With just over 3 months to go before myself and the rest of the team take on the English Channel, I've been doing everything possible to make sure I reach the start line in a good condition and can put in strong swims for the team. My swim training has been going well but there's only so much up and down I can take before I start to get bored, lose count of what lap i'm on or get annoyed at the other people swimming in my lane...
I am itching to get into open water, however, the water is still pretty cold, and although good for acclimatizing, it's not going to help in my aim to get fitter, quicker and stronger as I just can't spend long enough in it to make a session worth while. Plus, I really hate cold water and am trying to put off the inevitable as long as possible.. Therefore I've spent the winter 'cross-training', have got a new PT, joined a new (super fun) gym and am running as much as possible to get my cardio fitness levels up.
The gym (NPC Fitness in Loughborough) has an OCR team that I've joined (OCR stands for Obstacle Course Racing - think Tough Mudder etc) and is not your standard gym. Instead of rows of running machines, cross trainers and exercise bikes it has OCR obstacles, monkey bars, vertical wall run, climbing walls, 25m astro track, rope swings, free weights etc. and most importantly... space hoppers! I have a personal training session once a week with the aim of making me as fit and strong as I can be, and although I'm pretty good at pushing myself, I definitely work harder in these sessions than when I'm there training alone! I then try and go another 3 times during the week, mixing it up between the evening classes and doing my own programme and on the days I'm not at the gym I try to swim and/or run.
I've also set a few smaller targets to keep me on track over the months, entering a few running and OCR races that I need to train for. Each one I complete takes me closer to the channel swim, without it consuming my life and allowing me to focus on other things whilst still training hard.
The outcome: I'm coming into spring the fittest and strongest I've ever been. My swim times are dropping without actually doing a huge amount of swim training (which is helping my very hyper mobile shoulder stay happy!) and I'm finding it much easier to push on when mentally I begin to struggle. As the evenings get lighter and the water warms up towards the temperature of the English Channel (a rather cool 14 degrees), I shall substitute some of my gym sessions with outdoor swim sessions instead, getting used to spotting again whilst I swim to ensure i swim in a straight line, focusing on my technique and acclimatizing to swimming in cold water. Swimming in the ocean will bring a whole new set of challenges for me, but its nice to currently feel that I'm in a strong position with my fitness levels and mentally know I'm strong enough to take whatever is thrown at me.
I'm doing this swim to raise money for Aspire, who improve the quality of lives for those with a spinal cord injury. Please help me raise money for this fantastic charity by sponsoring me at www.justgiving.com/CazzLander