Category Archives: Swimming

Measuring Pee-per-hour!

Enjoyed my rest day yesterday (Sunday), and got up early for a swim before work this morning.

Started at 6am, and watched the beautiful sunrise, as I swam. Did 110 minutes, my longest ever swim to date! I didn’t wear my wetsuit today, as the water in the pool is warm, so I wore a triathlon suit, to help prevent wearing holes in my shoulders with constant chin-brushing.

I drank For Goodness Shake sports drink whilst I was in the pool and then had breakfast before leaving for the office.

Warning – stop reading now if you don’t like talk of bodily functions :o)

Measuring pee-per-hour!

I took a receptacle into the pool-house with me and used it for peeing into. This meant I could measure the amount of pee-per-hour, sorry, but this is important information for an endurance athlete :o) Worked out to about 0.5 Litre per hour. This will help me calculate how much I need to be drinking to ensure I don’t dehydrate. These things are crucial for a successful endurance race.

So, workout done for now. 40 minutes sleep at lunch-time. Boot-camp circuits class tonight.

Wear and Tear!

Swam about 3 miles this morning, 1.5hrs. Felt good and strong and I was able to keep up a good speed. I think my rest over the weekend has done me good.

Unfortunately, my swimming stroke means my chin brushes my shoulders on both sides, and constant repetition has meant that I have sore patches on my shoulders – another couple of sore patches to add to my growing collection!

I wore my wetsuit in the pool today, and when I took it off I noticed that I’ve worn holes in the shoulders – again this is the chin-brushing-the-shoulders problem. At least it protected my skin! Oh well, this is my old wetsuit, so hopefully, the newer one will last me this season.

Talking of wear and tear, I’ve just bought some Reskin bike patches for cycling. They are little reusable anti-friction patches that protect the skin from chafing. These are for the little area where the sitting bones meet the saddle. I’ll be trying them out on my next long ride.

An update on my recovery from surgery

I am now free of my cast but have an Aircast to wear.  This is a ‘ski boot’ like device which I put on to hobble about but can take off for physio treatment and to aid scar healing etc.


I went to the physio last week and he will let me start to swim next week if the scar is healed sufficiently.  The healing was going OK apart from one small area of the scar which was a bit sore.  The reason for this became apparent on Thursday when I did the typical bloke thing and was picking at the scar.  I thought I found a bit of dead skin but as I tugged at it, it was clear that it was the tip of an internal stitch.  I duly despatched it with a sharp tug and pulled out a piece of thread about 10mm long.


I was really pleased as I thought this was what was delaying the healing and now it would heal quickly and swimming would be on the cards.  However, Friday had me picking at it again only to find another piece of thread.  This time I tugged very hard but it didn’t want to shift.  Off I went to clinic to let the nurse have a look.  She decided that it wasn’t going to come out either and cut it as short as possible and dressed the wound in the hope that it would start to dissolve and allow the scar to heal properly.  So, I am hoping that when I remove the dressing tomorrow the scar will have healed sufficiently, as some form of exercise would be really good. 


The nurse also gave me a severe talking to as she found out I had been walking around at home without my boot on.  This is clearly a no-no and she read me the riot act.


If I can start swimming next week that’ll certainly help me to start to regain my fitness.  The next step is more physio and then in three weeks time the ski boot may be able to be dispensed with.  If the Prof (Surgeon) is happy with that the physio will let me do some static cycling and this should really help speed my recovery and with any luck soon after I may be able to start jogging.


We had some friends round last night and one of them was working hard to convince me that my Achilles will never be the same.  That’s the second person to try to ‘be helpful’ with information about my recovery.  Is it just the nature of us Brits to be so bloody pessimistic?  I include me in that of course.


Meanwhile I am gradually getting my RAAM experience down on paper but it is taking much longer than I thought and I feel that I am only covering the surface of things and not really getting in to the nitty-gritty of all the finer points of the personal interactions and emotions that the team went through.  Maybe I’ll have to put that in later as a separate section rather than threading it throughout the entire read.

