700 Lengths Done! But without exaggerating – It Was Hell! (Overtraining, Injuries)

I was massively looking forward to this! To be fair I didn’t feel 100% getting into the pool beforehand. I did go to bed early but couldn’t drift off so I think I had less than 6 hours sleep. I still warmed up really well and ate the correct foods and breakfast.

With the injuries I got these could have been from the Good Friday Pike walking with Seb on my shoulders on the carrier. My back was absolutely fine throughout so that’s a positive but my knee and Achilles tendon, Not Good!

My right knee went about 2 hours into the swim, the same knee that’s been plaguing me since This Injury (click to read) from running. At this point I couldn’t use my legs at all. I tried to adapt my kick just using my left leg but it was useless – I spent the next 3 hours in agony using ONLY my arms which took on more strain. Three times during the main section I thought about giving up and going home early – the Easy Option. But my arrogance got the better of me and ensured that I got as much of the main section done as possible seeing how I got on.

Towards the end of the main section when I was in the upper pool at Manchester Aquatics Centre my knee felt a lot better, but then my left Achilles tendon became very sore so I had to reduce the power of my kick again. After coping with this the knee injury came back in the penultimate and final 70 length sections.

Throughout the swim I was so depressed and couldn’t distract myself and daydream to pass the time. I felt every minute of it! Still, I was SO proud of myself getting through it although I had no lumps in my throat this time because I knew I’m over-training. My knee today is still very sore and my left foot is also. I’m considering reducing Sunday’s 800 lengths to 500 and seeing how I get on, the slightest sign of pain I’ll just get out of the pool and save myself for the 1,000 lengths.

What also worries me is I need this knee for the Coast to Coast challenge for the 8 days of mega endurance. I might need to see a specialist but I’m unsure what they can suggest in the little time I have left.

Warm Up First Sub-Section Main Section Second Sub-Section Cool Down
Lengths 50 x 50m 90 x 50m Mixed 70 x 25m 70 x 25m
Pace 60 80 70 60
Minutes 103 129 212 59 69
Actual 65 137 200 53 52
Main Section 1 Main Section 2 Main Section 3 Main Section 4
Lengths 36 x 50m 28 x 50m 76 x 25m 76 x 25m
Minutes 70 54 47 41
Actual 51 42 54 53

Suzy from Serco – great suggestions for 1,000 length difficulty awareness

Ultimate Christmas DaySuzy sent across some really helpful information after I asked why it was absolutely painful swimming in cold water and that I needed ways of getting people to recognise the difficulty of the 1,000 swim challenge.

In regards to the cold she came back to me with a website article which explains that in cold water your body needs more energy to keep the muscles warm and to get them working properly in the cold water. This makes absolute sense and I can now understand why swimming 600 lengths at Manchester Aquatic Centre was miles more difficult compared to swimming 500 lengths at Farnworth Leisure Centre…. apart from the distance obviously.

I also sent this to Suzy:

I’ve had real problems getting the awareness of this challenge off the ground and donations coming in. I think it’s difficult for people to realise how hard this challenge is as they have nothing to compare it to or any history of people having done something similar. The London Marathon – for example – is about a 4 hour run burning around 2,500 to 3,500 calories whereas the 1,000 length swim in breaststroke will take over 12 hours and burn up to 8,000 calories. Now I’m not saying the marathon is easy or less difficult – my god I’d hate to enter it! But people appreciate and understand and can compute how difficult it might be resulting in donations – unlike doing 25k in a pool and all the training with it. I need to get the awareness up without trying to sound arrogant and big headed! I’m hoping to get some fund-raising ideas sorted soon to boost the profile. Any thoughts you have on this would be appreciated.”

She sent me some fantastic fact information which I’ve developed into a long graphic which you can see on the right. It basically runs through a mega food/drink Christmas Day and showing how you would go about consuming 8,000 calories.

I’ll post this online towards the time in the hope that it will boost donations. I can also put that doing the Iron Man, running two marathons back to back, cycling 170 miles or rowing 90 miles would also equate to burning around 8,000 calories.

600 lengths for training – done OUCH! (240 x 50m, 120 x 25m)

Sunday was different – GOOD: did the 15K, got some good feedback, did it in the allotted time. BAD: cold water, muscle/back aches, 50m lengths, and THE COLD!

So yeah the water was cold at Manchester Aquatics Centre


I did the 600 lengths (15K) in two parts, the first in the basement 50m training pool, completing 240 x 50m lengths. Believe me that is a long way. And my god it was cold – I need to get that across! Anyway, apparently this is kept cold for the athletes who train as it prevents overheating when they’re absolutely nailing it. The second part was 120 x 25m lengths in the ground floor pool as the image above.

I went through all 18 bottles so I will need more for next week’s 700 lengths… 😥 I don’t want to think about that yet!!!

