Monday, 9 July 2018

I'm just going to swim the dog...

The river jump at the Whaley Waltz - definitely the most exciting bit! Photo Credits - Chris Tetley
In my last blog post I reported on my races and mentioned that my calf was strained following the brutal Lantern Pike Dash course.  Unfortunately, the NHS information was correct and it does indeed take 8 weeks or so of rest to settle.  

I originally thought the injury occured from running down a steep hillside during the race, but in actual fact I think it actually tore or badly strained during the uphill element.  It took a good week of me thinking my calf was just stiff and needed stretching/rollering before it actually 'pinged' during one of my Run Together sessions.  I was running up a slight incline and it just became so painful that I had to stop and then walk.  I did manage to jog home on the flat but in the week following this episode, I found I was limping even when out walking the dog.  After some help from Google and my sports masseur Bridget, I realised I had torn or strained my Gastrocnemius muscle and was not going to be able to fix it in a hurry.  

Being injured is gutting.  You get yourself fit and then bam, it all stops and your mental and physical state suffer for weeks!  Fortunately, I had decided to focus my training on more bike miles and swim sessions anyway, and both these activities were encouraged in my recovery reading.  
Going, going...

The weeks came and went and so did my planned fell races.  Grindleford Fell race - my favourite of the season and the 16 mile Kinder Trog were out.  I decided to withdraw from the Hathersage Hilly Triathlon in late July as I was hoping for a PB and this was obviously not going to happen in my current state.  

During the last few weeks we have been having an amazing heatwave.  I absolutely love hot weather and decided to bite the bullet and have a go at open water swimming in my local reservoir - Toddbrook.  This was something I had always avoided.  I don't like the cold, I really don't like things touching my feet and the thought of not knowing what lies beneath... but, the weather has been beautiful so I thought why not? I might like it!

So, one windy afternoon before the afternoon school run, my friend Suzie (a swimming instructor and experienced OW swimmer) took me out.  Donning a borrowed wetsuit which had been a workout in itself to get on, we headed to the shore.  

I had dug out my neoprene Rooster sailing socks for the event which turned out to be an absolute winner!  I took my time wading in and Suzie cruelly suggested I let the water in down my front to get me used to the temperature!  I did as I was told and was soon trying to breaststroke to a nearby buoy.  

I found instantly that the wetsuit gave me incredible buoyancy, my bum, legs and feet (thanks to the socks) were floating on the surface without me even doing anything with them!  So front crawl was much easier and more comfortable than breaststroke.  Having swam in the sea and done quite a bit in the pool I know I am a reasonably strong swimmer and don't worry about putting my head in or anything like that.  However, looking straight down into the dark green water and hearing the sound of my arms splashing into the water was quite strange.   I wasn't worried about the depth, but I found my mind wandered to thinking about big pike with big teeth at times!  After a bit I managed to control my breathing and felt like I was gliding along.  I am used to using the Total Immersion technique which involves minimal kick and I actually found I didn't need to kick at all in the wetsuit.   

We didn't stay in the water too long.  I got quite tired quite quickly and found the velcro was uncomfortable at the back of my neck.  Overall, I had enjoyed it and a seed had been sown - I duly ordered my own wetsuit.

Since that day I have been swimming a bit in the reservoir (just in my cossie as its been so hot - this is called 'skins' swimming - a term I really dislike, it makes me cringe, I have no idea why!) and have invested in a lightly coloured swim cap and a couple of tow floats.  I would never swim alone in open water so have had to go when my sister or friends could come too.

Last Thursday night I attended an organised swim session in Toddbrook.  These Toddbrook Open Water Swimming (TOWS) sessions are provided by Glossop Triathlon Club.  I tried out my new wetsuit and loved it!  I swam 3 laps of the 500m (approx) course and felt great.  It was a really safe and encouraging environment and my nerves soon disappeared.  Everyone was very friendly and explained what to do/where to go.  I was surprised at how bad at sighting the buoys and staying on course was, but I guess that will come with practise.  Each lap took 10 minutes so I did approx 1500m in 30 minutes.  

On my daily dips I have been taking my dog Aggie in with me as the pavements are far too hot for dog walking.  For a couple of weeks now I have been swimming the dog instead of walking her and she loves it too! Most days I have been joined by my sister with her dog Dotty and today my mother in laws labrador Peggy joined us too.  The dogs love it!  Next year, when Aggie is old enough, I am going to enter a dog aquathlon, this comprises a swim then run with your dog attached to you.  Watch this space!

Last week I finally started running again, but only on the flat.  I had entered the Whaley Waltz fell race months ago, and as it's one of my favourites I decided to give it a go without running any of the inclines.  I was really really good on the day and walked all the hills - both up and some down.  It was a scorching day so I would have struggled in the heat anyway.  The main thing was I completed it without aggravating my injury and I enjoyed it!   I also managed a 10km canal run yesterday and am planning to gradually introduce hills in the next few weeks.

Bike-wise I have been doing a bit of MTB but today I had a fantastic road ride with my girlfriends! it was a mixed ride of 30km with flat fast main roads for the first section, then hilly quieter roads for the second section.  The ride was finished off with a fab coffee stop then a doggy dip in the resser - overall a fab day!

It will soon be the summer holidays and my mind will start wondering how I am going to fit dog walking, running, swimming and biking in with two kids in tow.  I tend to just do what I can and not follow any sort of plan as I find that it is impossible to stick to any form of routine when relying on friends and family to help out with the children.  As they get older (my youngest is nearly 6 now) we can bike more together and they can walk further which is making life a lot easier, and I have become better at managing my anxiety levels which tend to  peak when the kids are off school.  

Looking forward to September I am planning my next RunTogether groups, which I am hoping to aim at beginners again. In the Autumn I am going to try and fit in my Fell Coaching training (FCiRF) so that I can offer more in depth coaching on 1:1 or in group sessions.  

I hope this fab weather continues, I am loving being outdoors and soaking up the sun.  

Will update soon,
Happy running until then!


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