What a difference a week makes

Last Bank holiday Monday the brick session was aborted due to a temperature with wind chill of -2 centigrade.  Yesterday, Sunday only 6 days later it was 25 centigrade at 18.00 hours and likely to have been higher through the middle part of the day.  That’s a good news bad news story.  It is excellent training conditions for what is likely to be a hot Austria in July but it did mean the session was hard due to the heat and humidity.  The session was completed by Zac and me and we planned to do a 1 hour swim, 5 hour bike ride and 2 hour run.  We did actually complete the timings planned but I would have liked to do more mileage.  I clocked up our distances at 2.1 mile swim, 86 mile ride and 13.1 mile run.  Quite a bit too slow to achieve my Austria target but there are many variables.

The swim went pretty much according to plan.  I used my new wetsuit for the first time and the lake was mirror calm. 
Austria is likely to be choppy due to the other 2,500 people in the water at the same time and that’s without the intervention of weather which may affect the water conditions.

The cycle leg went OK but our average speed was slower than we hoped for.  One of the things which will make a huge difference to me achieving my target time in Austria is the road surface.  Here in the UK there are many poor road surfaces for cycling.  You probably don’t even notice in your car but on a bike with no suspension, very thin tyres which are inflated to 110psi (a car would be about 32psi) and a saddle with no padding you tend to notice every bump and crevice.  More importantly, all this bumping around slows the bike down a lot.  So I am still hoping that Sunday’s average speed of just over 17mph translates in to the required average speed for the 112 miles in Austria of 20mph as they have much smoother road surfaces and there’ll be no need to stop at junctions etc.  So, whilst it’s not a certainty I am hoping to achieve my bike leg time.

The run was another story.  Both Zac and I found it quite tough and our pace was way off my target time.  It didn’t help that we ran through some grass meadows which were slightly flooded and so we got very wet feet and I also think it was probably the most humid part of the day.  I need to be doing a 3 hours 50 minute marathon in Austria and our pace for the half we ran on Sunday equates to a marathon finish time of just over 4 hours.

All in all Sunday’s session was excellent training and the closest thing we have had to race weather conditions to date.  Only time will tell how the race goes and I must admit after the session on Sunday I started to get a bit twitchy. There’s nothing unusual there, in fact nerves can be a good thing and its about now that I would expect to start to feel slight pangs.

I’ll share some stats with you about Sunday’s session:

Calories burnt:

Swim – 500 kcal [estimated] (240kcal per mile)

Bike – 4,319 kcal (50 kcal per mile, 864 kcal per hour)

Run – 1,488 kcal (113 kcal per mile, 726 kcal per hour)

TOTAL – 6,307

Calories consumed during exercise 1,807

Liquid drunk (not counting the lake water ingested during the swim) 4.5 litres

It’s nice to burn off calories to the tune of nearly 2lbs of fat, and it doesn’t matter how much I try, I just can’t consume that much on a hard training day.  Although by the end of the 8 hours of exercise I get fed up with drinking water and taking in chemical flavoured carbohydrate preparations and even though I also take on the bike bread pudding, date and honey bars, fig biscuits and malt loaf.  Much of which Leigh bakes, once I have finished the training session I just want some ordinary savoury food, but can’t actually eat much.  The body is a funny old thing eh!

Today is a rest day but the rest of the week holds in store two sessions per day except for Friday which has only one.  Next weekend consists of a brick of a 70 mile ride and a 30 minute run on one day and the other is a 90 minute run.  Then there are three weeks of taper.  As of today there are 27 days before the event and I am sure they will fly by.  I’ll need to watch my weight gain isn’t too horrendous when I taper as I don’t want to carry “excess baggage” around the Austria course.

All for now, I’ll update you again soon.



The new wetsuit

Here’s me in the new wetsuit, bought in time for the Austria Ironman

Nick in the new wetsuit

It’s the same make as my last one but a newer model.  However, it is last seasons design but that means I managed to buy it at a good discount.  It performed well enough and here’s hoping to it taking minutes off my swim time! 

