Tag Archives: food

More brief lessons from marathon swimming – II – Marathon swimming is like childbirth

I split what was originally a single list,  because well, if you are writing every week for over four and half years, you need to make your ideas count. Also, I found that the original draft just kept growing and likely will continue to so do, so this will easily allow me to add another part at some point in the future. (Which is already started).

  • No food in the world tastes as good as [Dooley's fish n' chips in Tramore] after a marathon swim. This works for your preferred location and fast food.
  • The water is always rougher than it looks and the wind is always higher.
  • But it was better yesterday.
This wave was as high as ahouse
This wave was as high as a house, and the wind was Force 11

 

  • Chocolate, coffee and porridge is practically a balanced diet.
  • Nothing is better than porridge, (even if you hate it).
  • Every marathon swimmer should crew at least once in their life to appreciate how essential the role of crew is to our swimming.
  • It’s not the length of the war swim, but the depth of the foxhole pain of the training and who you share it with that counts.
  • Marathon swimming is exactly like childbirth. You don’t know exactly when it’ll start, how long it’s going to go on for, or how much pain will be involved. You may also beg for drugs and try to punch someone. And it’s all forgotten mere minutes after the event is over. I make this comparison with absolute male certainty.
  • You have never farted like you have farted after six hours or more of liquid maltodextrin feeds.
  • The patch of warm water that embraces you, punishes you worse when you leave it. So it’s not entirely unlike divorce.
  • The way a marathon swimmer looks after six hours in sub-ten or eleven degree water is good evidence of the evolutionary link between humans and apes.
  • The way a marathon swimmer looks after 14 hours or more in salt water is good evidence of the close link between humans and whales.
  • All Carb/maltodextrin costs twice as much as you think after you have thrown out all the prepared but unused feeds.
  • When forced to poop while in the sea, make sure the wind and tide are going in the opposite direction you are and that there’s no-one behind you.
  • No swim ever goes 100% to plan. Ever.
  • The people who ask “why” will never understand your answer. The people who understand, will never ask.

Preparation for a 10 hour swim…

Alarm clock set to 4 a.m.
2 home-made Solo Bars (560 calories each),
1 ham sandwich,
4 chicken sandwiches,
1 flask of Tomato & pasta soup,
1 flask of coffee,
1.5 litre home-made smoothie,
1/2 litre milk,
4 litres of isotonic drink,
500gr. of grapes,
1 banana,
1 packet recovery drink,
1 small slice of fruit cake,
2 small chocolate bars,
1 packet dextrose,
3 Kendall Mint Cakes,
Ibuprofen,
Peppermint oil capsules (in case of cramps),
2 pairs of goggles,
2 pairs of togs,
2 swim hats,
2 nose clips,
Lanolin, Vaseline & Channel grease,

4 hours sleep.

Oh damn.

Finally a tasty alternative to porridge

Ok, this is thanks to the Hive Mind – food for breakfast, endurance sport or the Channel. I’m going to use this on our next long swim.

  • One cup of porridge oats (not pinhead)
  • 2 tablespoons each of honey and peanut butter
  • You can also add sultanas or raisins
  • Mix the peanut butter and honey to a paste
  • Add the oats and mix
  • Leave in the bowl or use greaseproof paper to make a bar
  • Place in freezer for 5 minutes (just to firm up)

It’s god-dammed delicious, even if like me you find honey too sweet. It’s also about 560 calories! Yes I guess it’s essentially a kind of flapjack. (Hopefully the dog who has been clearing my porridge bowls can lose a bit of weight now).

Calories

For me, a 3 hour 40 minute swim, consumes close to 3,500 calories. I think the standard rate quoted for swimming is about 830 per hour for “moderate” swimming. I consume about 900 per hour with slightly higher intensity. For longer swims like this morning, obviously, speed is fairly constant, (except I increase it for the last 10 minutes).

Thoughts on feeding for the 8 hour swim

So I consumed the full 2 litres fruit smoothie and maybe another 2 ½ litres of isotonic. I also ate two bananas and a few handfuls of grapes during breaks. My liquid intake looks a bit low, but I think that’s kind of normal for me as well. Certainly for the first three hours I felt bloated from the carb. loading. Later on I would have loved some solid food (other than fruit). But that’s one of the swimmer’s dilemmas. What you can eat while swimming is a tiny subset of your normal diet. Some of the guys went for cold pasta as sold food during the break, but I can’t stand cold pasta, another limiting factor.

If only we could find a way of making a waterproof sandwich! All told though, the fruit smoothie worked from an energy and liquid point of view. Of course, there were, shall we say, repercussions, from 8 hours of a liquid fruit diet and two hour drive home. :-[