Silverstone Half Marathon

First race of the season, done. That pretty much sums up last weekend, and an event that may well turn out to be less memorable in the long-term than I had expected, although it has taught me a few lessons which I am sure are going to be useful later on this year. But before I go into those, a few words on how my early season half marathon went down.

The Plan

I have always been a fair weather athlete, and until now every race I have taken part in since getting into multi-sports in around 2010 has been during British Summer Time, between April and October. And for good reason, as we Brits don’t usually get the best weather even during our supposed warm season, but believe me it can be even worse in the winter, which makes training a real pain. This has never been a problem, as my A-Race has always been  from around June onwards, so I have got away with indoor training until the end of March, and then topped things off with a bit of outdoor swimming and running in the sunshine, ready to hit my peak as the weather finally improves.

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But this year, with my first ever full marathon calling, I have decided to get started a bit earlier in order to bank some serious (ish) miles as early as possible, and what better way to do this than book myself onto one of the first majors of the year, the Adidas Silverstone Half Marathon. What a fantastic sounding opportunity to run on the same track on which so many F1 legends have raced – Hamilton, Senna, Mansell – the crowd cheering whilst we spray champagne on the finish line, and so on. Plus, having this in the diary would make sure I put in some effort through January & February (which to be fair has worked a bit – see my last post), to get a bit of momentum going for the year. That was the plan…

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Somewhere along the way however, I got sidetracked by the fact that this was supposed to be one of the flattest run courses of all, and therefore a great one for a PB, so I became fixated on achieving a sub-2 hour time, which given my last time of 2.03 in Birmingham did not seem unreasonable. I think you can see where this is going…

Race Day

Silverstone is probably the most famous racing track in the UK, and as an F1 fan it always feels a bit special. I had been lucky enough to go a few times before, although both times were to see my wife and brother on track day experiences rather than for major events. All the more reason to look forward to running on the hallowed tarmac.

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The first thing I want to say is that the organisation and logistics of this event were absolutely fantastic, possibly the best I have ever encountered. Signposts & parking were clear & easy, and there were an absolute ton of really friendly marshals to help out and make sure everything went smoothly. In fact I am willing to bet there were more race attendants here than there will be competitors in the next race I am booked on for in May. Great work fellas!

Sadly the weather was not playing ball, as despite the Saturday before (and Monday after) being sun-filled delights, it was raining just enough to be annoying and cold, but not quite to the degree of requiring an actual raincoat. The event plan asked competitors to be there by 10.30 am for the 12.00 start, which was sensible to avoid a last minute rush, but unfortunately meant 90 minutes of standing around getting cold before things kicked off. 

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Yep, it was a bit chilly at the start

After leaving my stuff at the bag drop I headed to the line at 11.15, assuming there would be some sort of pre-race briefing or warm up, but again, nada. Just 45 minutes of jogging on the spot (this time minus my warm outer layers) and casually trying to shelter from the rain behind a taller person without letting on what I was doing.

The event plan had said there would be various bands playing throughout the course, but every time I took off my headphones to see what was going on they just seemed to be playing Bon Jovi on the speakers. Not that there is anything wrong with that by the way, but I did prefer my own mix (which included plenty of other 80’s classics). Apparently the starting band was Scouting For Girls, who had a few horrendous songs about a decade ago, which was all the more reason to keep my buds in!

The Race

As with most races this big, the start was a bit of an anti-climax, as instead of sprinting off at the sound of the klaxon, we spent a few minutes doing the awkward British shuffle towards the line, as about 5,000 people tried to squeeze between the starting posts, but finally we were off.

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Thank you to Marathon Foto

It was a strange feeling running on the track, a bit like being in the middle of a nice wide road, but with a surprising amount of water retained in places. The corners were also a lot sharper than expected given drivers must regularly be doing over 100 mph in places!

