In the last week I’ve gone from feeling indifferent about swimming to really enjoying it, from managing indoor bike workouts to struggling and running has become a whole lot harder. These changes are down to one thing – a change of external environment, having gone from the UK to the Seychelles. This change has brought advantages as well as challenges.
Let’s start with swimming. As much as I disliked the 30 minute drive to the pool in the UK, the part I dreaded most was getting out after finishing the workout. The cold air in the changing room always had me shivering and I couldn’t wait to be back in the car with the heating on. This alone was enough to put me off swimming. Add the cold and busy pool that was more akin to an ice bath and swimming wasn’t exactly something that had me jumping out of bed. In contrast, swimming in the Seychelles is a dream. We’re fortunate to have excellent swimming facilities, with an outdoor 50m and 25m pool side by side. More often than not, the pool’s empty and I have my choice of lanes. Swimming here doesn’t seem like a chore, it’s so easy to turn up, jump in and get going. I actually like swimming now. Really, I do. I haven’t even mentioned the open water swimming here! I’ll get some pictures up in the coming weeks to give you an idea.
Here in the Seychelles my bike is set-up in a bedroom with the air conditioning on full blast and a fan just a few feet away. During the warm up sweat drips from my forehead and comes out of every pore on my forearms. That’s during the warm up. It couldn’t be more different to indoor training in the UK where I’d wear a jumper and a woolly hat and still be cold. This week I had one of my staple main sets of 6x 6 minutes at threshold on 1 minute recovery and my effort level was through the roof. It’s a hard workout on its own merit, but it felt a whole lot harder. I haven’t been training with a heart rate monitor, but I didn’t need one to know that my heart rate was sky high compared to doing the workout in the UK. On top of that, I need 3 times as much fluid here, which equates to almost 2 litres/hour. There’s no getting around it – indoor cycling here is just plain tough and mentally challenging. There’s nothing fun or glamorous about having to change your socks during a ride because they’re drenched with sweat.
Running here is hard. Going from a relatively warm winter of around 5 degrees C (41 F) to 30 degrees C (86 F) isn’t all that bad, but the difficulty is dealing with 80% + humidity. What used to be a comfortable pace feels much harder and 5k paced efforts feel like all out sprints. It feels like I’ve lost fitness overnight, but adaptation takes time, it isn’t immediate. I have to loop back to the house to rehydrate during runs, or at least plan routes where I can buy drinks along the way. First light is around 6am, which is usually the time I’m out the door. Leave it any later and it heats up quickly, which invariably diminishes the quality of the workout. If I’m not running in the morning, I’ll be out just before sunset, which is a great time to get some photos!