Friday, 3 January 2020

New Year CSS 2020

I'm starting 2020 with only a few niggles in my arms and legs so really have no reasons not to make good headway with my training. Over 2019 I took some backwards steps with both running and swimming. I hope that I've worked on strength and flexibility enough to have a stronger base for this year and can complete some of my aspirations.

This morning I completed the trials for a CSS estimate, knowing that I'd be slow.

I'm behind my CSS pace for the last few years. However perhaps that means I will be able to use it for training as some previous paces have been unattainable! My pace within the sets was fairly consistent so that might indicate that it's realistic.

A SwimSmooth-recommended set for CSS training is:

Baby Bear
2x 100m + 20 seconds rest (or 1 beep)
1x 200m + 20 seconds rest (or 1 beep)

Mama Bear
2x 100m + 20 seconds rest (or 1 beep)
1 x 300m + 20 seconds rest (or 1 beep)

Papa Bear
2x 100m + 20 seconds rest (or 1 beep)
1 x 400m + 20 seconds rest (or 1 beep)

Saturday, 14 December 2019

Garmin Swim Battery change

My V1 swim watch has been very unreliable for my last few swims. Stopping, data loss, time reseting itself etc but no 'low battery' indicator! Also the display has been crisp and contrast-rich which made me think the battery was fine.

Anyway, today I'd got the box of CR2032 in my hands so swapped it over.

Looks like it has been 11 months since the last replacement so perhaps not unsurprising. Let's hope the fault is resolved...

Sunday, 6 October 2019


My swimming is improving (I did write going forwards...) in style if not in endurance or speed. At least my current coach has told me that I'm starting to look like a swimmer! In fairness I do generally feel more in tune with the water and frequently notice that I'm going through a checklist of at least arm entry site and angle, front-quadrant timing, pelvis tilt, ankle position, hip rotation as I'm swimming. Previously I was often thinking about just keeping going.

I'm still struggling with kick drill lengths and finding them exceptionally tiring.

Last week I was re-introduced to tumble turns, starting with a basic tumble away form all walls. It took me  few attempts to realise that being in a tight ball is pretty critical. The rotation made me feel dizzy. After 4 or 5 successful tumbles I moved towards the wall to start to learn the push-off phase. I had to stop though as I felt nauseous. That lasted almost 48 hours. Since I've tested one tumble per swim to try to become accustomed to it. The thought of a tumble, actually half a rotation, every length makes me feel sick. A quick online search revealed that nausea is common for newcomers to tumble turns, so at least not unusual even if unpleasant.

Saturday, 28 September 2019

Night Hike to Oxstones

Over the last week or so I'd planned that last night would be a #microadventure as I'd be home alone (my wife was to be outdoors herself on a fundraising event for Cathedral Archer Project). The weather forecast was for repeated heavy showers throughout the day and night and I gradually decided to stay in the dry. By early evening though the forecast and rain radar suggested that the worst had passed over and there was a probability of some dry hours. No excuses! I rapidly packed the bare essentials and got out of the house 10 minutes before sunset. It was pretty gloomy.

Quite minimal but feeling substantial
I set my sights on Oxstones as an area within a few hours walk but decidedly in the countryside. I also know the path very well which should have been reassuring. It was a new moon and with dark clouds passing over, the paths were quite quickly in blackness and I resorted to my head torch.

I didn't need the signs nor map
For 2 hours I ascended, mostly on paths but occasionally on short stretches of road. The wooded areas were spooky, trees groaning and various animals shuffling in the undergrowth. The small area of ground illuminated by the head torch was supplemented by a peripheral zone of heightened awareness. In this zone my eye was drawn to newly-emerged mushrooms. I think I recognised shaggy ink caps but there were other, unknown to me, white species. At Houndkirk Road a dog walker came out of the gloom, the dogs' eyes visible first. I couldn't face the tree cover in Lady Cannings Plantation so stayed on the byway. From Limb Valley I'd been aware that the wind was becoming more obvious and by the time I'd reached Oxstones I couldn't find shelter on any aspect of the stones. I thought about stopping to make a hot drink or warm-up food but decided I was getting too cold. At that point I chose to abandon the night, even though there'd been no more than drizzle, and head for home, perhaps stopping to eat on the way.

I detoured towards Porter Clough thinking I might eat there but saw many car lights in the parking area with the sound of voices drifting towards me. I wasn't sure it would be safe to arrive alone. That was it then, back to home, direct route.

