Day 38 of the Great Big Marathon Swim Adventure: A week of getting up at 5:30 – plus nutrition, training plans and the thing about sprints

This is close to what my daily smoothie breakfast looks like, err, sometimes...just imagine about three glasses of that in a big Nalgene bottle. (CC Image:  Zoelizabeth via Wikimedia Commons)
This is close to what my daily smoothie breakfast looks like, err, sometimes…just imagine about three glasses of that in a big Nalgene bottle. (CC Image: Zoelizabeth via Wikimedia Commons)

Tomorrow, Friday, will mark the first week of getting up at 5:30 am, driving 45 minutes to the pool, then getting a subway to work every morning.

The initial euphoria has worn off, as was to be expected. That has advantages, too: Getting up at 5:30 still is a challenge, but my body clock woke me just before the alarm today and I actually felt like I’d finished sleeping (instead of interrupting my sleep).

It is simple, really: the single biggest benefit of hitting the pool first thing is the fact that I make sure I get my swim in for the day. Boom. The important other benefits I have already written about – they are ongoing of course …and they are the main reason why I intend to keep doing this.

With the new routine locking in, I can focus on the next items: nutrition and an actual training plan for instance. Whilst I will avoid any strict plans, simply because that would remove much of the pleasure and feeling of freedom I get from swimming, I need a modicum of a training schedule to improve my times and endurance. After all, the goal is to swim a 5k Open Water race in a few months and a 10k race next year (2016). So far, I have just lurked around a few websites and forums (instead of doing actual research), and they confirmed to me that I should add some sprints to the mix.

So on two days this week, I played with sets of sprints. This morning, I warmed up for 300meters, then swam a straight 2k in 33:06 minutes, then added some mixed kick drills. With that under my belt, I put on the paddles, grabbed the pull buoy and with both equipped did a set of 12x50ms. On average I swam the 50m in 40secs, then took a breather of about 10secs, then hit the water again. I tried to increase the stroke rhythm, which is challenging with paddles, but it felt good (as in painful thus effective). I hope this will help me build strength and increase my “cruising” speed over longer distances.

Overall, I swam 3300m – 131 laps – in 54:30 minutes with a SWOLF of 33 (against my usual 35, for what it’s worth). And I burned 867kcals apparently – though the pasta I had for lunch more than made up for that I fear.

Speaking of nutrition: I am drinking a lot less tea and coffee with the new routine, and boy do I love my liquid breakfasts! Lunch is usually quite healthy, too. But man I need to pay more attention to what else I eat throughout the day, and stay away from the snacks after dinner in particular.