I set off at an absolute blast by my standards, in my head really going for that 2 hour mark. My plan was basically to keep an eye on the pace screen on my Tom Tom, and keep it below 6 minutes per kilometre, which would see me through on time. And things were going great as I was going closer to 5.30/km or bang on 9 minute miles in old money, and managing to maintain it well. I hit the first kilometre in 5.15, and the 5 km mark in 27 minutes, not far off my top speed for that distance. Perhaps that should have been a warning, but I was too focused to worry for now.

Around the 30 minute mark I saw multiple Olympic gold winner David Weir zooming past on what must have been his last lap in the outside lane (he won the race in 47 minutes!), which was pretty motivating even if it was only for a few seconds. He was miles ahead of the rest of the field, and even the camera car following him seemed to be struggling to keep up.

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The Weirwolf in action at Silverstone, 2016

I have to say, it was a bit mean of the organisers to loop us around the back of the refreshment stand at the start of lap 2, meaning all we could smell as we ran past were bacon sarnies and Cornish pasties, like some sort of psychological torture. Still, I was not too bothered as I was still doing well against my plan, hitting the 10 km mark on 55 minutes. If I could keep this up I would have over 10 minutes to do the last mile or so, no problem…

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My next vehicle…

As much as I would like to say it was fun running on such hallowed racing ground, the actual experience was a bit less so. The British Grand Prix has around 150,000 spectators meaning the stands and banks get packed out, and everywhere the cameras go on TV there are thousands of cheering fans. Understandably the turnout for this race was a bit lower, with probably a few thousand family members congregated mainly near the start finish line, meaning that for 90% of the race the atmosphere was a bit quiet in such a huge venue. And if the outlying stands looked a bit empty from the front, they looked positively skeletal backed by the grey sky as you ran behind them, taking a bit of the sheen off things.

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Lovely day!

About halfway through the sun finally broke through and it warmed up, which means the weather was basically doing the exact opposite of ideal conditions for a race, i.e. warm beforehand whilst you stand around on the line, and then a bit of light rain to cool you down towards the end. Instead, it meant even more of the clichéd runners ‘throwing-water-on-your-head-to-cool-down’ tricks at the pit stops.

At 15 km things were still going alright, as I reached the three quarter mark in under 90 minutes, but I began to notice the route starting to head uphill. And from there it did not really let off for the rest of the distance. When you watch racing on TV the course always looks so flat, and the cars are so powerful they barely seem to acknowledge and gradient. But on foot it is a lot more up and down than expected, and I later found out that whilst more of the first half of the course is downhill (perhaps explaining my pace), the second half has more uphill. Not steep mind you, like the Great Birmingham hill, but just enough to take it out of tired legs.

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Covering every corner of the circuit

It was about that point that I started to struggle, the combination of heat, hills and hunger hitting my body like a rugby tackle and chopping my pace. Suddenly my target of just 6 minute kilometres seemed a long way off, and as it began to creep up over 7 minutes it hit me that the dream was over for today. That realisation and disappointment only seemed to make things worse, as my body began to give in. I was, as they say, hitting the wall.

In triathlons this is known as ‘Bonking’, apparently due to a lack of glycogen in the body. It has famously happened to both Alistair & Jonny Brownlee in recently years (so I guess I am amongst esteemed company), although I did not have anyone around willing to carry me over the line, so I just had to push on as much as possible. 

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After pinning so much on hitting my target I was genuinely gutted as it shattered before my eyes, and had I been more hydrated might even have shed a tear or two, but I was not going to let the race beat me. My pace by now was verging on walking, although I refused to actually go there, managing to get along with the classic runner’s shuffle up the final few slopes as waves of others that I had been overtaking in the last couple of hours began to flow back past me. 

Finally though, the finish was in sight, and although I could not quite manage my ‘trademark’ speed burst for the line, I did manage to get together for the last few hundred metres to the end. Finally, there were some supporters lined up cheering us on, although sadly no chequered flag to wave us over the line, possibly for the best as I might have run straight into it!

