Saturday, July 12, 2008

Training My Body for the Cold (By Mallory)

Sorry that I disappeared for awhile, but I’ve been super busy getting ready to fly out…….I leave on Tuesday!

So to aid my cold acclimation I’ve been taking the dreaded ice baths. I must say that I can’t think of too many things that you can do to yourself that are more horrific than that. I read up on Navy SEALS training to give me ideas and I learned that the SEALS lay on the beach letting the cold water wash over them for a specified amount of time, and then they get out and do calisthenics for awhile to warm up, and then its back into the water. This is repeated over and over. This gave me the idea for my own training.

It is interesting to note that the SEALS are adamant about the fact that they do not recommend taking ice baths on your own. Their hypothermia training takes place with lots of supervision, including doctors and paramedics on site to take care of someone if they come down with a nasty case of hypothermia. Unfortunately, the best I can do is to have someone with me to drain the water if I pass out and to take me to the doctor if necessary. When I am alone, I don’t push myself nearly as far. I can’t imagine how tragic the news story would be if an aspiring channel swimmer drowned in their bathtub.

The process is this…….

I grab my large swim backpack and trash bags and head to the nearby hotel to fill them with ice from the ice maker. Then I head back home and fill the bathtub with cold water and dump the ice in. Usually, depending on how much ice there is, the ice is melted by the time I climb in. I get in with my snorkel and alternate between lying face down and lying on my back, making sure that all vitals/my head are underwater at all times to maximize the effect. I stay in for 15 minutes, and then get out and do jumping jacks, push ups, crunches, anything to warm up for 5 minutes. Then I repeat, or not, depending on the circumstances (if someone is with me to supervise).

Also, I’ve been trying to make myself cold all the time, not just in the water. When I drive I try to blast the air as high as possible and force myself to deal. Earlier this week on my way up to Plymouth I did this and by the time I got their, my hands were so cold that they hurt, and upon turning off the air all of my windows and my rearview mirror fogged up immediately.

Then there is the weight gain……yesterday after I swam I weighed in at 158. Before we went out to Boston I was weighing in at 148-150, so I think it’s safe to say that it’s progress. It should be, the amount of junk food I’ve been putting into my body…….

So what do you eat when you want to gain weight, you ask?

1) Hagandaaz Ice Cream. I get the pint size and eat it in two sittings. Half is about 500 or so calories.
2) Potatoe Chips. I’ve been eating an entire bag in one sitting. About 1000 calories.
3) Popsicles, candy, marshmallows, fruit roll ups, etc.
4) Starbucks. Really you can get anything there and it will be fattening, but I’ve been doing the Strawberries and Crème with half-and-half.
5) Fazolis. Here is my order: Regular Fettucini Alfredo with Chicken and a side Cesar Salad, a Peach Lemon Italian Ice, 4 breadsticks, and a turtle cheesecake. Just in case you were wondering if it is possible to spend over $10 for one person at Fazolis, it is.
6) Olive Oil. I’ve been putting cream cheese AND pesto on my bagels in the morning. Delicious!
7) Peanut Butter. Yum.

Also in my research, I uncovered an interview with Lynn Cox (Swimming to Antartica) where she was talking about staying warm. She confirmed my suspicion that I will be better off not kicking AT ALL in the channel, as that just pulls warmth away from the core and increases the surface area from which your heat can escape. Since then, I’ve been pulling my entire practices and I dropped the leg portion from my weight training. It is a lucky thing that I do not have shoulder problems.

So now I’m tying up all of my loose ends, preparing to fly out on Tuesday. If things go as planned, Clara and I will be doing a 4 hour or so swim in Lake Michigan on Monday where the waters average in the mid 60s. Then we will be in London for two days before we make our way down to Folkestone where we will be able to swim directly in the channel!

It’s getting pretty real now.


Maggie said...


I just wanted to wish you luck on your channel swim my tide dates are the 8th-16th of August and nerves are starting to set in now even though I swam it 21yrs ago. Good luck girls you can do it !!


Tom Angsten said...

Hi Mallory,

You are somewhere over the Atlantic right now. I wanted to wish you luck on your swim. Another WKU alumni was here in Chattanooga last weekend, an ex swimmer named Craig Evans. He was here for the Waterfront Triathlon. He did real good and placed 2nd. WKU alumni swimmers ROCK. Looking forward to following your journey.

Tom Angsten

kristin e said...

omg i can't believe it is here already!!! Good Luck and most importantly have fun!!! all of your hard work is going to pay off and what a GREAT accomplishment you have already started to achieve! you two are going to do fabulous!!!!

~kristin hopkins

Mallory said...

I just wanted to thank everyone who is reading our blog and keeping up with our efforts. Your support means a lot!