Robbie MacNab’s English Channel Quest – Part Three

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The English Channel – good progress through January

In December 2019 (HERE), we introduced you to Robbie MacNab, Age-Group triathlete who is attempting to swim The English Channel solo in 2020. Taking part in a Channel Relay had planted the seed, but with the booking made and a public declaration of intent, the task now is to get prepared to complete the task alone.

We’ll be following Robbie regularly through the year, documenting the highs and lows, and ultimately seeing whether he can achieve the goal. Here is his latest update.

(Links to all of Robbie’s Channel Series: #1 | #2 | #3)


Triathlete vs. The Channel – February 2020

When 4km can be both missing and magnificent in a month

January, on the whole, was a good month. I say ‘on the whole’ as I did miss one of my weekly targets for the first time. I was 4km short on a 20km week and while I initially beat myself up over this, the rest of my targets have been met and life is bound to get in the way sometimes.

Unfortunately, my day job requires that I’m ‘on call’ every second week and I’d left the missing 4km till the weekend, and then as bad luck would have it, work called and I was unable to make it to the pool. The lesson learnt is that I need to get some of the bigger swims done earlier on in the week to give me that flexibility later on. Whilst I’m discussing the missing 4km, on a more positive 4km note, my monthly 4km TT was completed around 1 minute 30 seconds quicker than I did in December, which resulted in happy coaches (which is always magnificent when it happens), and athlete.

Now that more people know what I am trying to do this year, one of the most frequent questions I get asked is “How far are you swimming today?” It can vary greatly from 2km to 6km and more. I’ve also completed my first double swim which ended up being 7km, break for lunch then back in for 3km.

Some facts and figures for those lovers of stats are that during the last month I swam 100,000 meters, which totalled 29 hours in the pool. I wish I hadn’t just worked out I’ve spent more than a whole day in the pool, as those figures are only going to go up, obviously! It is safe to say I am looking forward to getting into the open water, so I don’t have to turn every 25m.

Outside of the pool, I’ve finally got myself signed up with a new Personal Trainer (Russ) in the gym. This is really outside of my comfort zone as being honest, I feel completely intimidated by the weights area at the gym.

Robbie MacNab

With the ever-increasing volume and efforts, Ryan has drilled into how important my total body conditioning is for long-term success. Working with Russ, I am aiming to improve my core and strength to help minimise injury and improve performance.

Robbie MacNab

I found that having my initial discussion with Russ was similar to anytime you have to see a new doctor and re-cap any history you have already gone through. This is completely my own anxiety, and Russ was thorough in his questions about my goals etc and it was clear he understands the areas I need to be working on so I’m really looking forward to this side of my training moving forward. I am now moving forward with a progressive programme at the gym and feel great. I fill share details and tips from this programme in the coming months.

January Training

Swims: 26
Distance: 100km in the pool

Robbie’s Tip of the Month:

Where I train at David Lloyd, Port Solent, I’m lucky that there are a couple of Masters sessions each week. As mentioned last month using these sessions in the middle of some of my longer swims really breaks up some of the monotony and my favourite session this month was a great set of 100’s mixing up pacing and drills. That was finished off with a 400 relay, set by the club’s coach Debbie, with the others in the lane which is always a fun way to end a session (although I then had added on another 1km)

Robbie MacNab

Robbie’s Coaches Tip of the Month
From RnR Sports’s Ryan Sosna-Bowd: 4km isn’t the end of the world!!!

I know last month we focussed on consistency being the key, but equally, success comes from maintaining a positive mental attitude and balancing sport and the rest of your life. Like Robbie, don’t let missing one session get you down.

Life will get in the way, and you can’t beat yourself up when it does. Do your best to minimise missing sessions when going for a big goal like swimming the Channel, but make sure your plan gives you the flexibility to adjust when you do and also keep the big picture in mind. If you are tracking with the big objectives of your plan and making improvements, keep this central to your focus.

However, if you’re not and start to miss a lot of sessions, then you and your team need to ask is the structure working and if not, adjust.