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Brian sums up how I felt on the line…

The Aftermath

The first thing I remember after I crossed the line was the pa system playing that horrendous Disney song ‘Let It Go’, probably the most inappropriate racing tune imaginable, although I did have a feeling maybe it was aimed directly at me, to tell me to get over the time and just enjoy the finish feeling. Sadly I was in too much pain, so hobbled over to collect my finishers pack [incidentally – best goodie bag ever, with a quality medal, t-shirt, a ton of food and even a bottle of sunscreen] and downing the protein shake it contained in a single gulp.

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This was my seventh half-marathon, three of the others coming as part of a triathlon, but I honestly can’t remember feeling so bad straight after a run. I really was out of it and had to lean on the barrier for a good 10 minutes before I could do anything, but eventually came around as heart rate began to level out. My final time was 2.05.11, having taken around 35 minutes to complete the last 5 km. Not even a PB in the end, although in the end it was my second best time which I suppose is an upside…

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Now I have had a couple of days to reflect on things, and also read back what I wrote straight after, I have realised I may have been a bit of a drama queen about it. After all, in none of the 20 or so long distances events I have raced in the past have I ever been remotely bothered about my time (other than when I just made the 8 hour cut off by 3 minutes in the Avenger), and I had not done any specific speed training. Maybe this was my best chance to break two hours, or maybe it will come next time.

I also read an interview with David Weir online where he said how tough he found the conditions tough, and also did not beat his own PB either, which made me feel a teensy bit better. It was pretty cool seeing him zoom past, and had I had the energy I would love to have given him a Weirwolf howl (awoo)!

So the main takeaway here is the first race of the season is done, and I survived. Plus I have a head start on training this year, as well as some valuable lessons on both myself and racing that I plan to put to good use in future, and might even talk about next time on here. Plus a great excuse to dig into some of these bad boys that I realised I had stashed away for a rainy day in the house!

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Great Northern & Southern Runs

I realised the other day that I have not written anything on here all year, and wondered whether it could be due to something I talked about a while ago, where the bulk of my winter training has been based on indoor classes. As much as I love doing them, the thing is you really don’t get much time to think, as you focus on following the instructor in time to music, and in my case make sure you don’t fall over! With longer distance training however, you have a lot more time to yourself and your own thoughts which, for me at least, is where I end up writing most of these.

But that is all about to change, as not only do I have something to talk about now, with my opening race of the season just a few days away, but I have managed to man-up and get out in the cold for a few decent runs recently.

Night

To be fair, things actually started a few weeks before Christmas when I was working down in Gatwick and managed to get in a few evening runs, which I wrote about in my last blog. Given that my job involves travelling around the UK and spending a fair bit of time in cities – some more interesting than others – I thought I would make more of an effort to do some exploring on foot and then write about the places I get to along the way.

First up for me this year was of course London, a place where I have to spend a lot of time, usually around the Docklands area. Whilst I have been for plenty of runs around the river and into Canary Wharf, it is not always the most exciting part of town, so rather than glamorous sights such as the Houses of Parliament and Tower of London, it tends to be the Flats of mid-week Commuters and Tower of HSBC.

Olympic Park

But this time I had something different planned, in that I had never been close to the 2012 Olympic Stadium, which is located in Stratford (not the Shakespeare one), a do-able distance from where I was staying. Knowing I would need a fair bit of time to get it done before work, I bit the bullet and set my alarm for a Rocky-esque 5.45 am.

By 6 I was on the road, and heading towards Canning Town high street, and having recently watched a documentary with Idris Elba talking about the fights he used to get into there, I was pretty glad I was going to be the only one about at that time. But I wasn’t, and whilst there was definitely no sign of trouble, I was amazed at how many people were up and about at that time in London, walking, bussing, DLR-ing and all sorts. I am pretty sure where I live it is a ghost town before 7!

