Day 100 of the Great Big 10k Marathon Swimming Adventure: Cracking the 1k in under 15 minutes – and some lessons from the first hundred days

OK, first off: Yay! I did it! In less than 15 minutes!

Yesterday, on the morning of day 99 since setting out on this adventure, I reached a major milestone: I swam the 1k in under 15mins. The watch says it took me precisely 14:50 minutes to do 1000 meters (in the 25 meter pool I train most mornings). Yes, dear haters, distinctly un-impressive by some standards, but for me, personally, an achievement that took a lot of work.

(In case you haven’t noticed, I am bloody pleased with myself.)

(CC Image via Flickr by uberof202)
(CC Image via Flickr by uberof202)

This is not just a personal best, but a milestone that I set for myself many months ago. It feels good to set goals and then work towards achieving them, then reaching them. Especially when trying to achieve them has many side benefits, like keeping you happy, healthy and sane.

Since today marks the 100th day since I set out on this adventure, let me draw up a quick summary of the main points/events on the journey so far:

  • Gradually increased the swimming load from hitting the pool 2-3 times a week for practices over 1-3.5k to a daily 4-5k every morning, Monday to Friday. Which means that I swim about 20k a week currently. And I plan to do more.
  • Cracked the 5k distance in the 25m pool
  • Changed my daily routine to get up at 5am and swim from 6am to 7.30am-ish every morning (not weekends).
  • Changed my diet to a liquid breakfast and eating within a 12-hour-timeframe during the week
  • Given that I burn about 1500 kcal every morning in the water, too, I have lost almost 10kg of weight
  • I have not experienced any back pain since Day 1 of this adventure, and feel much healthier, fitter, etc.
  • Unlike normally, I did not succumb to any of the bugs and viruses that family members, friends and colleagues fell ill with

And, yep, I learned some important lessons so far that I hope to remember when the going will get tough (as it invariably does). Here are four that I want to share with you:

  1. Persistence really is key. Make yourself “auto-persistent”: Change your habits to “bake in” your workout (or whatever it is) into your day. Make it routine. Stick to it.
  2. Persistence comes from priorities! Ruthlessly prioritize your life. My – and most likely your – absolute priority, from which everything flows, is my identity. (Sidenote: Sure, you don’t have to be religious to have a sound anchorage in life and death, but boy does it help.) Knowing who you are and why you are here on this planet in turn helps you to focus. My focus is on my vocation as firstly a husband to my beautiful wife, secondly a father to those crazy kids, thirdly a professional worker, and so on. So, I hear you ask, where does swimming come into all of this? Well, it is essential! But “only” because it allows me to properly function in all these roles. Just like sound rest, good nutrition, and other things that are essential. (I wish young swimmers, some of whom get depressed from having swimming as the main goal in life, knew and understood this. Swimming – or any other activity – is not a raison d’etre by itself.)
  3. Persistence can be helped! Do what ever helps you to keep at it, within reason. Cameraderie or team training, friendships, saving up for excellent gear, finding inspiration by socialising with others passionate about the sport, online or offline….and write about it! One of the stated purposes of this blogging business is to keep me motivated and have a kind of public record out there to hold myself somewhat accountable. Your mileage may vary, but for me this has really worked.
  4. Regularly remind yourself: What would happen if I did not go down this path? How did I feel before making the change? This throws into stark relief the many fundamental motivational factors that can be clouded over by short-term concerns or moods – and makes you realise: You don’t really have an alternative that is preferable. Boom. Back to 1.

Though I rarely quote from the Bible, there is a real doozy from Psalm 103. A phrase that sums all of this up rather nicely, and using the metaphor of water no less:

inter medium montium pertransibunt aquae (the waters will pass through the midst of the mountains)

Day 93 of the Great Big 10k Marathon Swimming Adventure: Ecstasy in the Water

By the look of things, today was a normal training session. I experienced something far from normal though. But first things first; here is a quick summary.

