Friday, 12 June 2009

Running like a fish on a bicycle?


Two successive injury-based withdrawals from the London Marathon, and the subsequent knee problems mean that I have only run 12 miles this year, and have experienced the inevitable and significant weight creep that accompanies eating like a runner and running like a couch potato for a long period of time. It's a cycle that many folks know well, and is accompanied by frustration and occasional despair at a body that won't do what I want.


The recent trip to Israel reminded me how much I love swimming. In the UK it tends not to love me because the pool chemicals burn my skin, so a couple of days is all I can manage before taking time out to recover. However, someone explained that the chemicals are lowest in the early morning after the water has been filtering overnight, and before the people pollution begins again (the chemicals are there to kill the bugs from unwashed bodies).

The local pool runs early morning swimming sessions, and I have now attended 7 of these, with the aid of an anti-chlorine shampoo and body wash. The stroke improvement recommended by the Lanzarote coach (basically 'elbows up'), is beginning to feel more natural, and a pool is one place where an extra layer of blubber doesn't put extra pressure on my skeleton.

I still 'feel' quite slow, but I'm enjoying it immensely. I've set myself a couple of targets:
1. To get up early enough to complete a mile in the pool before work. That should take 40-45 minutes at current pace.
2. To increase my swimming speed.

Yesterday's 19 minutes to complete a kilometre was 'OK', but my perception is that I can travel much faster than that, once my fitness improves. I'm using a slow and leisurely stroke at present because it's one I can maintain for long distances. I have allowed the more powerful 'competitive' stroke to emerge towards the end of each session, but that does need me to swim a couple of 'slow down' lengths afterwards to avoid dizziness. Until I've gained a bit more fitness I'll hold back from doing any fast 'sprint' lengths!


And yes, my bicycle is sitting in the garage, ready to go. It's been so long since I've ridden it that my confidence is low. Without basic fitness, can I manage even the most gentle hill? Last week someone invited me to go for a cycle ride with them, and my first thought was 'yes please', followed by the inevitable wish not to be the 'ballast' on the trip. A few early morning jaunts with the bike to the pool may be in order to see how my knees respond to a different sort of work.


  1. You can manage a gentle hill! And even if you can't you can always push...

  2. Thanks you. I did just that :-)