Bank holiday Monday was a wash-out!

Monday started before my alarm went off.  I awoke early and could hear the howling wind and the rain hammering against the windows.  As you can imagine I wasn’t looking forward to the 7 hour session.  I got dressed and drove to the lake hoping that no one else would show.  On route I noticed that the roads were deep with puddles and a large amount of debris had been blown from the trees.  I also noticed that the car’s outside temperature gauge was showing me that it was only 5 degrees Celsius (about 40 F).  I got to the lake and bugger it, there were other Team Bedford chaps there.  Mind you their faces told the same story.  Anyhow, we donned our wet suits and got in the lake, a now very cold and very murky lake.  The rain had stirred up the sediment, so vision was reduced and the wind was whipping up the waves making spotting and breathing harder than usual.  When it’s this choppy you have to lift your head higher than normal to ensure additional quantities of lake water aren’t consumed.  After three laps (about 2,500 metres) I noticed that some of the guys had already exited the water and decided to go in a lap early as I was feeling the cold.  Once out of the water my body temperature dropped rapidly and changing became a challenge, as now not only was it difficult to put clothes on to my damp body but my hands wouldn’t work properly.  I managed to put on all my cycling gear and was wishing I had brought more layers.  The rain was coming down quite hard and it was still very windy and we all were feeling the cold.  I decided that it wouldn’t be sensible to ride for three-plus hours as I didn’t think I would warm up and if I did have a mechanical failure of some sort the situation would only get worse.  I got in my car, still wearing all of my layers and drove home with the intention of doing some riding on the turbo trainer before going for the run.  On the way home I had the heater in the car on full and still couldn’t warm up so 25 minutes later I arrived home and got straight in to a hot bath to warm up.  After this I really didn’t feel like doing a turbo session or a run as not only was I now not mentally prepared for it, it was still raining very hard and extremely windy.  I had a sleep on the settee (a bit of a recurring theme here!) and a bit of lunch and then decided it would be nice to pop in to Milton Keynes with Leigh and do a bit of window shopping and spend some time together.  It cost me though as we ended up buying some summer clothes.  Crazy when you think what it was like outside but ever the optimists.


Later that day on the local news it was reported that the Luton Carnival was cancelled due to the rain, high winds and temperatures of minus 2 Celsius when taking in to account the wind chill factor.  No wonder it felt cold and whilst I was peed off about not completing the day’s session it was the right decision.  Looking back I have not missed a major weekend session throughout the 21 weeks of training to date and it is now a matter of re-jigging next weekend’s session.  It was to have been 100 mile ride and a 45 minute run on Saturday and a 15 mile run on Sunday but I think, weather dependant, it will be a brick of a 75 minute swim, 5 hour ride and a 2 hour run on Saturday and on Sunday a short ride and run to aid recovery from the long brick.


I have mentioned in previous blog entries that I am feeling tired at the moment and this weekend should help ease that slightly.  At this stage in the 27 week schedule it is inevitable that the body and mind feels the toll, and it is a case of maintaining a balance to ensure good quality training sessions take place whilst adequate rest is taken.  With all endurance events it is the final weeks where you are your most vulnerable to injury and illness. I only need to maintain the momentum for another three weeks and then I start my three week taper, which should see my energy levels rise.  I am also likely to see an increase in weight but this is a managed increase and is done to ensure adequate fuelling and hydration levels before the start of the event.


I’ll let you know how this week goes early next week.  Until then, cheers!



By the way, if you have any questions about this or any of my blog entries please let me know.  I have been asked about a previous entry where I referred to ‘cleats’ and ‘float’.  These are terms used to describe aspects of cycling shoes and pedals.  In all walks of life there is a ‘hidden’ language or jargon so if I use it in my blog and you wonder what I am on about, just ask by clicking on the “comments” button at the bottom of each new entry.  That also means others can see your question and my response.

