and trees). These guys do that in the form of a “Tree Treasury Certificate”. You give them £20 they will plant trees in the UK, not in some remote South-American location but in the UK. (and they’ll also use some of the money to fund additional tree planting in Brazil). They need to hit £15k of fundraising by 7pm on Sunday or none of the fundraising happens. Please, go buy a Tree Treasury Certificate and tell them I sent you. https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/carbonguilt