Monday, May 6, 2013

April 29-May 5: So Much Swimming

Last week, I got to start tackling the long swims that my coach promised me in preparation for the 4.4 Mile Great Chesapeake Bay Swim next month(!). Now, I’ve done many long swim workouts before (hello, 100x100 yards), but I need to start taking on some long, continuous swims, as I’m told that there aren’t walls to hold onto every 100 yards in the Chesapeake Bay.

Somebody should get on that.

Since this fact won’t be changing before race day, I’m doing several long, continuous swims each week to train for the race. Things like 6x1000, 4x2000, and the like, are going to be quite common around these parts for the next month, even though I’ve really never done swim workouts like this before in well over a decade of competitive swimming.

Even though these types of workouts were new to me, I didn’t anticipate them being difficult, given that I used to swim multiple 6000-7000 yard practices a week, and often logged up to 70,000 yards by the time a week was over. And while they weren’t really DIFFICULT, they were much more challenging than I expected them to be, for several reasons.

  • I hit an energy wall around 3500 meters these days. But why? Probably because almost all workouts I do are around 4000 meters. Funny how that works.
  • Swimming for 2000+ meters in a pool without a single break can, in fact, get boring. This is actually great practice for maintaining focus during the Chesapeake Bay Swim, because I will basically be looking at brown water and two bridges for about two hours.
  • Holding my 500 meter pace for a 2000 meter effort isn’t possible. I’d thought the pace I held for sets of multiple 500s would be appropriate for a 2000 meter block, it turns out that the 10 seconds of rest at the wall actually does make a bigger difference than I’d thought.

While I have a lot of pacing issues to work through, that’s exactly what these long swims are for, and I can’t wait to get back into the pool to do more mindless sets like 8x1000 this week.

Monday: 5500 meters of swimming in the 50 meter pool in the morning, done as 2000 (32:02), 2x1000 (15:58-16:17), 3x500 (8:09-8:16-8:35).

Tuesday: 5.4 miles of easy running (9:11 pace) in the morning, then 4000 yards of swimming (fast) with DCRP masters in the evening.

Wednesday: 5.05 miles of running around random Arlington streets in the evening (8:56 pace).

Thursday: 75 minutes on the bike trainer, including 45 minutes at tempo effort (167W), in the morning.

Friday: The day I plopped down at 7 am to work for a few minutes, and suddenly it was 2 pm. I did, however, get in 6000 meters of swimming, done as 3x2000, averaging about 34 minutes for each 2000 in an effort to keep a steadier, more sustainable, pace for this long swim.

Saturday: Slated for a 1:30 outdoor ride, but faced with the need to be at the pool all day, I hopped onto the trainer for 1:40 really early in the morning, and mixed in 45 minutes at tempo effort (162W) and 2x10 minutes at threshold effort (202W and 205W) to simulate more difficult terrain, and to avoid complete boredom for almost 2 hours.

I also prevented boredom by watching Monsters, Inc.

It may not have been the best choice to watch a movie that hammers in how dangerous children are before running a two-day meet with almost 170 children on the pool deck.

Sunday: The meet wrapped up early enough that I had just enough time to get in 4000 yards of swimming, including 20x100 at 1:30 (hitting 1:19-1:21, look, it was a long, tiring meet, speed was not happening). Exactly 38 seconds after I got out of the pool, the lifeguard blew the whistle to shut down the pool for the day.


  1. 70,000 yards a week!?!? I don't know how you did it - my concentration would never stand that much swimming, even if I was physically able. You have serious strength of mind (well, given your endurance accomplishments, I'd kind of figured that out anyway, but swimming just seems so much tougher to me than everything else).

    With your level of training and dedication, I know you'll nail 4.4 miles no problem. Heck, even on an 'off' day you managed 6000m at a pace I couldn't hold for 600m ;)


    1. It was all with a big team, so, there were people around to make it more interesting. Solo swims are the hardest.

  2. Damn, girl. I will now nap in your stead.

  3. I say concentrate your efforts on convincing government officials to build those walls in the bay. You are doing it all wrong.

  4. OK so this is why you are not impressed with my swimming 1200m in 38 min.

  5. The Bay Swim is far from boring! And the water? Not so brown. More like green.

    Enjoy the long swims. I did a lot of 400s with paddles in training - the 10 x 400 was a favourite, alternating paddles and normal. The current is quite funky in the middle section so the paddle work helped me. It is freaky to swim perpendicular to move forward!

  6. So much swimming indeed! I haven't done long sets in a while, but it looks like you rocked them. I honestly don't miss the 100 x 100s and 50 x 200s that were staples in college swimming for us.

  7. You continue to amazing me with your swimming awesomeness. Since I'm new to the sport, one issue I face frequently is staying focused and mentally engaged during long (for me) sets. My 500s are nothing compared to your 1,000 or 2,000 are child's play. ;)

  8. Glad that you got from work on Friday and fit in a swim! And Monsters, Inc seems like a great way to stave any sort of boredom!

  9. 100X100?! holy moly you are a machine.