Some serious training, and time for a little DIY

I had to juggle things around due to work and other commitments but I managed to get most sessions in and they went according to plan.  Saturday was a 4,000 metre lake swim followed by a 30 mile ride.  The swim was OK with some very nice warm spots in the lake and exiting the swim and changing for the bike was smooth.  A few of the Team Bedford guys followed Kevin (thanks for planning the route K) around a nice 30 mile ride.  We had to stop a couple of times as we dropped a couple of riders and waited at junctions so they wouldn’t go wrong, but we still average 19 mph.  My legs felt good and I was looking forward to a rest day on Sunday and then a swim, bike and run brick on Monday.  In hindsight, we also didn’t realise how lucky we were with the weather having been able to complete the session in the dry.


Saturday afternoon I managed to dig a new hole for the line post and concrete a new piece of tubing into the ground ready to fit the line post in.  I go a bit over the top on DIY and always do a belt-and-braces job and I have concreted in this huge ‘scud missile’ sized piece of tubing (I think it was an old road sign upright), but we sure as hell won’t ever have a line that isn’t upright!  This is the third year we haven’t had a line post so, with a washing line in operation we can cut down on the electricity bills and have fresh smelling clothes.  However, the new position for the line is under one of the oak trees in our garden and I suspect we will have bird’s doo and sticky sappy stuff from the tree on our freshly laundered garments!  I managed to finish this job before it started to rain.  Rain that would go on for the next two days without any let up.  But Saturday I also managed to get a couple of smaller DIY jobs done and had a bit of a tidy up in the garage.  I say garage, what I really mean is a place where a car (in fact two cars) could be stored but where I keep all of my tools and toys.

Open Water Swimming

The week has absolutely flown by and work has had me all over the place.  However, I have managed to fit my scheduled training in which included a couple of lake swims, run and bike sessions.  The lake has cooled down somewhat due to the amount of rain we have received and it isn’t as clear as it normally is.  But I do enjoy lake swimming as there is plenty to see and focus on as I trawl around the course we use. 

If you have never swum in a wetsuit, it takes a bit of getting used to.  The first hurdle is to get into it.  Steve, a friend from work borrowed one last Tuesday and joined us for his first ever open-water swim.  Although the suit was borrowed and a tad on the small side, Steve worked a fair sweat up and knackered himself out before he even entered the water.  The suit should fit snugly enough to allow water in and create a warm layer but not be so tight that it restricts movement and breathing but also not so loose that it allows water to ‘puddle’ in the suit and weigh the wearer down.  So fit is important but also the suit’s design.  Different thicknesses of neoprene are used to create buoyancy which suits the wearer and helps to keep him/her in the ideal swimming position.  Once you’ve got a suit that fits all you need to do is make sure that any areas likely to rub are lubricated.  This should be done with something which will not affect the suit.  Petroleum jelly (Vaseline) shouldn’t be used as being petroleum based it will perish the wetsuit. 

The other odd thing about open-water swimming is that despite being in the open it can feel very claustrophobic.  It might be the fact you are wearing a restrictive suit or it could be that often you can’t see anything once your head goes in the water due to the murkiness, or it could be the cold feeling on your head and in your ears,  or a combination of the above.

This of course is before you actually enter a race where all of the above applies and on top of that you are in the middle of a thrashing mass and get the odd kick and punch by the flailing limbs of other competitors.  Once the swim is done though all you have to do is a cycle ride and a run.  Job done!

A chilly open water swim

Tuesday I met a dozen or so Team Bedford chaps and we donned our wetsuits and did a lake swim.  Various times and distance was covered by the team and I ended up doing about 3,000 metres.  A bit cold to start but soon warmed, although I did get a twinge of cramp in my quadriceps which isn’t that unusual for me on a long open water suited swim.

Swimming Coming Along Nicely

I am really pleased with how my swimming is shaping up and I am thinking about the possibility of a new wetsuit.  Not sure what to do there but there are lots of new entrants to the triathlon equipment market but mostly the suits have to be ‘off the peg’.  Unfortunately, I am quite stocky for my height and I might have to have one made to measure but that limits me to which suit I can choose.  I’ll think on it.