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Following the rough map I had in my head from my research the night before, I carried on and tried to follow the signs for Stratford, although being designed more for drivers than runners, I had to ignore a lot when they tried to steer me back to the main road. Once I reached West Ham station I climbed up and onto Greenway, a well-lit footpath which looked like it would take me all the way to the stadium.

Actually, scratch the well-lit part, as within 30 seconds of leaving the station all the lights disappeared, leaving me in pitch black conditions to fend for myself. Fortunately I had not yet spoken to my colleague who lived nearby until after, as when  asked if he knew the area his response was along the lines of “oh yeah, I remember that guy got done for murder around there last year”. Another reason I prefer early morning runs! Still, it was actually really nice once I found my footing, to be in the centre of one of the biggest cities in the world, in near perfect darkness for some distance either side of me. I may have even been able to see a few stars, who knows…

Olympic Park 4

Once I got to the other side my target was firmly in my sights, and aside from having to zig-zag along a ridiculous road layout to get there, I finally reached the famous Olympic Park. I decided to run a Mo Farah style victory lap around the stadium, which sadly is now leased by West Ham United so full of their branding, but it did feel great and a decent reward for getting up at that time. Reaching the start I saw a few other laggards had dragged themselves out of bed too and were just reaching it, but by that time I was back on my way. Ok, I did also look into jumping the fence to get onto the adjacent running track for a quick lap around that too, but it was getting just that bit too light so I chickened out!

Olympic Park 2

Having taken part in plenty of straight line out and back races where the return holds no excitement, I always try to find a different way in my runs, so veered towards the city centre and tried to find a new route, which whilst slightly less exciting (that damn main road the signs were trying to take me to earlier) was also less eventful, and given I was starting to tire by then was probably for the best.

olympic stadium run

All in this was a 15.15 km run in 1 hour 40, not particularly fast by any standards, but given that firstly I had forgotten my water bottle (fortunately I had a single gel in my back pocket) and stop-started a load of times to take photos and get lost, was not too shabby and hopefully a good sign for my upcoming half-marathons.

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My next trip was up to the far north of England, the city of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, home of Alan Shearer, the Angel of the North and of course Ant & Dec. It was a place I had never visited before given it is a fair way away, but I had always fancied it given a great running heritage thanks to the Great North Run, the World’s largest half-marathon. Whilst I did not quite have the time or inclination for a run of that distance, I did manage to get in three pretty decent efforts during my fortnight there.

First up was my explorer run, another early morning job (this time a lot quieter as I had expected before), where I made my way around the city centre at leisure, scoping out the Quayside, Chinatown, St James’ Park football ground and a few nice enough parks. Despite getting a bit lost towards the end and doing a couple of km longer than planned (the city is a labyrinth in parts) things turned out well, and I got to see a good proportion of the local sights as the sun gradually rose.

The next afternoon I tried a different tack, running alongside the north side of the river. Initially I headed East and towards South Shields, the finishing point for the GNR and more importantly into Byker (the Grove!) but it turned out not to be particularly well lit, so after a mile or so I turned back and tried the other way inland. This was a lot busier – there seems to be tons of running clubs up there, all going off around 6 pm – but again there was not a huge amount to see. A nice peaceful run is all well and good, but given the short time I was there I fancied seeing a bit more, so I turned it into a bridge run, covering the four major bridges across the Tyne in turn: The Millennium Bridge with its spectacular lights, the High Level Bridge for some spectacular views, the low-level Swing Bridge, and to finish things off the famous Tyne Bridge itself.

Amazingly it turned out when I got back that my run was almost identical to the one the morning before, which was not bad given how often I was stopping to take pictures and check my GPS!

Newcastle runs tomtom

The following week I though I would try something a bit different and keep on the Gateshead, southern side of the river where I was staying. The plan here was to make a parallel run up the river but turn off after a couple of miles to run past the office I had been working in.

