The pools are open, the pools are open!

As of April 12th, England opened up a little and while many were celebrating being able to go to the shops, get their hair done or go out for a drink and a meal, for me the big change was that the pools would open. Since December last year my only chance to swim had been a rather chilly but glorious dip in the Mediterranean early March, and seeing how crap I am at swimming, and with IM Vitoria only 3 months away, the opportunity to jump in the pool couldn’t come soon enough.

Swimming in Javea in March
Swimming in the Mediterranean in March

As I have mentioned before, I haven’t regularly resided in UK for many years, therefore I have had very few opportunities to swim in pools here. In Japan where I have spent the majority of the last 30 years, there are very strict rules on swimming – some of the more common ones being all swimmers must wear a cap (even if totally bald), no tattoos allowed (some of the more progressive gyms will allow you in if you cover with rash guard or sticky plaster etc), no jewellery (this includes sports watches such as Garmin, as well as the more obvious earing, necklaces etc), plus a whole host of others rules including public pools forcing everyone to clear the pool for 5 minutes every hour so they can check for any dead bodies. In Spain things are much more relaxed although rather strangely swim caps are still a must and both users and the life guards seem rather confused on whether you should be swimming up and down in your own little corridor or in a circular motion as a group. In eastern Europe there seems very little in the way of serious swimming, which was proven by me being considered as a strong fast swimmer there – which I am most definitely not! Also the pools are rather on the cold side (to save money), no one really seems to consider safety/supervision a necessity, and rules are non-existent, so trying to swim up and down laps can be rather frustrating with kids/housewives/elderly etc deciding they are going to play/swim/congregate across the width of the pool.

Anyway, as I am now in UK, I excitedly joined the local gym online, pre-booked my hour swimming as required in these times of social distancing, masked up and full of trepidation headed to  the pool… then once arrived, basically walked straight through the doors, straight into the changing rooms and straight into the water. No one was checking if I’d booked or not, no one seemed over worried about masks or social distancing (it was reasonably quiet) and much to my surprise, once I settled my “pool nerves”, I managed to swim quite comfortably without issue for an hour. It would seem that my 4 months enforced absence, hadn’t had much of an effect (which on reflection, probably isn’t such a good thing, as it would seem to allude to the fact that despite 10 years of swimming, my level still hasn’t progressed much past beginner). I added in an hour gym afterwards, then came home smiling and happy, feeling just a little bit more confident that I will be able to complete the Ironman in July

Training Week Four – week beginning 12th April 2021

Weight:  Monday 12th April – 82.8kg

Run: Total 5hrs 04mins. 3 sessions.  Long run 20.1km

Bike: Total 7hrs 30mins. 4 sessions all indoors. Long Bike 4:15hrs/131km

Swim: Total time 1hr 55mins. 3 sessions. Long swim 2km

Walk: 0

S&C : 3 x 60mins gym

Monday was all about the swim, as written about above, followed by 60 minutes strength training. Tuesday was my normal struggle to get the body back into cardio mode, I always feel so damn tired, but somehow I managed a decent 10km across the fields in the afternoon, followed by some pretty nasty 90 minutes intervals on the bike trainer in the evening. Every time I push myself through a training session I feel so much better, and it reminds me why I do this (crazy) sport!

I had Wednesday down for another swim and gym session, and was happy to hit the 2km mark in the pool, before getting into leg day in the weight room. Went home and did a final 1hr45 minute on the Kickr – I am following the TrainerRoad Ironman program, and do whatever that tells me to do as far as the bike, so its always a bit of surprise what is on the menu for the day! (I follow my own plan for run and swim, basically following what has worked well in previous years).

Thursday was run day again, and I decided I would add some faster work as, although my run endurance seems to be coming back, my speed is pathetic, it really is super slow (a good 1-2 mins per km slower compared with pre injury). I headed to a nearby park which offers reasonably flat 500m laps, and put in 8km of faster running. Meh, still pathetic, I checked in Strava segments and my efforts were still in the bottom 10%, but at least I managed to cut a minute off my average recent pace. Friday was swim/gym again, which kinda caught up with me somewhat and I was so tired afterwards I took the executive decision to not do evening bike training, instead I stretched, used my fantastic Normatec leg massagers, and generally took it easy.

I decided that I would try to pace things over the weekend so I could get some endurance work in, without killing myself. This meant a “slightly shorter distance than planned” 20km run on Saturday, which however still left me feeling a bit too tired, so I did very little the rest of the day. Sunday I was supposed to go out for a long bike, but a combination of low HRV/high RHR and plenty of prevarication, meant I missed the opportunity (I avoid riding on the roads here during busier times of day, the potholes make it impossible to keep a safe line if traffic is passing). Instead I had late breakfast, then an early lunch followed by a nap on the sofa. On waking I felt much more positive, confirmed by a quick check of my vitals, so I jumped on the indoor trainer and followed the plan given to me by Trainer Road – a 4hour 15 minutes odyssey which in all honesty wasn’t that bad, had lots of fun stuff to watch and the French doors wide open, giving the feeling of being outside.

As a final note. I had decided not to bother posting weekly updates as, let’s not beat about the bush here, I am no JK Rowling and this is all pretty boring stuff. Instead I thought I would just pop out the odd “interesting” update as and when seemed suitable. However a friend called me on it, noticing I hadn’t posted and remind me that this is a way of keeping myself accountable. So here it is Mr Mac, this ones goes out especially for you 😊 (and yes, you’re totally right, so thank you!)


7 thoughts on “The pools are open, the pools are open!

  1. Great report, Richard! I am glad that you stuck to it wrote it all down. Now we all know that you are in the game. And congratulations on your 2km swim and 4:15 on the trainer. Even if I was was watching a Bob Dylan special, I could not have managed that.

    Liked by 1 person

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