The swim is VERY close now! So it's time for my training to start getting a bit more serious (hard!).
I've been quite happy with the way training has been going so far. I feel good. I don't look great. The amount of swimming I've been dong I should look like the incredible hulk! but as one of my colleges recently pointed out I'm "still built like a chopstick" haha but I'm in pretty good shape.
At the moment I'm attempting to swim 6 days a week and although it's not happening every week I'm still swimming 4-6 days a week on average which isn't too bad.
Now as far as my training goes I've been pretty much making it up as I go along. I've done a bit of research and spoken to a few people but mostly I've just done it myself. It has mainly consisted of swimming short and medium distances - between 200m and 1600m - as fast as I can. The idea being that it would build up my core fitness. I've been doing that now for around 9-10months and I think that it's been very helpful but I'm also well aware that it's time to add in some longer distance swimming (something I'm sure most people think I should probably have started adding in long before now?!)
Up until yesterday the longest distance I had swam was 128 length of a 25m pool which is 2 miles or 3.2km. Which might sound far but when you think that the channel is the equivalent of 1352 lengths - swimming in a straight line which of course you won't - then it's not very far at all!
I was at the pool yesterday to teach and so as I was already there and the pool was quite empty - I was under the false impression that it would be crazy busy on a Saturday - I thought I should have a swim. I didn't get in with any particular swim in mind. I have several different plans that I choose from and as I was warming up I decided that I should probably do the 160 length swim - 4 breast, 4 back, 4 back, 128 front, 8 front (sprint), 4 back, 4 back, 4 breast - as this is normally my Friday swim but being a bit lazy/hungry/pushed for time the day before I had done a 96 length swim - 4 breast, 4 back, 4 back, 64 front, 8 front (sprint), 4 back, 4 back, 4 breast - instead.
So I did my little warm up of breaststroke and backstroke and started on the 128 lengths frontcrawl. Only at some point, feeling pretty good, seeing that the pool was still quite empty and knowing that I didn't have any plans for the afternoon, I decided to keep swimming. Why not do 3miles - 192 lengths - instead? I haven't swam that far before but I know I'm more than fit enough to do so. So I kept on swimming. And then, as I was approaching the 3 mile mark I thought, why stop at 3 miles? Why not do 5 miles? And so that's what I did.
Yesterday I swam 5 miles or 8km without stopping which is 320 lengths of a 25m pool. And I felt pretty good while I was doing it! I felt like if I had the time - and wasn't feeling so bored haha - I would be able to do another 5 miles and then maybe another 5 miles after that. And I think the key to it is the not stopping. Because when I did finally complete the 5 miles and stop, I was feeling a little tired, very hungry - but I will feed when I'm doing the actual swim - and I could really feel my shoulders and triceps. I definitely felt like I had been through a work out. But I certainly wasn't beat!
It took me 2 hours 25 minutes and 43.11 seconds to complete 5 miles. Which isn't the most impressive time. I was swimming an average of 29mins per mile. Bearing in mind that I can do a mile in around 24mins, I know that even considering for slowing down as I go, I could easily knock 10, 15 maybe even 20mins off that time. However, more importantly than trying to do it as fast as I can is finding a pace that I can try and keep up for the whole of the swim! And I think that come the day of my big swim, that 28-29mins per mile might just be a pace that I can keep up for the whole way?
Writing this today I feel good about completing my first 5 mile swim. But I also have to remember that in just a couple of months or so, I will be attempting to swim 21+ miles in the sea! And so although 5 miles in a swimming pool sounds and feels pretty impressive, I need to make sure that - if I'm going to make it all the way to France - I keep pushing myself further and further!