Since I left the question of how I am preparing for my swim mostly unanswered in my first blog post I figured I should follow it up with a post about what I am doing every week, every day: training! A lot of people have asked me, “how do you prepare for a swim like that?” “do you just swim continuously in the pool?” “will you do a practice swim where you swim 20 miles before hand?”
So here is the gist of what I am doing: there are three kinds of training sessions that I am doing. (1) Pool swimming (2) Weights/strength training (3) Open water swimming. Each week I complete 7 or 8 swimming sessions. Additionally, I complete 2-3 lifting/strength sessions. I started this regimen in early March so I’m starting month 4 of this training schedule!! (It’s crazy how time flies). My typical week right now follows this schedule:
Monday: 1 pool session, 1 open water session
Tuesday: 1 pool session, 1 weights/strength workout
Wednesday: 1 pool session, 1 open water session
Thursday: 1 pool session, 1 weights/strength workout
Friday: 1 pool session
Saturday: 1 open water session, optional: weights/strength workout
(JCC Outdoor, 25 meter pool–main training facility)
The total distance per week that I am swimming has increased incrementally since March. Initially I was swimming around 16 miles in a week. Currently I am swimming approximately 28 miles. I will peak in early-mid July swimming 34 miles in a week. A rule of thumb that I have read/heard from other marathon swimmers is that you should be swimming the total distance of the swim you are attempting per week for several months prior to your swim. In other words, I need to be swimming at least 19-20 miles per week for a few months before my P2P attempt. As Paige Christie recently wrote in a blog post about her preparations for her 120 mile, 8 bridges swim (she’s a beast, see link to her blog at the bottom of this post) “You can’t study like a B student and expect to get A’s. What this means is that you need to align yourself and your training to the specific demands of the swim.” It’s always better to be over prepared than under, so I am very content swimming well over 20 miles and eventually 30 miles per week for my P2P swim rather than the minimum recommended 19 or 20.
The pool workouts I am doing are different each day/session and were designed by Kim Bierwert, my college swim coach. Abby Bergman, my teammate and training partner while we were both still at Smith, is following the same pool workout regimen in preparation for her Catalina Channel swim this July! The types of pool workouts that we are doing are very different from ‘in-season’ practice sessions. For one, the workouts are longer with more yardage (no surprise there). They also include swims that you would never do in a typical college practice. For example, one workout this week had a main set of 2×3000 (60 laps each). For all the non-swimmers out there reading this: the longest distance that I have swum in a college-distance practice is usually a 500 (10 laps) or maybe an 800 (16 laps), most swimmers typically swim distances of 200 or below. The longest race in college is the 1650 (1 mile) so there is never a reason to swim anything close to that, let alone over it.
(Doing some 20lbs plank rows at the JCC post swim workout)
I’m following a weights/strength program that Milana Socha (former assistant swim coach, strength coach, and recent grad from Smith’s masters program!) created for the swim team to use over the summer.
While swimming the amount I am alone may be enough to let me complete the P2P, strength training elevates my swimming. For one, building strength out of the pool makes me faster in my swimming sessions. Additionally, combining swimming and lifting sessions makes me supremely sore which is great for my training! Not only am I getting stronger but I am learning how to swim through soreness and discomfort and even use my stroke to stretch out and loosen muscles while swimming which will be of great help when I am actually swimming the P2P.
(Chatfield Reservoir Gravel Pond)
Finally I am doing open water swimming! Currently I am in Colorado, a land locked state so I am swimming in ponds/reservoirs, no ocean for now unfortunately. Open water places just opened this past week and so far I have gotten in three sessions. (I’ll be writing a separate post coming soon about what these first experiences have been like). Training in open water is super important for lots of reasons! First, adjusting to temperature. Most pools are heated between 78-82 degrees. The P2P will range from 60-70 (a significant drop from regular pool temps). It is essential that my body and mind get used to what it feels like to swim in cold water. In this past week I have swum at Chatfield Reservoir’s gravel pond which is in the low 60s currently (although on Wednesday when I swam, it was supposedly 58-59, aka COLD). Doing these open water sessions also helps me get used to being in water where I can’t see a reassuring bottom of a pool and can practice skills like sighting to make sure I’m swimming straight and am on course.
Right now I am doing open water sessions that are equivalent in distance to the average pool workouts that I am doing. However, as the summer progresses I will be completing longer training swims ranging between 3 to 5 hours at a time. For these swims my brother, Anthony, will be accompanying me in a kayak and we’ll be practicing the feeding schedule that I will use for the P2P. Additionally in July, I am signing up for a 10K lake race which will be a great training swim.
(Map of Wednesdays three loops around pond tracked using my Garmin Vivoactive watch)
So there you have it! If you have any questions about my training or preparation that I didn’t answer above, feel free to message or comment and I’ll be happy to answer! For now I’ll end with a few relevant quotes:
“Thorough preparation makes its own luck.”
“It’s not the will to win that matters. Everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.”
Paige’s blog: https://theenglishchannelgrind.wordpress.com/2016/06/01/hows-the-grind-going-and-other-faqs/