Although the first section was well lit, things got a bit dodgier after a mile or so after I turned off and headed away from the river. Going back to earlier, part of the reason I prefer early morning runs is because you tend to have places to yourself. Now with all respect to Geordies who are some of the nicest people I have ever met, Newcastle is somewhere which has a reputation for being a tough place (especially amongst soft southerners), and the further away from the main track I ran the more I imagined meeting a group of ne’er-do-wells.

After deciding against running down the deserted canal path on my own, I skirted the main road instead, and after one particularly bad stretch where all I could imagine was meeting David Patrick Kelly’s character from the end of The Warriors, I rounded a corner and found the office. I can honestly say I have never been so glad to find an industrial park in my life.

That just left me with getting home, which was equally challenging, as the bus route I knew involved a massive hill, and for some reason I was desperate to find a park I had read about which looked like it had some sort of Disney castle (no joke, google it) which involved a bit of a detour. So another couple of miles later I found myself at Saltwell Park and immediately regretted it, as it was pitch black and all the entrances were padlocked. Probably for the best as all I could think about was that it looked more like the kind of abandoned amusement park Scooby Doo would hang out in than Fantasia.

Still, the one benefit of my ‘shortcut’ was that it would all be downhill from there, and a good thing too as by the time I finished I was over 14 km, well over what I had originally planned to do, and whilst it was a long way from The Shining (probably closer to the Jeremy Kyle graffiti above…) this run it did teach me a bit of a lesson about planning my routes a bit more in future.

Gateshead run

Despite all that, I have to say Newcastle is an amazing place, and I am looking forward to going back there some time (ideally in the summer as it really is cold!) for another round of city running. But in the meantime it is tapering time, as this weekend is time for my first proper race of the year, the Silverstone Half Marathon. More on that next time!

Rough Runner 2016

Although I have been taking part in triathlons for a while now, I will freely admit that (along with many people) until a few years ago I had no idea obstacle races even existed. I am not sure of the exact moment when they became mega-popular, but at some point they seem to have exploded! Now every weekend there seems to be tons of events all over the UK where you can run around fields, wade through mud, climb ropes, crawl under barbed wire and even brave electrocution, all in the name of challenging yourself and your body to the limit.

How people imagine obstacle races

How people imagine obstacle races

Events such as Tough Mudder, Wolf Run and Survival of the Fittest have become arguably as big brands as Ironman, and are a lot more accessible to boot, avoiding the significant cost and training requirements of triathlons. And that is not to mention the social aspect of the races, given they tend to work really well as team events, where you can run as a pack and help each other navigate those tricky obstacles (as demonstrated in the above halfpipe). Most importantly, they have a real emphasis on the fun side of things, and while I personally enjoy some of the pain and suffering you go through in a long distance race – each to their own! – obstacle races seem to involve a lot more laughing, either at some of the ludicrous obstacles or just at each other.

The reality

The reality

As much as I fancied trying out one of these events, I had never actually got around to it, with the closest being the Colour Obstacle Rush last year, which was a bit like Park Run crossed with Fun House: a fun day but not particularly tough, the main difficulty being getting all that pain out of your hair afterwards. So things worked out really well when my wife and a few of her work colleagues invited me to join their team in ‘Rough Runner’, a 10km race in Oxfordshire, with obstacles based on Saturday night TV shows such as Gladiators, Takeshi’s Castle, Total Wipeout and Ninja Warrior: How could I say no?!

 

gladiators takeshi

wipeout ninja warrior

Fast forward a few months and my team of seven found ourselves on a huge country estate in the Cotswolds, watching one of the funniest briefing videos I have ever seen, with lines like “If you fall over don’t cry about it princess, the ambulances will only come if you have lost a limb”. We were in the second wave of about 100 competitors (we were supposed to be in the first wave but got carried away taking team photos!), which was partly planned so we could reach the obstacles before they became too caked in mud… After a brief group warm up involving lots of shouting and burpies we were off, galloping down the hill full of energy like Black Beauty.

