Kein leises Servus: Wie ich mich in der aktuellen MK verabschiede – und wo man sich bewirbt, um selber Chefredakteur zu werden

Anmerkung nach Druckgang der letzten Ausgabe: Ein herzliches Dankeschön für die vielen netten Grüße und Glückwünsche! Vergelt’s Gott. In der Süddeutschen Zeitung (SZ) hat Kollege Jakob Wetzl berichtet: “Von München in die Welt

In einer guten Stunde geht sie in Druck, die 30. Ausgabe der Münchner Kirchenzeitung im Jahr 2015. Und damit auch mein Abschied als Chefredakteur. Hier der Wortlaut im Editorial auf Seite 1, das passender Weise “Grüß Gott” überschrieben ist:30_01_Titel

Mit diesen Zeilen sage ich Ihnen nicht nur Grüß Gott, sondern auch Pfia Gott: Nach knapp drei Jahren werde ich meine Rolle als Chefredakteur der MK in wenigen Wochen verlassen, um eine neue Herausforderung anzupacken.

Die Entscheidung ist mir nicht leicht gefallen. Es war eine erfüllende Zeit im katholischen Medienhaus Sankt Michaelsbund. Wir haben hart, aber auch mit Freude, gemeinsam daran gearbeitet, dass die MK im digitalen Zeitalter weiter ihrer wichtigen Aufgabe im und für unser Erzbistum gerecht wird. Im Dienst unseres Herrn und seiner Kirche gibt es für Journalisten wenige Rollen, die reizvoller sein können. Daher bin ich zuversichtlich, dass sich eine gute Nachfolgerin, ein guter Nachfolger finden wird (siehe Anzeige, Seite 23).

Ihnen und der MK sowie allen Menschen, die an ihr – direkt wie indirekt – beteiligt sind, danke ich von Herzen; ich wünsche Ihnen Gottes Schutz und Segen und weiterhin eine gute Zeit mit Ihrer, nein, unserer Münchner Kirchenzeitung! Ich werde sie mit Ihnen gemeinsam weiter lesen.

Ihr

Anian Christoph Wimmer, Chefredakteur

Nichts daran ist schönfärberisch oder gar unwahr. Wer interessiert ist, kann sich hier informieren und bewerben.

Fragen und Kommentare beantworte ich wie immer gerne auf Twitter: @AnianWimmer oder auf Facebook.

Day 170 of the Great Big Marathon 10k Swimming Adventure: Three months out from the race – the first outside swim of the year!

Finally! After more than seven months doing laps indoors, it was time to swim outside. As much as I enjoy my 6am swims in the indoor pool – this was a treat. And one I hope to repeat soon.

[Begin v/o with Morgan Freeman’s voice]

Imagine a balmy evening after a long, hot summers’ day in our valley. Picture yourself diving into the smooth, silky water of a 50 meter outdoor pool on a hillside overlooking a Bavarian Alpine valley.

Here is a live  webcam view from the “left hand side” of the valley; not the pool itself, but you will get the picture.

As you dive into the pleasantly cool, clear water and look around, you see that there are hardly any people in it – since they prefer the warmer water of the “half inside/half outside” pool. You almost have the pristine water to yourself.

In other words: It was bliss.

[/end of Morgan Freeman voiceover]

In numbers, I swam for a total of 1:18:03 over 4.400m at an average of 1:49/100m – if you have been following my progress (or lack thereof) you will notice that I was a bit slower than per usual. Perhaps because of the 50m length?   

Here are the individual sets:

 

Not all of these sets were freestyle. I swam an IM (butterfly, back, breast, free) in the third and sixth set, backstroke in the fifth for instance. Also, my warm-up and cool-downs are always “too fast”, it seems; I do consciously try to relax for them, but that needs work.

Note to Garmin: I would be happy to display the actual graphics of my data collected by my Fenix 3 off of Garmin Connect, but since Garmin still hast not produced a Chrome OS-compatible version of its site, nor an iPad app (it is just the iPhone one blown up), it would be too cumbersome.

Come on Garmin, please get with the times on this :) Love your work.

