How do you Plan?

How do you compile a training plan for a 24 mile swim?

There are hundreds of books on how to prepare for a Marathon, a Triathlon or even the longer 140.6 milers, which always include some sort of training plan, structured ones that vary in length, “IronMan training in 12 week” the plans (that vary from quality to absolute bullshit, IMO!) that try and make the most extreme challenges look easy.

Lets face it – it isn’t called IronMan because it is easy. Therefore this is where i feel the foundation training plan for the epic swim will have a foundation that I am comfortable with, my plan for Regensburg in 2011.

I have spoken to each of my 2 swim buddies Fi and the Chris “the Shoulders” and we are expecting to complete the swim in approx 13 -15 hours therefore we have decided to base it on the Ironman theory for the following reasons; these are the only training plans that are anywhere near this length of time on the course and more importantly for me – i know this works.
A lot can be said on following training plans, but if you truly believe in a plan the confidence it can give you as you stand at the start is immeasurable.

What has been in place so far? The Loch’s are still too cold to be in any longer than an hour, (Loch Lomond this morning was only 1km in 23 minutes due to decreased temp over the past few days, due to rain and temp drop) therefore the basis of all training up until this month of May as been pool and gym work. Now we are into May the training plan is based on;

May = as many shorter distance swims as possible 1 mile to 2 mile ideally each swim, average of 8 swims per week between pool, sea and Loch’s

June = increase those distances once we remove the ice from the surface of the Loch!! Probably taking individual swims up to the 5-6 mile mark by end of the month

July = increase the distances again further to 8-12 mile swims but break a long swim into shorter 2-3 mile blocks, with break(s) between swims of 10 minutes and nutrition

One of the best pieces of advice i received was “You don’t train to finish an IronMan, you train to be at the start” and this is so true, you need to be in the best shape possible on the day of the event.

I fully believe the planning will be key to whether we are successful in August. We must develop a training plan that meets work / home life balance, but ensures when we walk towards this great Loch early (5am) on that August morning and we truly have the belief that we have done everything we could to take on this challenge.


Swim or Sin?

Sitting like a sardine on the usual chaotic but cheap(ish) Ryanair flight to Barcelona, wondering if I will be able to extend my open water swimming season to a few dips in the Med.
This seems like an exciting option especially after deciding not to get back in Loch Lomond this year due to a number of factors; the darkening mornings, the plummeting temperatures and the one lane rush hour roadworks on the Erskine Bridge. So ideal that I find an opportunity to pack the budgie smugglers and my goggles for a couple of last ditch open water swims in a hopefully warmer climate.
There is always a huge issue though and one that could jeopardise my plans, and it’s nothing to do with the threatening wildlife that may take a nosey at me thrashing about pretending to be a decent swimmer, no it’s much more serious than that;
It’s an issue that was set by my mum before she passed away in February, the bar opens around 11am everyday in the “casita de Vinaros”
Therefore can I refrain from the vino tinto and a wee cerveza por favor or do I just say sod it – August is 10 months away and my core training is on track for now and ensure we toast my mums tradition and remember her every morning with a small refreshment and a clink of glasses

Pushing Limits

The title says it all, this blog is slightly off the norm but I thought I needed to share a 10 minute youtube clip with anyone who is joining me on my swim journey in reading my regular bloggings

I first saw this clip prior to my Ironman adventure and only really saw it as a motivational clip, however it runs much deeper than that. Pushing Limits – not just physical, but more importantly psychological barriers

Please, cut and paste the above link to the browser- turn up the volume (ideally plug in the headphones and shut out the world) now enjoy and hopefully you understand why I NEED to challenge myself – Unknown limits

“The question isn’t why, it’s why not”

i promise that next blog will be more of my more traditional drivel!

Life Goals

I have been writing a regular column in the local Greenock Telegraph for 6 months now. This talks primarily about my thoughts on football related matters and I felt a recent insert was very relevant to how i came to decide on my 24 mile Loch Lomond swim as a key challenge in my life. Therefore please find a slightly “de-footballed” version which were published in the paper on Wednesday 11th Sept 2013


I have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to achieve some great successes throughout my life, both inside and outside of football. A few of these have been what I call ‘life goals’. I was lucky enough to achieve my boyhood ambition of playing at Wembley in an FA Cup Final at the age of 21.

But for years thereafter I never had a burning desire to complete any one specific ambition or goal. It was more a desire and a need to be successful, one that is still with me today. A desire to give 100 per cent in everything I do; to make the most of every opportunity. However, I found at the age of 40 that I now had a second life goal that I NEEDED to achieve.

I had developed an insane desire to complete an Ironman [2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile run]. After managing to achieve that particular goal, I have to admit that I struggled psychologically with a ‘what next?’ scenario. CT0036_40603

I had developed a need to set new targets. I know that I constantly need to have a new life goal, and when I don’t have one I can be an absolute nightmare to live with.

The Ironman experience gave me so much strength and made me realise that life is too short to sit about waiting for things to happen. You have to make them happen.

To everyone out there, ask yourself is there something that you really want to achieve or experience in life but never seem to get round to it?

I know your football team winning the Scottish Cup would be up there, but I’m really referring to something that is within your own personal control. Would you like to run a 10K? Complete a triathlon? Travel the world? Write a book? Skydive? Learn to fly? Or even mend a broken relationship with a loved one?

