As I was getting out of the pool with 4000m done in last weeks only swim session Patrick made the point that for me to be comfortably swimming 3800m I really need to be doing more than 4000m in my long swim (he also pointed out on Saturday that if I ever want to improve in the water I need to swim more than once a week)
I have all sorts of excuses for why I only got to swim once last week. All of which sound genuine but at the end of the day they’re still only excuses. I still have this idea that I’m not a proper triathlete, more a bike/runner who swims a bit before the real race starts.
If I’m honest I still think that I can race competitively off two strong legs. The bike and run. That’s despite the fact that this approach proved to be a flawed not just once but twice last year.
But I have a plan. In the back of my mind I can hear Mike Tyson say “Everyone has a plan. Until they get hit”
But still I have a plan.

I think.
This year I am taking the swim more seriously. I’m aiming to at the very least get out of the water in good enough shape that I’m ready to start racing and not flattened by the first discipline.
Unlike last year when I had to work hard only to get out of the water tired after a weak swim this year I aim to be able to cruise through albeit possibly with a slower than optimal swim.
Flawed thinking?
A weak plan?
I need to take the swimming more seriously.
Anyway back to Patrick and his suggestion that my long swim should be 5k each week. I mentioned it to Ais afterwards and she thought it was a great idea so I texted Patrick to say I’d get my shit together and do it.
Patrick also went on to suggest that if I want to swim faster in a race then I need to swim faster in training. Of course I know this. But I find it very unpleasant. And in case you haven’t noticed I have a tendency to avoid the unpleasant stuff in the pool. Unless that is I happen to have Patrick kicking lumps out of me.
In a perverse sort of way I enjoy it on the bike and run but for some reason have yet to fully embrace it in the water.
Patrick sent me a 5k session that included 12×100 off short recovery (there’s no messing with Patrick. It’s work hard and go long or go home)
So I got up this morning with the intention of doing the 5k session he set but (insert any weak-ass excuse here) got delayed on the way to the pool and only had time for 4300m in the end.
I had 800m done by the time Patrick arrived and we finished the warm up before starting the planned 12×100 main set.
We were swimming long course meters but not having done short, hard stuff for a while we weren’t sure what pace I could hold in the 50m pool. So he suggested I aim to come in each 100 on 1:45 and go on 1:55. This meant I’d have 10 seconds recovery.
It sounded quite do-able and not too painful but I didn’t tell Patrick that.
This would turn out to be my first mistake. But unfortunately not my last.
Patrick failed to mention until 3 seconds before push off that we were doing the session side by side in the lane so I wouldn’t have the benefit of drafting behind him.
The numbers just got a little harder to hit. But not catastrophically hard.
We started fast and I came in with a 1:38 for the first 100. I didn’t know whether to panic or celebrate. Had I started way too fast? Or was I just swimming better than we’d expected?
The pace on the second 100 settled and I came in with a 1:42 affording myself a luxurious 13 seconds of recovery. The next 4 intervals were all within a second of that one and I was feeling strong and I was still getting a longer recovery than planned so the 100’s felt good. Really good. So I pushed a little harder and the pace went to 1:40, then 1:39 and I felt even better.
I felt strong and my breathing was getting harder but still under control. It’s not too much of a stretch to say that I briefly felt like a swimmer. I kept pushing for the last few and came into the pool wall after the last one feeling quite chuffed and waiting for the compliments on my prowess in the water.
“Patrick will be impressed with that” I was thinking to myself. As I touched the wall though he said we’d gotten the times wrong. It had been too easy for me and we’d keep going.
Shit! My second mistake was showing off.
We pushed off again. And again. After the next one Patrick decided it still wasn’t hard enough so we were going to shorten the recovery and go off 1:50. That meant I’d have about 6-8 seconds recovery after each interval.
He still hadn’t told me how many I was doing. My head was starting to panic. How long was Patrick going to go on for? Maybe six extra I told myself hoping but not really believing.
I was still holding 1:42-1:44 for each hundred but it was starting to get harder as my recovery was cut. Then the next one slipped to 1:47. The water was feeling really heavy and I was starting to hurt. And I only had 3 seconds recovery before pushing off again. I was at the point of backing off, of “minding myself”.
Maybe if my splits slowed further Patrick would ease off and the pain would end sooner. But I would know that if I quit I’d hate it. So I told myself to just suck it up and push hard. I would only slow down when I had no choice and I blew up.