Swimming as a family thing – and a great opportunity to be a good father

One of the benefits of the Great Big Swimming Adventure is that my offspring have taken a bigger interest in swimming, too. The older kids in particular try and keep up for a few laps, and I give them little coaching sessions whenever we hit the water. They are very determined to themselves and me that they can do full laps, learn butterfly and tumble turns. I love having this as a shared activity, as does their mother. We are a swimmer family (no puns please). Mind you, I wish there was a rigorous swimming program available for them, but surprisingly for a place so keen on sports, there isn’t.

Three months out from the race

Not long now, and I should be able to swim on the lakes around us. We were on a daytrip to Austria yesterday, so we stopped at the Heiterwanger See. Since we walked about 20 minutes in the heat, we were keen to jump in when we got there. It was bloody cold – I reckon about 12 degrees Celsius (53 Fahrenheit) but very refreshing. No way I could do laps in it though. The Heiterwanger flows into the also stunningly beautiful Plansee. It is a 5 kilometres long and about 1,5 kilometres wide. Fancy a dip? I do!

Plansee (CC-Image by "Vince51" on Wikimedia)
Plansee (CC-Image by “Vince51” on Wikimedia)

How to spot a swimmer on dry land

How do you spot a swimmer on dry land? It used to be easy: Just follow the faint trail of chlorine.

(CC Image by Daniel Oines)
(CC Image by Daniel Oines)

Not anymore.

With filtration systems improving these days, arguably the best way is to look for a certain type of person huddled in a large, fluffy parka, according to Mike Gustafson, who is dissecting swimmer lingo over at the USA Swimming website. He claims, in fact that

It’s easy to walk around and spot swimmers: They’re the large-shouldered, goggle-eyed individuals probably sleeping in some corner somewhere.

Yep. Now let’s get one thing straight: Mike Gustafson makes it sound like this is something younger swimmers are particularly prone to do. Let me assure you, the only reason older swimmers such as yours truly are not caught doing this is simply because we have too much other stuff on (like, errm, work) to get away with this, except on public transport and – some weekends or days off – at home, every now and then in a car waiting for the kids to pop out of whatever venue you have driven them to…… you get the picture.

Read the full story, it is worth it.

Pope Benedict XVI: A personal tribute to the man who resigned two years ago today

The MV Sydney 2000 - you can see the protruding front deck on which I stood (and a little later, Pope Benedict XVI) quite clearly. (CC Image via Wikimdia)
The MV Sydney 2000 – you can see the second, more narrow protruding front deck with yellow flooring on which I stood (and a little later, Pope Benedict XVI) quite clearly. (CC Image via Wikimedia)

My first encounter with Pope Benedict XVI. was marked by his absence. I stood, gently rocked by the waves of the Pacific, where he would stand in a few days’ time: on the front deck of the boat that would take him into Sydney Harbour. A number of journalists had been invited ahead of the World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney to take in the location of the events on the water; and to see “what the Holy Father would see”, as one of the organizers from the Archdiocese had put it, as we cruised out under the Harbour Bridge. I balked at the expression. This guy, the pope, was neither holy nor my father, in my view. A proud atheist and criticially-minded journalist and senior manager for SBS, like most of my colleagues I was irritated that my employer, a multilingual and multicultural public broadcaster, would even be the official network covering this religious event. And what is more, not something agreeably religious, like a nice Buddhist festival, but from that most outdated, autocratic, sexist institution of them all: the Catholic Church.

Had anyone told me, as I stood there on board the MV Sydney 2000, that in a few year’s time I would be a practicing Catholic, I would have laughed out. Loudly. Had anyone told me that I would even leave my excellent, rewarding career at SBS to work as a Catholic journalist on the other side of the planet, and along the way be the editor-in-chief of the Catholic newspaper that Pope Benedict has continually read since his tenth birthday (he is a loyal subscriber, to this day), I would have thought the person suggesting this was high on hallucinogens. Had anyone told me that in that role I would be in the arcades above Saint Peter’s Square a good decade later, covering the resignation of this “Holy Father” as a Bavarian brass band rang out across the tens of thousands gathered there, I would have checked myself into a hospital for a check-up.

And yet, this is exactly what happened.