Do it! Don’t wait until next week, next month or next year. Make the time and start out on the road today and achieve that one thing which will help fulfil you.

In football, I have experienced a lot of wonderful talent lost to the game because the individuals didn’t have the correct application and attitude. That unbending desire to achieve their life goals. I have lost count of the number of people who approached me over the years sneering that they were a much better player than x, y or z professional footballer. But these guys were often sitting in a pub with a beer belly. The reason they didn’t make it was obvious. They might’ve had all the talent in the world but none of the commitment.

Attitude, commitment and desire to succeed are the biggest attributes anyone can have in life. I have seen so many average players make a fantastic living out of football due to having an at times unhealthy desire and single-minded focus to achieve their dreams.

Ambitions can come in all shapes and sizes – focusing on your ambition is key.

Your ambitions are not out of your reach. Far from it in fact. If you have the correct attitude anything is possible!

You can achieve a life goal; something you have dreamed about doing but never really thought possible. All you have to do is commit to it and make that first step TODAY!

In my case it isn’t so much as a first step but a dive! 11 months and counting!

Blind leading the Blind

Me, John and Kevin

Me, John and Kevin


“Blind leading the blind” – this is actually cruel to the optically challenged

I thought as i began the planning of the Loch Lomond Swim i would review the longest swim of this year
DATE = August 25th VENUE – Luss to Balloch – DISTANCE = Should have been 8 miles
After meeting at 5.40 at the usual car park we left 2 cars and drove to our starting point at Luss Pier.
Kevin, John Big Chris and myself parked the cars and a few of the team armed with wet wipes needed to head into the bushes to do “what bears do in the woods” before heading off in a southerly direction down the Loch.
A cool air temp of 8 degrees was quickly met with a pleasant water temp as we set foot into the Loch.
It was a stunning morning, barely a ripple in the water until we showed up, i wish i could share my photos with you but they are all lodged in my grey matter and i will take some fantastic memories to my grave.
“Does anyone know which way we are going?” at this stage we should have been a little more prepared but everyone relied too much on the other 3 and made a basic error, looking at the map afterwards and with that fantastic but never on time attribute; Hindsight – within the first mile we should have clung right to the shore and followed a pretty direct 8 mile route all the way; However we were taken aback by the beauty of the loch and the scenery we decided inadvertently to visit every island south of Luss, you may think i am kidding, well i’m not.  Inchconnachan, Buchinch, Inchfad, you name them we saw them all.
What i will say though if anyone gets the chance to swim (or boat!) through the enclosed area to the east of Inchconnachan, give it a try; stunning! we had an eerie mist descend on us just prior to heading into the secluded area but we can’t blame this on navigational cock ups as that happened practically as soon as we left the car. sunshine and dense fog, again a stunning memory.
Once we finally discovered Inchmurrin was on our right instead of left we headed towards Duck Bay in the distance and i have to state, i never liked that Fecking place even before i start swimming, now i detest it as i’m sure it moves further away the more we swim, either that or a bugger of an optical illusion.
Anyway we all flapped along passed Duck Bay and Cameron House and onto the sticks and eventually home to the beach at the side of the “Maid of the Loch”, 5 hours after beginning and probably in excess of 10 miles due to detours, John and Chris slightly more majestically and quicker than Kevin and i, but we made it.
Back to a fully tourist packed Luss to collect the cars and we hit the Coach House for soup and monster rolls with ham and a huge gloat and smile all round
This was a cracking day out, the weather was immense and certainly planted the seed for swimming further in 2014.

No turning back – 38.6k

We are now at the end of the Open Water Swimming season and have been blessed with a fantastic late summer. April 2012 was all that last summer really had to offer, this year it took a while for the water temperature to rise or even the ice to break but what we lacked in April and May was more than made up for later in the year.

Many of our early morning family (Loch Lomond Loonies) have been on separate journeys throughout 2013, pushing our boundaries as far as we dare go or even imagine and i will “chauner” on about these in later blogs. My journey was simple, my longest ever swim increased from 3.8k in early 2012 to a fantastic and thoroughly exhausting 15k swim in late August this year with a Luss to Balloch epic.

Loch Lomond is 24 miles, to put that fully in perspective that is 2.2 miles short of the marathon and a total of 38.6k. When i raised concept idea to Big Chris and Fiona (who both swim like fish, i am very much the weakest link) and invited them over for a chat “are you planning on a relay so we share the distance?”  They asked in stereo, I have to admit my answer was pretty sharp and it involved expletives. In my opinion relays are cheating and i told them this in no uncertain terms, all 3 of us are out there to cover every inch of the distance for ourselves, no help, just each of us against the distance.

So hear i am scribbling away, 11 months to go, the date hasn’t been set but we expect it to be one Sunday in August, totally weather dependant. but as i finish of these final ramblings I fully realise that once that [PUBLISH] button is pushed there is no turning back, i will have set my challenge and i don’t quit, I wont give in, I’m too proud, the competitive juices will be flowing. I’m not going to be the quickest, i don’t care about that, it’s a battle with myself, with my mind and my need to punish this old body again.

So here we go, the publish button needs to be pressed and i’m fully committed to the challenge, i hope you enjoy my journey

My Office wall - constant motivation

My Office wall – constant motivation