Day 88 of the Great Big 10k Marathon Swimming Adventure: Clocking 5k daily, losing weight – and avoiding bugs

Been swimming pretty much a daily 5k during the week since my last update, though typically again one day some appointment or other will botch my plans to make it to the pool every morning during the working week. But you know what? Four times a week is fine at the moment. So far this week I have clocked up almost 20 kilometres – the watch says 19,675m.

(CC Image by Justin Grandfield)
(CC Image by Justin Grandfield)

Wednesday’s workout is typical, so I will use that to illustrate where I am at:

  • A total of 5000m at an average of 1:43/100m (SWOLF of 35)
  • A warm-up of 200m free in 2:57 (that’s a tasty 1:28/100m; wish I could keep that up!)
  • 7x50m sprints at 1:15 to 1:20 per 100m (have I mentioned how much I hate sprint sets)
  • 2050m (accidentally swam an extra 50m this morning) free at 1:42/100m in 34:40 (relaxed and casually cruising today)
  • 500m backstroke with pullbuoy in 9:54
  • 200m mixed kicking drills: 25m front/25m back, rinse and repeat, with the kickboard
  • 300m free with pullbuoy and paddles at 1:41/100m
  • 300m free with just pullbuoy at 1:37/100m (felt great; I love powering down the lane this way)
  • 1000m free at 1:42/100m in 17:01 (casual again, not pushing myself at all)
  • 100m cool down breaststroke/dolphin kicks

So I try and get 5k in every time I hit the pool in the morning; that way I figure I get myself tuned to the distance (and longer distances later); however, I am not really getting really much faster at this stage. Just more comfortable of longer distances.  I am thinking I might need to revisit training plans and/or look at (stroke/technique) coaching.

Yesterday – Thursday – I mucked around a bit, swimming shorter sets toward the end and “only” clocking in 4650 meters. I figure that is par for the course, though. To avoid slacking around, today, last day before the weekend break from the daily swim, I swam 5050meters:

  • 200m warm up free in 3:09, could still feel my muscles in the shoulders from yesterday
  • 3,000m at 1:39/100m average, 49:26 all up – felt strong and cruised comfortably. No sprint at the end, not pushing hard.
  • 350m back with pull buoy and paddles – really loving these back stroke sets after longer swims in free style. Also, I am just more comfortable with that style now than I have been for years
  • 200m back with pull buoy, no paddles in 4.09 – felt relaxing
  • 300m drills (kick board)
  • 500m free with paddles and p-buoy in 9:46 (!) – but that is because I was doing bilateral breathing sets and focussed on my stroke technique
  • 500m free, no paddles but p-buoy in 8:59 (!) – just one gear above doggy paddle; also doing mostly bilateral breathing

Health-wise, this swimming adventure so far has proven an inoculation of sorts against the colds and tummy bugs that have affected a lot of people around me. It might be the combination of exercise, better nutrition, or perhaps also the psychological beneftis of the daily 1.5 hour meditation the swim offers. Who knows. Certainly my immune system is stronger than it has been. Mind you, I can feel a sniffle coming on… the temp was back to -6 degrees centigrade when I left the house at 5:10 am this morning. Brrr.

Speaking of nutrition: Since I burn between 1,200 and 1,500 kCal every time I swim (according to my trusty Garmin Swim watch), and then have my liquid breakfast at 8am, aim to eat nothing after 8pm (that 12-hour-window-rule), and try to avoid anything sweet or alcoholic on normal days, I have not only burned more calories but also improved my eating habits, reducing sugar and other stuff too. Consequently, I have so far lost more than 10 pounds of weight whilst also putting on a wee bit of muscle. I do need to catch up on sleep some more, but all things considered, the health aspects of the Great Big 10k Swimming Adventure are fantastic.



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 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.

“Veggie Day” der Grünen: Spiessig, selbstgerecht und schädlich

Das Problem mit der Forderung der Grünen nach einem Zwangsgemüsetag ist ein dreifaches. Hier stimmen weder die sonnenblumige Anglo-Verpackung, noch der vorgebliche Inhalt, noch die Motivation. Auf Bairisch gesagt: Das ganze ist ein rechter Schmarren.

Erstens: Die Verpackung. Ganz schön groovy, diese Greenies! Der Begriff erinnert an Plakate einer Drogerie-Kette kurz vor ihrem Konkurs: “For You. Vor Ort”, hiess es da. Der Firmensprecher entschuldigte das sinngemäß mit: Das Klientel sei halt nicht so gebildet. Wird jetzt ein grüner PR-Mann nach dem dritten Bio-Hugo einen ähnlichen Lapsus per Twitter leisten?Source: State Archives of Florida

Zweitens: Der Inhalt. Soll niemand glauben, dass mit zwangsverordneten Pflichttagen mehr “Gerechtigkeit mit Messer und Gabel” hergestellt werden kann. Der Zweck heiligt niemals die Mittel. Mit Bevormundung erreicht niemand Gerechtigkeit! Statt die wichtigen Anliegen von Armut und Hunger zu beleuchten, ebenso wie die positiven Aspekte vegetarischer Ernährung, wird eine Moral-Keule geschwungen. Das ist spiessig, schädlich und selbstgerecht; für mündige Bürger eine zutiefst unchristliche Zumutung.

Drittens: Die Motivation. Die ist so durchsichtig wie daneben. Die Grünen haben in einigen Diskursen die öffentliche Deutungshoheit. Was daran liegen mag, dass sie oft authentischer sind, weil sie an ihre Anliegen glauben. Aber hier werden eigene Werte instrumentalisiert, um als Akt performativer Propaganda medial ausgespielt zu werden. So wird der Etikettenschwindel möglich, der mit kurzatmigen Halbwahrheiten hinter “Happy Labels” (sic) kulturrevolutionäre Maßnahmen propagiert. Das schadet den Anliegen wie unserer Demokratie.

In meiner Familie ist seit Jahren der Freitag ein fleischloser “Pfannkuchentag”. Eine schöne Tradition, die unsere Kinder begeistert – und die Hunde, wenn wir nicht tierisch aufpassen. Aber wir haben als Christen einen besseren Grund dafür als Propaganda und Zwang; und wir respektieren die Freiheit der anderen, mit zu machen – oder nicht.

(Crossposted from here)