So today is a rather special day for me too, and I would like to honour the anniversary of Benedict’s resignation by offering some points towards a personal account of what his role has meant to me, and how I see his impact not just on my personal life and many people around me, but the history of Christianity, the West, and indeed, humanity, with the humble means available to me: a personal post on this blog.

Pope Benedict XVI. (Source: CC Image, Wikimedia)
Pope Benedict XVI. (Source: CC Image, Wikimedia)

Let me just come out and tackle what several people will wonder about. Yes, I could have published something like this account in German in the newspaper I am responsible for. Or in an essay in another publication. Especially since I know that Pope Benedict reads the Münchner Kirchenzeitung (or even if he did not that week, he would be told of it quickly). The same can probably not be said for an English-language post on my personal blog which has only a few readers, and many of them come here for the stuff about swimming. Well, there are several reasons why I have decided to go down this route. Firstly, I am aware that my personal take on things may not be relevant reading to many of the people who receive the Münchner Kirchenzeitung every week. Many of them have a long relationship with Joseph Ratzinger, who after all is a son of the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, and even its former Archbishop. Several have a strong personal ties to him and his family, too. Secondly, the personal nature (and with that: obvious bathos) of my claims is not suited to the writing done in the professional and neutral framework I try to provide in the MK. Thirdly, it would needlessly complicate my already challenging task of working with many vociferous stakeholders and assertive interest groups to ensure that paper is a high-quality platform for real discussion and participation. Several of these voices do not have one good word to say about Benedict, and I would need to open an actual debate on this, which at this point in time is neither a useful nor a responsible thing to do. So call it self-censorship if you want, I stand by this decision. (The paper will of course mark the anniversary).

Since I am butally short on time, I will make these personal observations in the form of an eclectic list in no particular order that centres around three thoughts:

  1. Pope Benedict XVI. is arguably the most important intellectual of the Twentieth Century, and his prescient work on the Church and society in particular not only predicted exactly what would emerge, but also how to deal with the challenges our civilization finds itself in at this hour. We need to read Ratzinger! We need to re-read his Regensburg Address on Islam, for starters, as rabid Islamists are torturing and beheading Christians not far from the cradle of civilization and countries like Turkey appears to be spiralling into an Islamic abyss whilst educating, exporting and funding preachers to Europe.
  2. As a pope, Benedict XVI. was a maligned, persecuted and slandered figure even before he took on the role. What is worse, he was hounded, betrayed and attacked both from outside and within the Church. By resigning in humility to pray, he won his final victory over the Pharisees and the many other enemies of our Church in this age and remains a powerful sign of contradiction that continues to shine and will do so in future – and not just in his actions, but his writing in particular. Contrast what Benedict says and writes to the treatment he received at the hands of his enemies, and you will see what I mean.
  3. The fruits of Benedict’s legacy is yet invisible. The effect of his work as thinker and as pope are yet to fully blossom – and they will do so when much of what is currently foremost on our minds is forgotten. This is particularly true for how the Catholic Church will “subsist” in the current and coming age, but also seemingly minor things like the future of the Society of Saint Pius X and how their role in the history of salvation pertains to the hermeneutic of continuity that is the path of the universal Church through all the ages.

Feel free to add to them or disagree with me in the comments. There are more points I would like to touch on and contextualize, but do not have the time to. Let me just scribble them down here:

  • A particularly odious and stupid expression of persecution, in no small part Germanophobic, was the smearing of the pope as a “Nazi”. How Hollywood celebrities and even liberal journalists got away with this begs further investigation and is a devastating indictment of the levels of so-called “tolerance” claimed by some particularly self-righteous individuals in positions of power.
  • Another sign of contradiction: His use of beautiful, historical clothes spoke a language our time (the Zeitgeist) was unwilling to hear, and keen to deride and scoff at. Remember the red shoes? But those with ears to listen actually heard the language these vestments, symbols, elements speak. My favourite example is the story of the young Muslim woman who was invited to do the live commentary of the World Youth Day events on SBS Radio – together with a lapsed but eloquent priest and an atheist, no less. SBS did this to ensure an “impartial” if not critical coverage and not seem too “Catholic”. The move backfired: When the priest described the names and purposes of the liturgical elements of dress, since the Muslim commentator was asking, the compelling beauty and inner logic of the narratives these clothes, items and various other elements add to the words and gestures all but converted the questioner, it seemed – and certainly made for compelling Catholic radio in a way no practicing son or daughter of the Church in good standing could have delivered. There are several important lessons in that anecdote, even if it were apocryphal, which for all I know and remember, it is not.