So a third of the way through my total lengths I was feeling my left shoulder clicking again and after a while my back started getting sore. I do think though the back was due to just poor form as I was having a good look around the new facilities keeping myself sane.

When I got to two thirds through, my back was a better but both shoulders, my right runners knee issue and FEET?? became sore and numb with tiredness.

At just over two thirds through I was aware that the basement 50m pool was closing shortly so I ended up talking to the lifeguards who were really interested and impressed in the challenge and training, one of which promised to bring in £5 for next week!!! Amazing – I don’t even know the guy but he said “I think what you’re doing is really commendable”. Wow!

I went upstairs into the 25m pool which felt like 10m after being in the huge pool for so long – but the lengths didn’t countdown quickly at all. It felt like an age getting to the final 60 length set.

Warm Up First Sub-Section Main Section Second Sub-Section Cool Down
Lengths 46 x 50m 75 x 50m 120 x 50m 60 x 25m 60 x 25m
Pace 60 80 See Below 70 60
Minutes 88 110 181 50 59
Actual 58 100 162 40 44
Main Section 1 Main Section 2 Main Section 3 Main Section 4
Lengths 30 x 50m 30 x 50m 30 x 50m 30 x 50m
Minutes 60 46 40 35
Actual 30 34 35 38

500 Lengths Demolished!!!

Wow so proud of myself to get to this level. Even though I did 500 in 6 hours which is longer than I’ve ever swam, overall it felt quicker and went better than I could have expected.

Don’t get me wrong, however, it was bloody tough. I hit an enormous wall around the 300 mark. The initial sections of 75+125 lengths got a major chunk of it out of the way leaving 6 sections of 50 lengths which I just focused on. But at 300 I felt so weak and mentally depressed with it all. But at around 350 it got easier and at 400 I felt like I was on the home straight. I actually got a little emotional at 480, thinking of the finish line thinking if there will be people cheering me on on length 999 on 7th May :’-)

Warm Up First Sub-Section Main Section Second Sub-Section Cool Down
Lengths 75 125 200 50 50
Pace 60 80 See Below 70 60
Minutes 74 92 150 42 49
Actual 48 83 137 35 34
Main Section 1 Main Section 2 Main Section 3 Main Section 4
Lengths 50 50 50 50
Minutes 50 38 33 29
Actual 30 34 35 38

The lifeguards were asking about my swim, joking that 500 is not enough, try 501 etc.

There were plenty of people in the pool asking about what I’m doing, including one guy asking if I was a swimming professional to me replying “No I’m just an amateur doing something stupid”.

Very very good feedback, one guy saying every time he comes in he’s impressed at how long I can maintain the high pace. Wow – thanks buddy!

A very strange feeling now – 500 – what a milestone. 600 next week!!! Will that feel as much of a milestone… and where am I going to do it? I don’t think Farnworth pool will be open long enough for me to do it! Maybe Manchester Aquatics Centre? How will I get there for an early start with trains on a Sunday starting so late!?

Went for 420… only did 300….

So today’s swimming did not go to plan. It was going well until I had to leave the pool for 30 minutes about a third into my lengths because a little girl had been sick in the pool. My muscles tightened up and cooled down so when I got back into the pool it was unbearable.

The photographer James turned up around 2pm and spent a good hour doing action shots and head on portrait photos. To be fair James did an AMAZING job and you can see the photos below:

2013-03-30 - Farnworth Pool Training Photos (1)

2013-03-30 - Farnworth Pool Training Photos (2)

2013-03-30 - Farnworth Pool Training Photos (3)

2013-03-30 - Farnworth Pool Training Photos (4)

After the photos it was about 3pm and I wasn’t going to get 120 done so I decided to get out to save my energy and treat the wife tonight for her Mother’s Day surprise special at Kilhey Court, the place we got married (inc. meal, hotel, massage)

Swimming open water breaststroke – again recommended against this

I joined a Facebook Great North Run Beer Tent discussion forum today for Great North Run but I ended up speaking to a lady about doing breaststroke fro the Great Swim.

She advised against this told me to practice front crawl.
After a bit of research it is advised that you will feel the cold more and if it’s windy you’ll be getting mouthfuls of water. The wetsuit will also make you more buoyant making it harder to breaststroke kick and pull underwater.

A website advises to get in an outdoor pool asap with a wetsuit. Told to try side breathing (like front crawl) “Lots of leisure swimmers swim breaststroke in wetsuits at my local Open Water venue with no problems…. best to try it out first to avoid a nasty surprise on the day”

Basically try ASAP and if disastrous LEARN front crawl ASAP!

The lady gave me the name and email address of a contact from ActiveBlu.co.uk who does coaching for swimming etc and I asked her advice.