5250 metres in 1 hour 39 of swimming
-200m free warm up in 3:08
-5x100m free sprints at 1:20 to 1:23 per 100m (Ugh. Such hard work. )
-1050m free at 1:54/100m on average in 19:59 total at a very slow and cruisy pace
-200m back with pull buoy and paddles
-200m back with pull buoy
-200m back
-100m kick drills on back
-100m kick drills on front
-200m free
-200m free with pull buoy
-200m free with pull buoy and paddles
-2000m free at normal pace but disappointingly slow at 36:49
-100m breast/dolphin kicks

Ok. So what about the ecstasy? Well, from about half way through the casual k I swam after those sprints (did I mention I hate sprint sets?), I experienced what is perhaps better described as a swimmer’s high. Maybe the endorphins, the sheer pleasure of having a whole lane to myself, simply feeling rested and ploughing up and down and up and down through the crystal clear water… probably all of the above. I just felt exuberant to be able to simply swim, with no phones or emails or questions or urgent appointments. Just one and a half hours of time to charge up the batteries. Bliss.


I wonder if there isn’t an element of physiological addiction in this, of course. And yes: The threat of narcissism, perhaps; but also on the other hand just the benefits of getting a healthy amount of exercise in. The experience of the physical self and of exercising that self in a certain discipline that is honed and shaped by the elements. And a panoply of cultural aspects, as described for instance in the book “Haunts of the Black Masseur: The Swimmer as Hero” by Charles Sprawson; and, rather differently but equally interestingly by Lynn Sherr in “Swim: Why We Love the Water”.

(Not to mention the whole theory of whether humankind evolved on shores and in shallows.)

Anyway. A daily routine of exercise to keep healthy, happy and sane isn’t just good for you. It will also make you a better husband/wife, parent, colleague and performer. And help keep you focused and on track.

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 83 of the Great Big 10k Marathon Swimming Adventure: A review of my new Zoggs Predator Flex Titanium Reactor

(Update March 2015: After a few swims, the Flex Titaniums are absolutely water-tight, snug and comfy. They need “wearing in”, just like their predecessors did. These beauties are now my daily go-to pair of goggles).

Phew, what a week this has been again. Topped off by a Friday when I left the house at 5am and returned at 11pm. Despite missing one swim, I got 18600 metres in, of which I swam just over 9 kilometres with the new Predator Flex Titanium Reactor goggles in the last few days.

Yep. That is quite a mouthful. Predator Flex Titanium Reactor. No less coming from a company called Zoggs. Sounds like a dexterous metal rogue nuclear power plant in a trippy Dr. Seuss satire. Or something.

Then again, this is not just a normal set of swimming goggles. The photochromatic lenses it sports really work. This key feature makes them great for swimming in any light condition, inside or in open water. Here is a snapshot of them in lower light and bright sunshine, taken on our wintery porch:

The lenses are completely clear indoors, showing a slight tint in the shade.
The lenses are completely clear indoors, showing a slight tint in the shade.
Within seconds, the photochromatic lenses darken in bright sunlight.
Within seconds, the photochromatic lenses are dark.

The package includes a hard, well-made case to keep those expensive lenses nice and safe:

IMG_2286
Grippy and tough: The Flex Titanium comes in a nice shell, which is a big improvement over the older version

As regular readers know, I have been using the previous model, the trusty Predator Flex Reactor (no Titanium!). Sadly, its bridge snapped a few days ago, after many, many swims in pools and oceans.

In my gear bag, you will also find the red Polarized version and the copper tint (“gold and black”) ones. Oh, and one of the kids has borrowed the one everyone else seems to like, but I actually hardly ever use: the silvery Predator Mirror. It is not in the picture but gets a lot of use in the family.

Predator trifecta: Predator Flex Polarized in red, the Predator Polarized with a copper tin, and the Flex Titanium Reactor.
Predator trifecta: Predator Flex Polarized in red, the Predator Polarized with a copper tint, and the Flex Titanium Reactor.

