Alternative aquathlon and brick session

I was still bouncing around on an adrenaline high after Saturday morning’s parkrun, and I thought my legs would benefit from a bit of a stretch, so I decided to go for a splash in the pool in the afternoon.

I’ve missed swimming. I used to get a bit fretful if I didn’t get in the water on a regular basis, but since I started running and training regularly, it’s not so bad. Still it was a shock to discover I only made one swim session in September. It would have been my activity of choice as a recovery from the Great North Run, but blocked sinuses put paid to that.

I also have this theory that since I learnt to swim with proper bilateral breathing, I actually swim better when I’m a bit tired. I’m less like to thrash around and use my legs to propel myslef along and more likely to be steady, smooth and slow, which helps make sure I have time to breathe.

So off into a nice empty pool, a couple of warm up lengths and I was dying to challenge myself. In November, I’m doing my first aquathlon – a 500m swim and 5k run. So I wanted to try 500m and get a feel for how long it would take me.

Now 500m may not sound a lot, but it took me quite a while to get to 400m in one go and, as I said, I haven’t swum for a while. 

So off I went, slow and steady, breathing every third stroke. My first error was failing to calculate how many lengths I needed to do in the 20m pool. And when you’re trying to count breaths, and keep tally of how many lengths you’ve done, simple mental maths can be a bit tricky. But I settled for 25 and kept counting them down.

And I don’t know if it’s because I’ve taken a break from swimming, or because I was relaxed from running that morning, but mostly it felt easy. Just a nice rhythm and a push off the sides at the end of each length. I did suffer a breathing malfunction that had me spluttering and swimming head out of the water for about half a length, but even that’s progress, as previously it would have stopped me completely. I got to the end and stopped the watch at 12:02.

A bit of a breather and a length of breast stroke and I wasn’t ready to call it a day. So I decided to try and swim it again, with the option of stopping at 400m if I was really tiring. And off I went.

Now, I did lose count of the lengths at one point and realised I was wrong when I was counting an odd number when I was travelling up the pool and it should have been an even one. So I glanced at my watch and worked out I’d probably done 11 lengths and carried on to complete another 500m set (I think) in 11:56. I was either an awful lot slower and two lengths down, or spot on and a teensy bit quicker. I did go hell for leather in the last two lengths.

In any case a 5k parkrun followed (after a wee bit of a break) by a 1km swim should mean next month’s aquathlon will be no bother. And with an evening meal at our friend’s coffee shop to look forward to, I felt like I’d built up some credit ahead of the syrup sponge pudding.

My good friend Katie ran a 10k for Cancer Research today. We’ve been exchanging messages over facebook and twitter and if we lived closer, I would have gone and run it with her. As it was, I said I would run on Sunday and think of her.

After Saturday’s Parkrun and the swim, my legs and glutes definitely knew they had worked hard, but I wanted to do something to get the heart racing again. So, back to the gym for Ema’s tough spin class, new trainers in my bag ready for their first rumble on the treadmill afterwards.

When training for triathlon, as I hope to do next year, one of the things to practice going straight from a bike ride into a run.  It’s called a brick session. So my spin class followed by a quick run would give me a sort of taster.

I’m liking the spin class. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, you basically exercise on static bikes in the gym, simulating rinding up hills by increasing the level of resistance on the bikes. They are normally accompanied by thumping dance soundtracks to help you get some rhythm in your legs.

It’s a great cardio vascular workout, with a fun, tough and energetic instructor and a good introduction to bike skills for me, particularly as there aren’t a great many hills where I live. So this is a sure fire way to get my adductors burning.

I was saying to Ema how I expected it to hurt after my run and swim, and she mentioned she does another class called Yoga-lates – a mixture of Yoga, Pilates and a bit of Tai Chi, if I wanted a stretch. And well, I had no plans for the afternoon…

So a sweaty spin, quick mile and bit in the new shoes on the treadmill, then off home to grab a bite to eat, change into some less sweaty kit and off to a brand new class. It was busy, which was a good sign, and there were some very limber bodies in there.

I do a regular pilates class, and I like to make sure I stay pretty flexible, but this really showed me how my flexibility has changed since I stopped my yoga class. Some of the positions I recognised from yoga, and although my sideways movement remains good, my hips felt really tight, probably from the concentration on running. It was good to do some balance and core work too. All in all a great class and a nice way of mixing up my training.

But I that’s enough for this weekend. I may even take a day off training tomorrow. I think I’ve earned it.