Anyway, I need to cut this short for the time being.

Once again, this is my personal view at the time of writing. What do you remember of him or take away from his papacy, his writings? Feel free to contribute, to disagree (or agree!) with me in the comments. And if you are the praying or at least the thoughtful type (and we all should be in my view), please consider this maligned and IMHO brilliant, humble man in your thoughts today.

Wir brauchen ein Islamgesetz

IMG_2048
Der Islam in Oberbayern: Die Moschee von Penzberg. Foto: Wimmer

An Deutlichkeit nichts zu wünschen übrig ließ Kardinal Reinhard Marx mit seiner Aussage zum Umgang mit dem selbst-ernannten “Islamischen Staat” (IS). Der IS muß gestoppt werden, so der Vorsitzende der Deutschen Bischofskonferenz zum Abschluß der Frühjahrsvollversammlung am Donnerstag. Er sprach damit aus, was nicht nur alle Bischöfe von Bundesregierung und Staatengemeinschaft verlangen, sondern auch die große Mehrheit aller Bürgerinnen und Bürger will, egal ob Christen, Agnostiker – oder Muslime.

Wenn wir den IS und sein mörderisches, abstossendes, gottloses Treiben stoppen wollen, dann schaffen wir das nicht allein durch Waffengewalt; wenn auch leider nicht ohne: Zurecht weist der Münchner Erzbischof darauf hin, dass Verhandeln mit dem IS alleine “offenbar sinnlos” ist. Wir schaffen es auch nicht nur mit Forderungen an unsere Regierung und andere, etwas zu tun. Wir, Christen wie die Zivilgesellschaft allgemein, müssen der friedlichen Mehrheit der Millionen Muslime, die unter uns leben, eine faire Chance geben, mit dem Grundgesetz und unseren Werten harmonierende Formen ihres Glaubens zu entwickeln und zu leben. Etwa als Körperschaften öffentlichen Rechts. Mehr noch, wir müssen dies einfordern. So klar und deutlich wir nur können. Im persönlichen Gespräch genauso wie auf der Ebene unserer Gesetzgebung.

In Österreich wird dies nun mit dem am Mittwoch verabschiedeten Islamgesetz versucht, das Muslime einerseits schützt und mehr Rechte einräumt, andererseits aber Pflichten auferlegt. Vor allem schiebt es einer Praxis einen Riegel vor, welche die Entwicklung eines friedlichen, europäischen Islam nach wie vor erschwert: Dass Prediger aus anderen Ländern importiert und von dort finanziert werden.

Solche Gesetze, in Deutschland oder ganz Europa, würden noch lange nicht das komplexe Phänomen des radikalen Islams stoppen. Aber sie wären ein Schritt in die richtige Richtung. Der IS verbreitet sich nicht nur in Syrien, Irak, Libyen. Er wuchert längst auch unter uns, in unseren Gemeinden und Familien.

(Ursprünglich veröffentlicht als “Standpunkt” auf http://www.katholisch.de)

Day 73 of the Great Big 10k Swimming Adventure: Cracking the 5k milestone (and thoughts on why I really hate sprint sets)

Yay. Have not had time to blog, but I actually reached a milestone in the Great Big Swimming Adventure this Tuesday morning: For the first time, I swam a straight 5k.

After a crappy night’s sleep (I woke at 1:30am and could not go back to sleep till about 3:30am, brain in overdrive, then woke absolutely knackered to a blaring alarm at 5am), I thought I would only be able to put in a mediocre swim. In a way, I did – I just did it for 212 lanes all up, of which I swam:

  • 250m free warm-up at 1:36/100m
  • 5000m free at 1:43/100m (that means 1 hour 25 minutes and 56 seconds) at cruise speed
  • 50m breast stroke to cool down at casual/fun speed i.e. 2:29/100m

Since 5k is my competition distance this year (10k next year), and the race is not till August, I am glad I reached this milestone in late February. Gives me confidence; the knowledge I will be able to stay the distance, even if it will be in the open ocean, instead of the confines of my local pool.

