Keep swimming up that hill

It’s been a good week training wise for me, 7 pool sessions and one gym session. Also this week, for the first time in my many years of swimming I ended up vomiting after a session, my first anaerobic session of the week. While I made the bathroom for it, I was a bit shaken when I got back to work, whether that was because I had pushed myself hard or because my stomach had emptied when I needed fuel most I’m not sure. This highlights the fun world of training I find myself in. While I go into each week with a rough plan of what I will get done and when I will do it this inevitably gets changed or adapted based on three issues which I’m sure most if not all masters swimmers face.

  1. Pool time and lane availability. Let me explain a little. During the regular season (September to May) my local masters club only trains twice a week and both of these sessions are at 22:00 at night. While in previous years would be at both of these sessions, I’ve had to reduce that this season to an occasional session if I can get to sleep in the next morning (see points 2 & 3) or if my weekly plan is falling behind. It’s June now so there are no more club sessions, and even if there were, there wouldn’t be enough for me. So I have to rely heavily on getting the training in during public sessions. Some public sessions only have two lanes in, so it can be really hit and miss on what I can get done as sometimes there are simply too many people going at too many different paces. To be honest, while this is inconvenient, it is a public pool and everyone has the same right to use it, I just chalk this down to bad luck. It is easier for the lunch time sessions (all 5 lanes are in), but means rushing down to the pool and then back to work sneaking a sandwich in somewhere along the way.
  2. I’m a masters swimmer, not a professional. I must juggle family, work and training. Sometimes I can’t make a lunch session because of meetings, or I can’t make an evening swim due to family commitments. Not much can be done on this, I’m thankful for whatever training I do get in and if it comes down to time with family or in the pool, family wins (though I do drag them to the pool with me sometimes).
  3. I’m getting old. Things just don’t work like they used to. Ten years ago I was training daily in martial arts with some swimming and used to go off snowboarding or ice-skating on days off from training. No matter how hard I worked I recovered, granted it could take a day or two depending on what I had been doing, but I could recover. Now as I’m hitting mid-thirties I have to start boxing smart. I need to watch my sleep, watch what I eat (to an extent anyway) and I must take actual rest days. A few weeks ago I found out that my body doesn’t see it as a rest day if I do a leisurely 1.4km sea swim. Things begin to niggle and ache and to combat this dryland work has become increasingly important. While I would love to train 2-3 times every day, it simply isn’t possible, or perhaps I simply need to build up to it steadily.

It’s all part of the game and funnily enough the more my training progresses the more I enjoy swimming, but I think next week I will avoid eating a banana as I get in my car for an anaerobic session.   -Mike

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