Tom Wheatley of ShortList blogs about his progress so far
Tuesday, 6 May 2014
For the past few years I've only every used my phone to GPS map my exercise, however as I've taken on more races I've seen an increasing number of people using GPS watches. It wasn't until recently that I found out they're actually far more accurate than using a smart phone, utilising more advanced GPS sensors as well as having a longer battery life (when I run a marathon I'm pretty much out of battery by the end of it). There's an interesting overview of the pros and cons here.
The one I went for was the Polar RCX5, a popular model amongst triathletes due to the fact it can track all disciplines with relative ease as long as you have the required sensors.
Kypros, along with countless other trainers previously, explained the importance of monitoring heart rate when training, specifically for longer distances. I was told to keep checking as we went on to ensure that I wasn't going above 155 bpm for more than a minute or two, otherwise I would like have too little energy left when I may need it later on in the ride.
The ride took us along the coastline of Paphos for 30km, a relatively flat route which wasn't too taxing. Aside from an issue with a puncture quite early on we covered 60km in just under 2 hours 20 minutes. As we rode along Kypros gave us tips on riding style and some ridiculously helpful guidance on how I wasn't using my gears effectively.
With the first cycle out of the way it now meant we were going to tackle the area I was dreading, open water swimming. After a quick lunch we headed down to the beach to run through the training plan for the next hour and a half. Memories of my previous attempts flooded back of struggling to manage front crawl and resorting to a slow breaststroke as other swimmers disappeared into the distance.
As I looked out across the sea I felt a slight twang of fear as I noticed the waves hitting against the rock walls that marked the main bay area. Although the water was warm enough to swim in without it, I decided to wear my wetsuit anyway, partly because it meant I would have added buoyancy but also because it was a new one and I desperately wanted to try it out.
My knowledge of wetsuits up until now has been fairly slim. I've tried a few out in the past with mixed feelings, some being far too tight and others extremely difficult to get on and off. I went for the blueseventy 2013 Sprint (£150 rrp), an entry level suit designed for people first taking up open water swimming. I managed to get it on with relative ease and actually felt pretty comfortable in it.
The water was completely clear, a novelty for anyone who's swum in some of the open water areas in the UK, and contrary to how it looked from the beach the water was actually fairly calm. Our first task was to head off in single file for a couple of hundred meters. I sucked in my breath and set off behind the rest of the group. As expected I started to lag behind as the stronger members headed out, fortunately the buoyancy of the wetsuit along with the salt water meant my main issue was just speed and not an inability to stay afloat.
After a going back and forth a few times we started to look at technique, focussing on some individual issues which could help our stroke. Kypros, with the aid of his GoPro, filmed us underwater as we swam in order to highlight the feedback when we got back. I won't go through the full list of issues with my swimming, it would take a while, but my main focus was positioning. Instead of lying horizontal in the water I was struggling to keep my legs up, moving forward in a diagonal motion with my held high. I was also using up far too much energy kicking from my knee at an unnecessary speed.
For the second part of the swim session we moved back to the pool to run through a variety of drills to help fix technique and build strength. These ranged from simple horizontal floating drills to those designed to focus on individual arm movements.
At the end I was tired in a way I rarely get from running. An hour and half of swimming drills and open water swimming works a lot of muscles, many I rarely use at such a level. I went back to my room to lie down before joining the other guests for dinner, it's safe to say I was pretty hungry by this point.
The next Active Holiday with Thanos Hotels will take place at their Anassa resort. Information and how to book can be found here.