What I felt like on the last few hundred meters yesterday (CC Image via Wikimedia: Actually a really interesting "wet canoe" - google it!)
What I felt like on the last few hundred meters yesterday (CC Image via Wikimedia: Actually a really interesting “wet canoe”)

Then yesterday I went back to the pool, feeling well rested and only a hint of sore in the shoulders. So I decided to do some sprints. I only managed 6x50m, averaging high 30secs, then breathing for a few secs (ok, in the last few: 30secs!) and then pushing off again.

Why do I find sprint sets so bloody hard? Maybe it is the fact that I am over 40 years old now. Maybe because of the half-marathon distance the day before. Maybe I am just too soft for hard sprints. Whatever the reason: I had to push myself really hard for those sprints. Much harder than swimming a casual 2000m. Anyway: Lesson learned is to make sure to sleep well. Then do the hard work of sprint sets on specific days, and then do them first, then “reward” yourself with the other sets after. Overall I swam well over 3k (3.450m to be precise) yesterday:

  • 200m free warmup
  • 6/7x 50m all-out sprints (sorry, don’t have watch on me; will update times later if I get to it)
  • 600m backstroke with pull buoy (to counter the 5k set on Monday)
  • 300m kick drills mixed
  • 2x1k free at a very relaxed pace

At the end of that last 1000m set I felt queasy and off. I hit the showers and was at work very early.

No pool today, I obviouly need a day off. I swam 13k this week so far, and I am well on track in this adventure. Must not overdo things, especially at my ripe middle-old age – and yet look forward to being back in the water. Maybe I will do a slow 1000m tonight in the local pool and take the kids.

How the media is problematizing large families

Full disclosure: I am not only a father of four children but also a passive member of the association quoted below.

There is some extremely interesting research and – speaking not just as a blogger but editor-in-chief of a weekly newspaper – devastating analysis of how the media creates and perpetuates stupid prejudices against families, especially

Source: Verband kinderreicher Familien
Source: Verband kinderreicher Familien

those with three or more children. This in turn leads to a messy, unfair and deeply disturbing misrepresentation of families. This analysis is coming from the association of “child-rich” (love that term!) families in Germany (this is their home page).

As the multilingual website “FamilyandMedia.eu” reports (check them for the full story here), the prejudices against families with three kids come about in four ways:

1) The media speaks about large families only in relation to problems: too many financial burdens, conflicts from living together, and unstable accommodations. By rule, with a few exceptions in the popular press, they are represented with negative clichés, such as “families with many children are abnormal” or “only families with immigrant parents have many children.” The image that results is that large families are excessive or only proper to socially marginalized categories.

2) 41% of the examined articles offered a negative image of the traditional family, understood as a family in which the father works and the mother is at home, with one or two children (an image that, coincidentally is also far from reality).

3) While news about the family in general is mostly related to politics, those concerning large families are always presented in relation to specific and problematic cases.

4) The topic of family and of the number of children was treated in a reductive way, giving space only to opinions that were based on common places and stereotypes, which in turn were often supported by the voices of so called “experts.”

Sure, they “only” analyze German media, but does this not apply to most Western media? I reckon so.

For readers of German and those not afraid of Google Translate, here is an excellent interview with the spokesperson of the association, Florian Brich, about the “conceptual hurdles” that families need to tackle to have a fair voice, representation and coverage in the media.

Day 54 of the Great Big 10k Marathon Swimming Adventure: Being “Pool-Blocked” …and a major life lesson about what matters most

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CC Image by Peter Nguyen / Pixabay

Too much has happened again. Quick recap since my last update three days ago:

Work trip to Augsburg meant I could give the indoor pool in Haunstetten a go – it was en route and I left a good hour earlier to swim there beforehand. Place is 1970s throwback to steel, glass and concrete; needs a refurb to be sure, but the water is clean  and facility seems well managed. There is no cashier: You get in by purchasing a ticket from a cash-only machine, so bring change. Unfortunately, the pool was so crowded, what with two school classes and the morning round of a good dozen seniors and housewives, that I ended up DIVING under two elder gents who were actually “lapping” up and down in order to get some mileage in. Mileage? Make that 1500 meters or so – not counting diving and swerving and weaving between people. Though everyone was very friendly, they certainly weren’t going to let this whippersnapper with goggles just swim up and down minding his own business. Nein. Ah well. That was the second day in a row that I got “pool-blocked”, so I used my frustration to remind myself how lucky I am to be able to swim in the first place and have this kind of luxury problem to worry about.