If you want to follow the numbers more closely I’m on Strava as Rob Cummins Wheelworx or if you’re more of a pictures instead of reading type I post on Instagram as wheelworxrob.

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I admitted that I could live with what was really only discomfort.
The next two splits were back to 1:45’s.
My breathing was ragged now and my arms and shoulders were really hurting. But the worst part was still that I had no idea how many we were doing.
I guessed that last one we just did was number 21 but I couldn’t be sure.
I shouted in my head to suck it up and pushed again but despite the effort I was slowing. I was only getting to touch the wall, hit lap on the watch, greedily suck in air and go again. I was getting no recovery.
As I came up to breathe after number 24 Patrick said we only had 4 more to go and I was to swim fast for them.
But despite the pain I was in I now knew when it would end and there was some relief in that. Not that I could go any faster as he’d instructed. I was still only getting to touch the wall, breathe once and go again after each 100.
Somehow I survived.
Funny that.
A hard swim didn’t kill me.
Afterwards talking to Patrick he was satisfied that he’d found my limit and we could work off that next time.
All I could think was that it was a pity that he didn’t find it after 1500m instead of almost 3k…
But in fairness that was all my own fault.
If I’d been honest and said what I thought I could really do from the start instead of being afraid to hurt myself I’d have only had 12×100 hard to suffer through instead of 28. But then again knowing Patrick maybe not.
The 100 splits are detailed below for those who like to geek out on the numbers.

Lessons learnt.
1. Don’t try to wimp out of a session.
2. Don’t try to pull the wool over Patrick’s eyes.
3. Don’t show off in front of Patrick. Ever.
4. You can almost always do more than you think you can if you’re willing to work hard enough or hurt yourself a little more.
5. You can also always hurt yourself a little more than you want to.
6. It was pretty good to feel like a swimmer again even if only briefly.

Anyway with that let’s get on with the weeks training.

Monday :20 (1)

S&C :20

Tuesday 2:40 (3)

AM: Swim 1:30 4300m
PM: Swim :50 2500m open water
S&C :20

1:38, 1:42, 1:42, 1:43, 1:43, 1:42, 1:41, 1:40, 1:39, 1:39, 1:41, 1:42
1:42, 1:42, 1:43, 1:43, 1:44, 1:44, 1:47, 1:45, 1:45, 1:48, 1:46, 1:49,
1:46, 1:48, 1:48, 1:47

Energy 9/10
Motivation 9/10
Work 4 hours
Sleep 8 hours. Good.

Wednesday 2:05 (1)

Bike 2:05 63k

Energy 8/10
Motivation 10/10
Work 8 hours
Sleep 8 hours. Good

Thursday 2:40 (2)

Bike 2:05 62k
Run :35 7.5k off bike

Energy 8/10
Motivation 7/10
Work 8 hours
Sleep 9 hours. Disturbed


Energy 8/10
Motivation 8/10
Work —
Sleep 9.5 hours. Good

Saturday 5:40 (2)

Bike 5:00 150k inc 3.5 hours at Ironman Effort
Run :40 7.5k off bike. Easy pace

Energy 7/10
Motivation 10/10
Work 5 hours
Sleep 7.5 hours. Good

Sunday 2:20 (1)

Run 2:20 23k
Fried from the start. Was supposed to do 1 hour easy, 1 harder and the last easy again but despite trying to pick up the pace after an hour I couldn’t even hold 5 minute k’s. In fact I pulled the plug after 2:20 when I couldn’t even hold 6 min/k pace and my heart rate was going through the roof. Some days the body just doesn’t want to play ball.

Energy 5/10
Motivation 5/10
Work 6 hours
Sleep 8.5 hours. Good

Total 15:50 (10)
Swim 2:20 6800m (2)
Bike 9:10 275k (3)
Run 3:35 38k (3)
S&C :45 (2)


If you want to follow the numbers more closely I’m on Strava as Rob Cummins Wheelworx or if you’re more of a pictures instead of reading type I post on Instagram as wheelworxrob.


Chasing Kona eBook available

From smoker to back of the pack triathlete to the Ironman World Championships.

Read about how I overcame all of the odds and discovered what it would take to get to the Ironman World Championships – my eBook is now available to buy as an eBook on Amazon UK, Amazon US, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes

It is also available as a paperback at Wheelworx.