We quickly realised there was no messing around when we came across the first obstacle after about 500 yards. They had done well to hide it around a corner – something that became a theme as we negotiated the rest of the course – and it was obviously there especially for those who had been planning on avoiding the mud! This was effectively a tyre car wash, where you had to lie down and squeeze between them, all but guaranteeing you ended up face first in the muddy water on the other side. Looking back it was actually a good idea as it got the fear out the way early, and a few moments later we were back on our way with nice squelching trainers.

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Over the next few kilometres we encountered a whole host of nostalgia inducing stumbling blocks, ranging from classic monkey bars and spider webs to a Wipeout style Punch Wall and some sort of insane version of the Gauntlet from Gladiators… but with pigeons! The one I was most pleased with personally was Hang Tough, a classic Gladiators event where you need to swing from ring to ring. I had never tried this before and to be honest didn’t think I had the upper body strength, but it turned out I smashed it just like Jet, and I have to say I still feel pretty chuffed to have made it. The same goes for my wife who managed a huge jump to get up the half pipe and clamber to the top. The highlight for everyone though was a huge waterslide about halfway round – a nice reward after a gruelling series of hill climbs – which although it only lasted about five seconds was a massive rush and the release we all needed.

Monkey Bars newtons cradle Pigeons punch wall

It was not all easy going though: we should have known there were going to be some toughies when we were warned to wear gloves for the race, and one particular one that seemed to knacker everyone was ‘Newton’s Cradle’, where you basically had to traverse a number a number of swinging space hoppers / buoys, using a combination of momentum and pure chance to clamber from one side to another. I managed to get away with relatively minor rope burn, but some others looked like they had been in a rope fight with an octopus.

Aside from the obstacles, the course itself was pretty challenging. Although the event was not timed (I know I keep calling it a race, but that was not really the point) the 10 km course was littered with rabbit holes, nettles, and generally uneven ground just waiting to trip people up or sprain some ankles. By about kilometre 8 our team was looking a bit like the walking dead, with two people half-limping from achilles related issues, others displaying an array of bruises on any uncovered limbs, and all of us dripping wet from our latest immersion.

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Still, this was where the team spirit really kicked in, as we approached what we knew would be the final – and one of the toughest obstacles – the Travelator! Yes, this really was every 90’s child’s fantasy, and just like in Gladiators you felt like you had gone through the mill in the Eliminator by the time you reached it. This one had four lanes: Fast, Medium, Slower, and finally a reverse one for those who had literally nothing left. Obviously I can’t say no to a challenge like this, so had to take on the fast one, and it was tricker than it looked. The pace is not an issue, it is the sudden change of pace combined with the angle, that really makes it hard. That said, after a momentary stumble where I convinced myself I was going to lose it, I managed to recover and power through to the top victorious!

Moments later the rest of the team was up with me, having completed various levels of Travelator-induced difficulties depending how much they could still walk, and we had a last wave for the cameras, before a final water slide to the finish line. First ever obstacle race completed! Looking forward to more next year!!

Finish

Swim Rage

I have a reputation at work for being a pretty calm person, to the extent that I am often told it can come across as too laid back and should be careful people do not mistake it for laziness. I am pretty sure I have always been like this, and think it probably comes from playing a lot of sport when growing up, being able to burn off all my excess energy on the pitch.

When I was at uni I really got into swimming, and particularly having paid good beer money to join the campus pool felt I needed to get my monies worth so ended up going a good few times a week. I have tried to keep it up ever since as I find lapping up & down a pool is by far the best way to relax: head ducking under the water to drown out ambient noise; tinted goggles creating tunnel vision by blocking out peripheral distractions; and regular controlled breathing lending itself to a meditative state. It also gives plenty of time to clear out any anger, a resistance free way of punching through the water to emerge (hopefully) stress free.

