Posts filed under ‘Week 05’

19/10/08 [35]: autumn leaves

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totals: 35 days, 652 lengths, 764 lengths to go, £188.00 sponsorship

Arrived at the gym this afternoon to be told that the indoor pool was closed “because a child had had an accident” and the water needed to be cleaned through. So, despite it being decidedly chilly, there was nothing for it but to go outside and swim under the darkening sky through water littered with autumn leaves (I’ve got a great recording on a cassette tape somewhere of the jazz trumpeter Miles Davis playing “Autumn Leaves” and now that I have written those words and reminded myself of it, I am now going to have to dig it out and listen to again…). Anyway, the water in the outdoor pool had been heated to the point where it’s surface was steaming nicely so the whole experience felt rather Icelandic, even if the energy used to heat the pool probably doubled Plymouth’s annual contribution to global warming.

I completed 25 lengths, but as the outdoor pool is only 20 metres long this only counts as 20 lengths towards my target – still a useful contribution to the total from a Sunday afternoon. As far as overall progress is concerned I am currently ahead by just over half a week (62 lengths) but I’m not going to be able to get to the pool so much this week so although I’m confident I’ll stay in credit, I’m not expecting to be so far ahead of schedule this time next week. Here’s the end of Week 5 swim worm – the halfway mark (708 lengths) beckons sometime later this week:

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October 19, 2008 at 7:29 pm 2 comments

16/10/08 [32]: the power of small

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totals: 32 days, 632 lengths, 784 lengths to go, £178.00 sponsorship

Another 32 lengths this morning during which I found myself almost alone in the pool for long periods. I find that the quieter the pool is, the better I swim – I suppose this is because the fewer other swimmers around the less I have to direct my attention to avoiding them and the less I am distracted by their presence. Today, I was able to simply plough up and down following the blue line at my preferred place in the pool just next to the laned-off section (I like swimming in the slow lane too but only when I don’t have to share it).

As I swam back and forth today I was really struck by the power of breaking a substantial activity into small steps. For this challenge this idea works at the level of breaking down the 1416 lengths required into chunks of ~30 lengths, but it also works at the level of breaking the chunk down into individual lengths. If I think about the whole challenge or the whole chunk of lengths that I want to complete in a swimming session it is easy to be daunted by what lies ahead and become a bit dispirited. Simply swimming one length, then another, then another and trying not to think about the total is much better – I suddenly find that I have completed 12, or 20 or 30 and then my chunk of lengths is done. Unfortunately, it’s actually quite hard to isolate my thoughts in this way because I have to work hard to count the lengths and not forget how many I have done and this activity prevents me entering a ‘mental zone’ which doesn’t consider the total. One of the tricks is to try not to stop at the end of each length. As soon as I stop I start to think about how thigns are going, I start to want to rest and become mentally distracted. If I get to the end, turn straight around and swim then the lengths just keep accumulating.

So, today’s timswim entry is dedicated to the “power of small” – the idea that you can achieve a larger goal by simply taking a smaller action over and over again. It’s a well known principle and can be applied in many aspects of everyday life but it’s well worth remembering because it really works.

October 16, 2008 at 9:58 am Leave a comment

15/10/08 [31]: muscles and moobs

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totals: 31 days, 600 lengths, 816 lengths to go, £178.00 sponsorship

30 lengths this morning – another useful chunk with more to follow tomorrow hopefully (though getting up in the dark early mornings is really not something I enjoy that much). But that’s enough about the distance, it’s time I got personal – don’t read on if you don’t want to conjure up a picture of me sans appareil (see – I‘m getting ready for arriving at the other side already).

I’ve now been swimming towards this challenge for 31 and the average number of lengths per day that I have completed is just over 19. At the start of the challenge I was not “unfit” and I was not, how shall I put this, “overly-large”. However, it is fair to say that over the last few years I had begun to acquire something of an excess around the middle, a somewhat flabby “upper-body” and I wasn’t exactly strong of arm. Several years ago I broke my left knee-cap and so my left leg, in particular, has been a bit on the weak side since then (and my knee grinds audibly when I walk down steps). So, it’s time to take stock of what has happened to me in the last month or so, and although you might not notice any difference if you see me in the corridor, there certainly is a difference. Working from the bottom up… I now have rather well-developed calf muscles and much tighter thighs (I imagine that my knee joint is now much better supported but this isn’t something I can particularly detect at the moment). Around the middle there’s a huge change – when I bend to the side there’s now much less flesh fighting for somewhere to go and I reckon that by the end it’s quite possible that it will be possible to see the muscles, not just trust that they are there. Like my calf muscles, my upper arm muscles (biceps or triceps? – I’ve never known the difference) are now also becoming well developed. I can do that thing where you bend your arm and show off a big hard lump of bulging muscle (although if I am honest the lumps are not that big yet). But what about that prized possession of many a middle-aged man? I’m talking “moobs” here. Just as mine were starting to gain a life of their own, and just as I was starting to dream of a lucrative side job working as a body double for Jordan or Pamela Anderson this new future has been snatched away from me – what a lucky escape that was – for me, but perhaps most importantly, for all of you!

October 15, 2008 at 10:17 am 1 comment

14/10/08 [30]: awake to darkness

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totals: 30 days, 570 lengths, 846 lengths to go, £178.00 sponsorship

Another pre-work swimming session today and another 32 lengths which has taken me to just over 40% of the way across the channel. One of the bi-products of getting up and out and about earlier than I normally would is that I get to experience the seasonal change in daylight hours much more clearly. Whereas at the start of the challenge back in September I was waking to bright clear mornings, now it is very definitely dark when I leave home and the car headlights go on (even on the way home). Today started off cloudy which added to the overall gloom. To add to the experience for some reason half of the lights that norally illuminate the pool have been switched off this week so each length involves a mini-journey from darkness to light or vice versa.

October 14, 2008 at 12:29 pm Leave a comment

13/10/08 [29]: sore arm

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totals: 29 days, 538 lengths, 878 lengths to go, £178.00 sponsorship

First swim of what could be a big few days as in theory there is nothing stopping me getting to the pool for four consecutive days. I completed 32 lengths today despite being slightly limited for time. I am hoping I can put in at least the same distance each day which will take me up to 45% of the total distance. It will be interesting to see whether fatigue creeps in later in the week. I may not be helped by having pulled a muscle in my left arm a bit on my first length today – it didn’t hinder me too much but it’s feeling a bit sore now.

October 13, 2008 at 1:37 pm Leave a comment


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