And that is the major point: Those Zoggs Predator goggles may have daft names. But they have

  • a fantastic comfy fit, even for noggins like yours truly’s. And apparently just about everyone else. My wife, the kids and friends – they all love them.
  • excellent visibility, thanks to curved lenses
  • a snug and very water-proof fit around the eyes
  • easily adjustable straps, that quickly adapt (blimey I remember the pesky straps on those pool goggles of my youth.)
  • four-way flexible nose bridges that help ensure a snug fit over your eyes

Now if they just could make those bridges snap proof :-)

The new Titaniums are very much like the other ones, though the new pair seems a bit less comfortable and caused a tiny bit of leakage, despite several attempts to better adjust them. They just did not perfectly encase my eye sockets (I have fairly large head, but nothing out of the ordinary, really). My theory is that this is due to the pair being brand new; they need wearing in, like a pair of jeans. However, I also think the rubber that goes around the eyes is slightly different in this model. Not sure. Will obviously keep an eye on this issue, if you pardon the pun. It is a very minor nuisance really, since the pool water I train in is very clean and has no chlorine (not sure what the filtration system is, but it is brilliant).

But come a day in the ocean, or in a chlorinated old-skool-pool, and this needs to work. Especially for a pair of goggles that cost me a whopping 50 euro.

Day 79 of the Great Big Marathon 10k Swimming Adventure: “You splash so much it is scary!”

Been very busy, and partly due to lots of swimming, partly due to other stuff, but got to the pool every time as planned! Or, to be more precise: The 5am rise has proven ever so worth it. Even on the busiest of days, I can get a swim in of a morning. Fantastic! Ok, Friday was not so fantastic (see below).

But let me go in backwards chronological order of the last three days of swimming here. Since I am refusing to drop almost 60 Euros on a Garmin ANT+ Stick, I will continue to hand-type the basic information till either that stick turns up (it has to be somewhere in our place) or I will upgrade the whole watch. I have been looking at the Garmin Fenix 3 and the Suunto variety. There is a birthday coming up in a few months….

Today, Tuesday 3 March: 4650m at 1:40/100m on average, 34 Swolf

  • 200m free warmup
  • 1000m free in 15:50 – pushed myself for that a bit, and was disappointed it wasn’t faster
  • 8x50m sprints at between 37 and 40 secs per 50m; took breathers of about 20secs in between. Man this hurt! Sprints are not my favourite. At all.
  • 575m backstroke with pullbuoy
  • 600m mixed drills (kicking, strokes, sideswimming…)
  • 500m with paddles and pullbuoy at 8:03
  • 250m no paddles but pullbuoy in 4:00 on the dot
  • 1000m free at casual pace (though I felt it) in 17:04
  • 125m (?) breast stroke with dolphin kick to wind down

Overall felt good but less enthusiastic.

Yesterday, Monday 2 March: 4775m at 1:40/100m on average, 35 Swolf

  • 200m free warmup at 1:33/100m
  • 1850m free at 1:43/100m in 31:48 overall [then I had to stop and adjust my goggles; the trusty green Zoggs Predator Reactor Flex broke on Friday, so at the moment I am swimming with my back-up tinted red Predator Flex; I have ordered replacements though]
  • 2150m free at 1:44m/100m in 37:12 overall
  • 400m mixed drills
  • 175m breast stroke to cool down in 4:28 overall

Friday, Friday 27 February: 4175m at 1:40m/100m on average, 34 Swolf

  • Sprint sets 7x100m at between 1:20/100m and 1:30/100m
  • 2000m free at 1:39/100m in 32:54 all up – was pushing myself
  • 300m mixed drills
  • 450m backstroke with pullbuoy, at 1:57/100m
  • 500m at 1:45/100m in 8:43 overall – casual but with grit
  • 225m breast at 1:57m to cool down

So that looks like a good swim, right? And it was. Between sprints, another regular swimmer came, watched me sprint and before even getting in the water basically told me I splashed too much. “You use too much strength! Granted, you are fast, but you splash so much it is scary!” I thanked her and tried to explain that I was doing sprint sets, but I think she might have a point. Will try and use the next opportunity to improve my stroke technique. Less splashing, more dashing.