Welcoming lights but still an hour from a arm bed
The Norfolk Arms was tempting for a moment but a paused would have only delayed sleep at this point so onwards! Alongside the road my peripheral vision was drawn to a movement, and just in time I turned to see a badger scurry away from me across the road, arriving safely at the other side.

So this was a night hike rather than overnight bivvy but still a break from normality and a small challenge. Especially marching beside the looming trees. I walked just under 18km at a good pace having become accustomed to a heavier rucsac than usual. I wonder how I managed camping trips with rugged tents as a teenager?

Importantly I'd also noted the insecurity of being outside and slightly fearful of groups, and of needing to keep moving to stay warm. I was unusually thankful of being in a warm bed when I awoke finding it had rained heavily in the early hours of the morning.

Sunday, 1 September 2019

Review at end of August 2019

This spring was disappointing in terms of exercise as a niggling left achilles became an issue I felt needed rest (if nothing else) and my left arm (seeing pattern here?) was only barely coping with swimming.

By taking some months off running I think the heel is much improved. I'm now starting to bring back in running and I've managed 20 minutes in a single easy run and 17 or so as part of a 80 minute brisk walk. I'm aware of minor discomfort of this level of use but it seems to settle. I also moved to Altra zero drop, yet cushioned shoes, which feel less stressful than Vivobarefoot, whilst offering lots of toe space. I'm disappointed not to have been able to do multi-hour runs through the summer but I hope that I'll be ready for 2020.

In early summer I started with a new swimming teacher  who is very local which is a blessing. He's also a bit lower cost which means that I can have afford more frequent input. We're still consolidating many aspects of my stroke, I feel the most important is my head position when breathing but I'm not sure how to conquer that. I've only been to Hatfield a few times but have supplemented it with other lake, lido and sea swims and I'm getting more confident of my ability to manage a little cold and the vastness beyond indoor pools. I wonder if my notionally 'warm' Appkit wetsuit is a little large for me as I feel more flushing than I do with the rather tired HUUB, which therefore isn't as cold as I feared it might be.

The circuit sessions and recommended exercises from the physio are important adjuncts and even help when there is hedge trimming to be done.

Sunday, 25 August 2019

Pickering 2019

One again we've spent a week in Pickering.  The access to moorland, coast and in foul weather, York and Malton is a great combination for a break close to home. The weather was mixed, mostly changeable with occasional heavy showers until Friday when it was quite warm. Unusually there wasn't a day which was very wet and so we didn't visit York,


Regular readers will know that I'm gradually re-starting running after an achilles tendon issue and so I didn't do any major runs. I went out briefly early evening twice and was glad of the flatness around the town as that gave me an easy time and allowed me to run  for a few minutes longer,


I managed to fit in 3 swims. A basic internal session at Ryedale Swim and Fitness Centre which was great (for me) due to being nearly empty. I also managed to be at Helmsley Open Air Pool at opening time. The pool is freshly relined but the changing facilities are basic. Nonetheless it was lovely to swim under a blue sky in pleasantly warm water. Whilst I was there the pool became progressively busier and it became hard to swim repeated lengths as they don't have a lane system.

Finally we drove out to Northallerton and Ellerton Lake. The lake is a great resource and unlike most swimming lakes it's open practically all day, every day. I find the buoy layout very confusing but I suspect that is my problem and no-one seems very bothered about traffic so long as it's clockwise.

I managed just over 1500m, supposedly three full laps is a mile, with a fair few breaks to work out where I was going and due to being tired! I'm out of practice at swimming into the wind.


We did a variety of hikes including a short one on Sutton Bank and a longer one through Dalby Forest. We walked a fair way along Filey Beach, a few youngsters were paddling but even though the wind was slight I wasn't tempted as the sea is susceptible to poor quality, especially when there is heavy rain.

Thursday, 8 August 2019

Return to High Elbow

This isn't a sequel to a Wild West film but working on a better arm stroke. Getting an early catch and neater recovery. On Monday I was coached through some drills which felt at the limit of my arm movement. Eventually I understood the position for sculling.

Today I tried to apply that lesson. Keeping, entry, high elbow pull, hip rotation and neat recovery was a lot to think about especially when including the ever-useful breathing. I put a bit of physical and mental effort in for short sets. In one 67m set I worked quite hard, I was aware of slight tingling in my feet which I put down to too little breathing.

I was happy to nearly break the 2:00min/100m for a double length without a pull buoy. Fair enough, 2 lengths isn't 1000m or even 10km but it's a start.