Day 106 of the Great Big Marathon 10k Swimming Adventure: The B-Word and some involuntary dry-land work

How much butterfly do you swim as part of a daily swimming workout? I used to dread having to do fly, even when I swam competitively as a kid. I never felt comfortable with the stroke.

All the more reason to tackle the discipline.

Hehe, look at the humans doing a dolphin kick mate! (CC Image by Sweetbananadreams)
Hehe, look at the humans doing a dolphin kick mate! (CC Image by Sweetbananadreams)

As part of the Swimming Adventure, I have decided make a go of it. Beat the B-Word. Also, when you consider:

  1. …there is a lot of distance to cover every morning. A bit of variety goes a long way towards making the daily 5k even more enjoyable.
  2. …there is no reason not to! I feel like I finally have enough strength, technique and endurance now to tackle the stroke properly. Or maybe just the cocky confidence since hardly anyone will see me splashing like a drunk dolphin just after 6am on a typical weekday morning.
  3. …others are doing it: I have been really inspired by the likes of Vicki Keith or Julie Bradshaw, who swam the English Channel in butterfly (!), Dan Projansky aka Mr. Butterfly and the amazing Sylle, to look at butterfly again. I struggle to do a proper 100m with that stroke at the moment, and these guys cover several marathon distances this way. Incredible.
  4. …it wil help to build both strength and endurance

Ok, so this past week I have asked one of the triathletes who are there regularly to look at my fly stroke and give me some feedback. She is a former competitive butterfly swimmer, and not one to hold back on opinions, so I knew she would give me something to work with! That said, she said my stroke wasn’t bad (that’s German for a compliment) and I should make sure I keep my hips limber (what is it with male swimmers and stiff hips?!) and stretch out more when the arms go to the front. Orrighty. Been focusing on that, doing some short fly sets, and a few IMs, and really am enjoying this.

Speaking of enjoyable: The weather this week was anything but. In fact, it was terrible and even dangerous.

We had a severe thunderstorm ripping through Bavaria, it took several lives; Munich’s central train station had to be evacuated for a while. Since then, loads of snow has been piling up. I was unable to actually get to work on Wednesday, so instead of swimming I spent an hour from 7am to 8am on the elliptical trainer that my wife has organized for herself. The experience wasn’t half-bad, all things considered; it also reminded me of a few muscles the swimming does not target the same way (the side of the shins and down to the ankles, for instance). And also that I really like my exercise in water.

Since this time is a huge and important festival for those of us who are of the Christian variety, with loads of festivities, family and community events, I am skipping the pool for four days this week. I will do some planks and push ups, but mostly focus on resting up a bit. In training terms, this will be a nice short break, and then off to proper exercise on Tuesday morning. I finished the week early on Thursday with a 5.6k workout, swimming almost a solid two hours before dashing off to work, and I am hoping to do something very similar early in the next week.

Day 61 of the Great Big 10k Marathon Swimming Adventure: Mountain hiking, tobogganing and evening swims

Screengrab of the Hörnle webcam at www.hoernlebahn.de
Screengrab of the Hörnle webcam at http://www.hoernlebahn.de this morning

There is an abundance of snow and glorious sunshine here at the moment in the Bavarian Alps. The day before yesterday, with all kids finally well enough to be ferried off to their respective schools and kindy till lunch time, the wife and I grabbed two toboggans and hiked up the Hörnle mountain. We also had Barry the Appenzeller dog with us, who loves the snow so much he keeps rolling in it and eating it.

How different is this from swimming! I thought to myself, huffing and puffing up the steeper inclines, drawing deep breaths in the pure Alpine mountain air. How different is this from swimming! I thought to myself, hurtling down the serpentines of an icy mountainside, tasting the powdery snow your heels kick up, the blue sky blazing above between the dark green firs and the pearly snow. How different is this from swimming! I thought it to myself as I swam a sound 3.000 metres that night, hitting the pool just after 7pm. It was not as sensational as hiking and skiing and all the rest of it is. But I was home. In my element.

The first week of “holidays” is drawing to a close, and it has been fantastic – it feels like an emotional taper. next week will be even busier, with a book chapter to write and three additional children staying with us for most of the week, but I intend to keep swimming in the evenings nonetheless – a minimum of four days.

Day 56 of the Great Big 10k Marathon Swimming Adventure: Shovelling snow instead of hitting the pool

Brrrr
Brrrr – view from the window

With temps hitting around minus 11 degrees Centigrade again, snow piling up around the house (we live about 900m above sea level), and both the wife and most kids sick with a nasty stomach bug, my first day of holidays went rather differently as orginially planned. I got up at 6am to help the last healthy child to some brekkie and then see her off to school; then I shovelled snow for a good one and a half hours, listening to a very good podcast about Phenomenology (even poor old Melvyn Bragg was cold, sneezing off mic at one point). Then I spent most of the day drawing up some urgent strategy papers for work, getting at least the bare minimum of emails done and redacting an article on a monastery which is going into print tomorrow. Phew.

Unsurprisingly, I am feeling a bit under the weather too, so I wisely decided not to give my 7pm training a go today. Instead, I read up on some local (i.e. Bavarian) open water comps and events this year. Looks like there is a lot going on and I will check out the details later. In the meantime, have a gander at my linklist; I will try and compile a useful collection of information and links to stories there.

Now it is past 8pm and I am ready for a quiet evening (pray the kids go to sleep soon) with my recuperated better half. Look forward to the second day of holidays tomorrow – and hopefully a proper training session.