Lane Rage

Unfortunately though, it does not always work out that way. One of the reasons I love swimming so much when the outdoor pool at my gym is open, is besides the fantastic feeling of being outside, it means there is almost twice as much space to accommodate all the members. Even if the open air side is packed, you can usually switch to the covered pool and have it almost to yourself. But at this time of year I should be so lucky. And with a lot of people crammed in together, the stress busting benefits are somewhat reduced, and you sometimes find yourself in new territory: Lane Rage. Allow me to explain…

Hulk

The thing about this is whatever your attitude to swimming is, pretty much everyone reading this will have experienced their own version in the pool at some point. The main reason is that there are so many different types of swimmers and most pools simply do not have room to accommodate them. As someone who spent 4 years as a lifeguard in my youth I have spent plenty of time watching swimmers over the years, and am therefore going to categorise (i.e. wildly stereotype) some of these, which like politicians each have their own unique way of annoying me:

  • Old Dears – Found at almost every pool during the daytime, these painfully drag out their breaststroke, usually side by side chatting. They will be in the water for ages taking up a whole lane, and afterwards boast about the fact they swim for an hour, despite only completing a dozen lengths at best. Although they seem harmless, the pile ups they cause in other lanes mean they are often indirectly culpable for much of the stress others feel in the rest of the pool.
  • Hyper Teenagers – Another group of regulars, these play with their oversized floats & footballs, ignore the lane ropes and end up drifting in and out of the lane section whilst their parents ignore them from the Jacuzzi. These used to be a nightmare when lifeguarding, and are equally bad when in the water. I know this sounds very grumpy old men, but there you go.
  • Amateur Swim Coaches – Inevitably when I try to get in a quick dip after work the slow lane is occupied with a kid’s swimming lesson. This is absolutely fine as they keep themselves to themselves. What does get me though it parents who are too mean to pay for the lessons but try and copy the coaches in teaching their own little ones to swim, usually whilst the lesson is actually going on in the adjacent lane, therefore just crowding out everyone else. This summer I saw the most extreme example one evening, with one poor kid being belated by his Dad for not trying hard enough, whilst having to work his way through every bit of training equipment imaginable, including fins and a snorkel.
  • Middle Laners – My pool is split into three lanes: Slow, Medium & Fast, and the average user seems incapable of understanding where they sit in this trinity. I read something once about our tendencies to categorise ourselves in many things – politics, intelligence, etc – as average, on the basis that as there are always some people a bit slower and some a bit quicker, then we must be somewhere in the middle. Unfortunately this mindset does not work well in the pool, as it ensures the middle lane is inevitably overcrowded with people kicking each other as they are unable to comprehend why others are travelling at a different pace.
  • Wannabe Olympians – Usually guys between 35-50 who honestly believe they can do butterfly, but look more like they are participating in an epic battle between a hungry hippo & angry croc. They take up an entire lane, splash everyone and make next to no progress, coming up wheezing on the far side with some sort of delusion it is worth thrashing their way back down again.
  • Speed Demons – Onto the route cause of today’s blog, having encountered one this very afternoon. It is great that you are a quick swimmer, but some consideration for others would be nice. Easily spotted from a distance as (usually) men with Speedos and swim caps (despite being bald and in a warm pool). Even with my own lane rage I always try to be aware of others (once a lifeguard…) but these are people who look to mow you down like you are competing for position in an Ironman. Perhaps they are so focused on themselves they don’t get lane rage, but it just winds everyone else up. My friend today was actually not too bad, but there has been so many occasions where they would rather cut you up with a mid-lap overtake, including a couple of kicks to the face for good measure.

Swim Rage

There is one solution to this – make sure you time your swims when the pool is not too busy – but if is easier said than done at this time of year. I thought for example that 5pm on a Sunday evening would be fairly quiet, but encountered almost all of the above groups tonight, so will have to add this to my list of no-gos. Still, there is always 6am on a Monday…