That said, since I had planned to do a 2x2k or 4k swim, I was very ready for a proper long-distance set the next day (i.e. yesterday). And since this was my final day for a fortnight in the “working week pool”, I got up fifteen minutes earlier, left the house at 5:20 or so, and was in the water even earlier than normal. Turns out leaving just a few minutes earlier gets you a substantial amount of time more in the water. If I can toughen out a 5am instead of 5.30am get up, it will be very worth it in the later stages of the adventure.

Summary of Friday swim: 4400 meters including warmup and cool down. Took 1:07 to swim the 4k.

This was only the second time in my life I swam a straight 4k (if I remember right). It was very different from the last/first time, in as much as I did not get into a “zone” and experienced no excruciating boredome either; it was, not just psychologically speaking, an utterly banal experience. Did some laps breathing on the left, which still sucks, and practiced my bilateral breathing, which is getting more comfortable, but otherwise just cruised through.

Felt very happy, focused and energised for the rest of the day, despite having eleven hours of straight-up work to power through. Driving home after 7:30 pm on this epic Friday, I spent my meditation and prayer time reflecting in gratitude of how much I an thankful for – both the frustrating aspects and of course the fantastic experiences of swimming: They both give me so much that in turn allows me to work well, too – and arguably more importantly, come home relaxed and happy, not exhausted and distracted, to spend quality time with the wife and kids. My wife needs and deserves a relaxed and observant husband, not a stressed-out commuter and office jockey.

So, here’s the insight, or rather life lesson, which is simple but one I have struggled with a lot: There is no point in just tiring yourself out, burning the candle at both ends, even if you do it for what matters most: to be a good provider (or, in my case, a good Christian)! You have to look after yourself, within reason: Sleep enough, work out, eat well, and take the time you need to reflect/meditate/pray. Only then can you fully be the best person for the people who need you: Your wife or husband, your children, family, work and friends.

Day 50 of the Great Big 10k Marathon Swimming Adventure: Building speed, experimenting with plant-based protein powder (and driving through blizzards)

Argh. I have been looking everywhere for the Garmin USB stick. Without it, I cannot transfer the data of my swims onto the computer. Anyway, till it shows up, let me just give you a breakdown of today and yesterday:

  • 2 February 2015: Swam 3.400m all up – 136 lanes in the 25m pool. The highlight was swimming the 1k in 15:49, which was a personal best I reckon. I averaged 1:35/100m. Mind you, I did put in the hard yards to get that, including a sprint for the last laps.
  • 3 February 2015 (today): Did 2.900m  – 116 lanes. And promptly broke the PB when doing a 1k swim by several seconds. I ended up going the distance in 15:41, averaging 1:34/100m. That one second on average for every four laps as compared to the day before netted me eight seconds.

Really pleased with how the speed is improving. I worked hard, but I can work harder on this distance, and improving on the 1k will help me with the 5k and ultimately the 10k, I am sure. That said, I am still very far from cracking the mini-goal of swimming the 1k in 15 minutes straight (or less). Need to do more speed drills – at least once a week. Other than that, I have been doing a fair bit of back stroke to alleviate the neck pain I had. That worked well (it is practically gone), and complemented with kick drills and a bit of paddles and pull buoy in the mix, this constitutes the bulk of the sessions at the moment.

All-natural protein for the liquid breakfast party

Organic hemp protein from Bioticana – tastes great, and hopefully will help with training.
Organic hemp protein from Bioticana – tastes great, and hopefully will help with training.