You are splashing too much! Not an actual image of my inelegant stroke technique (CC Image: Pixabay)
You are splashing too much! Not an actual image of my inelegant stroke technique (CC Image: Pixabay)
But then it happened. As I got out and jumped into the shower, I took off my goggles, my trusty Zoggs Predator Flex Reactors, and they broke, right on the bridge! Snap! Once dry and on the subway, I asked Zoggs via twitter which ones to get to replace them, and they promptly responded, and suggested to grab these silly-named beauties: The Predator Flex Titanium Reflex. They are brand new but already available; an updated version of the Reactors, 10 Euros cheaper even. So I ordered them with one or two other bits and bobs. Will post this stuff when it hopefully arrives later this week.

http://ww.zoggs.com/news-and-events/entry/show/Predator-Flex-Titanium-Reactor-2015

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.

Day 70 of the Great Big Marathon 10k Swimming Adventure: Restarting the training plan and dreaming of Rottnest Island

Have you seen this stick? My Garmin ANT+ has gone missing. (CC-Image via Probike Kit)
Have you seen this stick? My Garmin ANT+ has gone missing. (CC-Image via Probike Kit)

First day back at work today – and first day properly back in the training schedule therefore! This morning, I clocked 4300 meters or 170 laps with an average time of 1.44/100m and a SWOLF of 35 all up.

Since I STILL have not found my Garmin stick to transfer the training data from my watch (argh!), here is a brief overview of the actual sets:

  • 1000m in 15:51 minutes (at 1.35/100m) at one gear higher than cruising speed, but felt comfy
  • stretches
  • 1000m in 16:48 minutes (at 1:41/100m) with paddles, no pullbuoy; felt tghe
  • 500m in 8:22 minutes (at 1:40/100m) cruising
  • 400m drills kickbord back and front, backstroke with pullbuoy
  • 1200m in 22:04 (at 1:50/100m) just cruising VERY casually, lots of bilateral breathing
  • 150m in 3:20 (at 2:13/100m) breast stroke with dolphin kick, just winding down
  • 50m just paddling about, cooling down

Man, it is so good to be in the water first thing in the morning. Words can not only inadequately describe it. Speaking of which: To make sure I get more k’s in – and avoid the morning traffic, which starts to build up at about 6am – I am actually getting up at 5am now, so I can hit the water at about 6am, when the place opens. That means I have 1.5 hours training time, and if need be, can push it to 2hrs (though that will be 2016 methinks).

Have I mentioned that I am actually a night owl, not a morning person? If someone would have predicted this regime back in the many years I ran the early news shift on radio in Australia, I would have laughed it off. And now I am loving it.

Absolutely loved the Rottnest Channel Swim. Since I was on “holiday”, I took the time to watch the coverage online – just go to http://tenplay.com.au/sport/rottnest to have a look – and see Kane Redford come out of the water first, and Grace van der Byl take first place in the women’s category in a brilliant finish. You swim for almost 20k, from the glorious Cottesloe Beach in Perth, Western Australia to Rottnest. The swimmers doing this Open Water event were absolute champs. One described it like swimming in a washing machine.

I had the good fortune of going on a dive trip to Rottnest a few years ago. I still remember how different the warm Indian ocean water and environment was from the temperate Pacific waters of Melbourne. Lots of sand and beautiful scenery under water.

After watching the coverage, I dreamt of swimming to Rottnest myself. Who knows, maybe one day I will get a chance to do so.

Rottnest Channel Swim - start of one wave back in 2004. Since then, the event has grown enormously. (CC Image via Wikimedia by Rst)
Rottnest Channel Swim – start of one wave back in 2004. Since then, the event has grown enormously. (CC Image via Wikimedia by Rst)

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.

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.