Asthma and open water swimming

For the most part my asthma doesn’t really affect me in the summer, it can be a real pain in the winter – last year I missed about three months training but summer is ok.

On Saturday I joined East Essex Tri for their open water swim for the first time. This is held at Lakeside, in the lake of the name of the shopping centre. My, but it was COLD. Much colder than Dorney lake, although as G pointed out it is deep at Lakeside, 45 feet in some places, so it is going to take much longer to warm up.

What I found, which didn’t happen at Dorney, was I actually felt my lungs contract and my body start to react as if it was having a panic attack. Luckily, due to meditation practice, I was able to over-rule my body and just keep breathing slowly and steadily. Swimming was extremely hard work to start with, but the leader of my group said that this is quite common for asthmatics due to the way the lungs react.

I rather hopefully asked if my lungs would train as it were and not react in this way over time and he said no. Which is a pain. He went on to say that one of the coaches is asthmatic and he gets in the water in advance to acclimatise on race days, at least where possible. After about 15 minutes of swimming my breathing calmed down and settled back into its normal pattern.

We swum for about an hour and I was consistently at the back of the beginners group, which I have to say was a bit of an ego popper, after doing so well in the swim section of the race. It has shown me how much work I have got to do and I need to start to introduce the equivalent of a long slow run into my swimming, I don’t normally swim for an hour, let alone in a freezing cold lake.

I got up on Sunday to do my LSR, it was going to be 8 miles as I start my half marathon training. However I got up, meditated and when I went to get my running gear on I thought – I just can’t do it. And went back to bed until 12.30! I don’t sleep in like that any more and I haven’t for a good few years.

I don’t know if it was the swim, or my three-year old niece’s birthday party in the after, but there was no way I was getting up to run yesterday.

This has really shown me that I need to up my training, I have taken quite a lot of time off recently as I had two races so close together, but I need to increase my base fitness, hopefully that will allow me to manage the asthma better come winter.

I have to say, although swimming outside was really hard work I really did enjoy myself a great deal, it is such a different experience to swimming in the pool.

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