To improve my protein intake and add more variety to the breakfast smoothie, I have started to try out some plant-based organic protein isolates. You can get these here at Bioticana made from hemp (50% protein), peas (80% protein) and sweet lupine (41%). They come in clean, crisp brown packs, made from recycled paper, not those big flashy plastic tubs. Also, unlike the regular gym and fitness fare, there is nothing but the pure ingredient in the bag: No flavours, sweeteners, sugar, colouring. Just the “flour”. The isolate is in powder form, much like the regular whey-based stuff in terms of texture.

But what about the taste? Well, so far the hemp and lupine powders go well with apple, pear and/or banana smoothies with oats. The pea powder, though it has 80% protein, just tastes very, well, pea-y. It goes really well with a glass of tomato or vegetable juice, but not sure what else.

Anyway, will keep posting on this when I have experimented some more. So far, I am not convinced it is worth the effort.

Speaking of effort…

Just as I have truly settled into the new routine and adjusted to the habit, I am about to take two weeks off work. This means I need to train in the local pool, without lane ropes, heaps of chlorineand with bad air I fear. Since they also only open late in the morning, I will probably aim for an evening swim. Hope that works out. Given the recent crazy driving in blizzard conditions and very slippery and/or snow-covered roads at the moment, I am glad to have a bit of time off the commute at the moment, too.

Day 45 of the Great Big Marathon 10k Swimming Adventure: Cracking the 4k and dealing with neck pain

My trusty and highly recommended Garmin Swim watch always shows how much you have swum this week. Yes, you can turn the feature off. But it is a great motivator (just don't start "bragging" with it; no one cares).
My trusty and highly recommended Garmin Swim watch always shows how much you have swum this week. Yes, you can turn the feature off. But it is a great motivator.

Brrr! I’ve just come in from an icy but breathtakingly beautiful morning outing with my wife. We took a refreshing (ok, bracing) walk in the snow up to a local hotel for a nice buffet breakfast (my wife won the voucher almost two years ago, and we finally got around to using it) and then we had a slightly mental return trip back down to our house by toboggan. Weee!

Best morning ever.

So before settling down to work on some stories for the paper (even though it is officially a day off from work; I just have too much to do – and I love being able to write in the peace and quiet of my own four walls), let me give you a quick update on where the swimming adventure is at.

  • Into my second week of the “new” swimming regimen, and despite massive snow storms making the commute cumbersome, the habit is settling in. And I am getting some serious pool time: From Monday to Wednesday, I swam 10,575 meters (check photo for proof). That may be yawn-tastic for a serious athlete; for me it is a serious improvement and I am happy about it.
  • I cranked out my first 4k yesterday; needless to say, I swam on cruising speed, just enjoying the ride and even doing stints of parallel and left breathing, sighting and the like to limber up. Still it only took me 1:09:13 hours. That means I swam an average of 1.44 minutes per 100m – or an average of 17:30 minutes per kilometre. Nice. Could I have kept it up for another k? Probably. But I also started to feel a bit woozy (perhaps because of the cold I caught on Tuesday; or perhaps because my body started demanding some fuel).
  • Physically and mentally, I feel better than ever. That said: There is a nasty cold I feel coming on, which I picked up at a strategy session on Tuesday by sitting next to a coughing, sniffling, sneezing person for three hours. Grrr. I sneezed so much in the office yesterday, my colleagues started making jokes about it. Hope this does not flare up later tonight. It is one reason why I am not in the pool today.
  • The mental (health) aspect is huge and should not be underestimated. Swimming for a full hour, my head goes into a very pleasant and deep meditative zone. The rhythmic breathing, lapping and turning, the sensory deprivation, the feeling of being held by the water and yet of flying through it (not to get pathetic but that is what it feels like: the pool is my warm, comfortable sky, and I am casually flying through it) – it insulates me against stresses and provides focus for the whole day.
  • On Monday and Tuesday, preceding the long swim, I focused on sprints again. Don’t like them at all and ideally would be able to find a Masters class to train with once a week for those unpleasant sets. However, it does need doing to help build base speed, muscle and power, not to mention that it adds more options to keep things interesting.
  • Be it from the cold, the driving on icy roads or swimming (breathing too much on the right?): I got some slight neck pain last night and will therefore do some serious backstroking tomorrow morning, and do all kick drills lying on my back, too.