With part 1 describing the why, the following few paragraphs are possibly about the what, how and largely the lessons I learned.
My mate, Jamie, with whom I have largely been encouraged into this type of training, suggested a triathlon. It sounded challenging enough and much more than ‘just running’ 10k or something. Something that would require training. Oh, and a bike!
Now, Jamie operates on a different time schedule to me. I had slowly started to adjust my body clock to be a little more…nocturnal. The fight game doesn’t tend to get out of bed really early in my experience. In the UK we battle heavy eyelids to watch the finest fighters do battle at 3am. Also, most martial arts classes are in the evening. However, it turns out Jamie has a few friends who also follow the sun rise and on a Saturday morning at 6:30 they descend on various lakes around the country ready for the plunge into the often murky water to grapple with reeds and dodge duck shit.
So armed with a set of goggles, flip flops and towel, I jumped in Jamie’s car and headed to the lake. Now, I once promised myself that I would only ever get up around the 5am hour to go on holiday. And y’know when you are on the way to the airport really early, but there are quite a few cars on the road? Likelihood is they’re going to the lake! It wasn’t even 7am and the car park was full. A fantastic range of different measured water babies circled the 1000m course. I joined in but not before I squeezed into a hired wet suit (tip: other people have definitely pissed in them- get your own), covered my neck in Vaseline (tip: I later learned not to use Vaseline as the petroleum corrodes the wet suit! Use Glide and apply it to your neck, wrists and calves so you can pull the suit off without looking like you are resisting arrest whilst on speed) and pulled a thin piece of rubber over my carefully coiffured hair.
Despite the early mornings, I actually really enjoyed the swims. It was the summer, so that helped. Also, you can swim the 1000m in about 20 mins and be home with an 8 still showing on the clock. Plenty of time before jiu jitsu at 11am! I didn’t however enjoy swallowing the lake’s water or dealing with leaky goggles. I didn’t particularly enjoy being smoked by old people either, but I was and am getting very used to this. I actually now prefer the open water swim as you can establish a rhythm and you can’t possibly quit after say 20 laps as you’d still be another few hundred metres from the jetty and in the way of super gran and her buddies on their second lap. I just now accept the environment, concentrate on breathing and make sure I look out for traffic ahead every 6 strokes. The next stage is to the tailor the swim for triathlons which means being conservative with the use of your legs as you need them fresh for the bike and run. I am looking to enlist some training for this next season.
I also discovered that lots of cans of Coke are sold at the club house as apparently it kills all the bad stuff you may have just swallowed from the lake (we’ve all seen the video where Coke is used to clean up the chrome car bumpers, right?). I confess I have once partaken in this heathen activity. Jamie telling me about worms, illness, poo and other such things tipped me over the edge whilst I was in a susceptible state i.e. sleep deprived and exhausted. Coca Cola are a frightening, evil company and I can’t recommend this, specially at 8am. It’s a slippery slope, kids! There are concentrated citrus additives that you can get from health stores for cleaning food etc. This could be a better bet.
I’m yet to do proper interval training for swimming, but I’m keen to give it a go next season. For me, getting into cold water and smashing out 1km will do for this year. I got my own wet suit, but didn’t go mad with the budget. They can be expensive pieces of kit. Also they are not very forgiving in terms of sizing so beware. Mine is still so tight it’s like swimming with a resistance band attached to each arm, but its orange and looks sick!