Cook Strait Swim, New Zealand

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Peak season for swim training for the North Channel

Whenever I plan a marathon swim, I divide my training schedule into three segments.  I count backwards one year from the target swim date and divide it into three unequal segments.  Early  season is fairly light training, mid-season is longer workouts and cross training, and peak season is the the last five months before my target date (North Channel in July).  I have entered into my peak season of training.  I will train six days per week.  Three of those days will be long endurance swims.  Every two weeks I will add an hour to one of those days.  For example, I swam for three hours today. In two weeks, I will swim for four hours in one day (every week). The other two days of the three long endurance days will be three hour swims each day. The other remaining days of the week will be short swims of an hour and cross training. In four weeks, I will swim 5 hours in one day (each week) and the remainder of the three endurance swim days, I will swim for 3 hours each day and the remaining days of the week will be one hour swims.  As soon as the ocean temperature reaches mid-forties, I will start my transition from pool to ocean.  I will have split day training with long swim at the pool and short swim in the ocean.  With ocean temperature in the mid-forties I will swim no longer than an hour.  As the ocean temp increases, I plan to have longer ocean swims and shorter pool workouts.  During my peak season of training, I will lift weights (light weights) to build upper body strength.  On days that I work as a nurse (Yes, that's right I'm still working at the age of 64) and babysit my grandchildren after I get out of work (ages 6, 4, and 3), I plan to cross train on a stationary bike after I tuck my grandchildren in bed. My goal is to train six days per week in preparation for one the most challenging swims in world.  North Channel...here I come!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

North Channel swim training.....Plan "B"

In July I will attempt to swim the North Channel between Ireland and Scotland. This will be my second try at the 21 mile swim known as one of the most difficult channels in the world.  I've been preparing for this grueling swim for the past several months.  However, sometimes the best-laid plans can go wrong.  Part of marathon swim training is that a swimmer should always be prepared for the unexpected.  A few months ago, I was slammed by a large wave to the ground and landed on my right scapular on my back. Initially, I did not feel any discomfort from being thrown like a rag-doll.  But a few days later I started to develop tendonitis in that area. I felt no pain during my swims but afterwards I felt a dull ache in my scapular. After 18 years of open water swimming, this was my first injury.  I didn't want to jeopardize my swim career so I quickly decided to go to plan "B".  I went to a sports rehabilitation center for treatment. No swimming for three weeks to allow my tendons to heal. The recommended treatment was deep muscle massage and acupuncture. After three weeks of intense therapy, my scapular is pain free. I am very pleased with the outcome.  Taking a few weeks off from swim training helped in my recovery.  Lessons learned in life.....always have a back-up plan.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Rest and Recovery during Marathon Swim Training

My last few postings on my blog have been about my swim training for July 2015 solo attempt of the North Channel between Ireland and Scotland.  As I previously mentioned, my training includes endurance swims, cold acclimation, and cross training ( weight lifting, rowing machine, speed walks, etc).  Today, I would like to focus on the importance of rest. In my early years of training, I would train 6 days a week and felt guilty when I took one day off.  But after 18 years of being an open water swimmer, I have come to realize that rest days are necessary for recovery from the necessary long and hard training days.  Sometimes I may take three days off in a row to let my body get "energized".  My best advice for an athlete is to listen to their body. A swimmer will not gain anything if they arrive at the start of a solo swim feeling exhausted and sore from over training. So, enjoy taking a few days off from training and you may find that you will feel stronger and more energized.   Enjoy your days off!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Swimming Boot Camp

In less than ten months I will be attempting a solo swim of the North Channel between Ireland and Scotland. To prepare for such a challenging swim at the age of 64, I have increased my training.  I continue to work as a nurse 32 hours per week and help care for my grandchildren 40 plus hours per week.  On my days off from work, I capitalize on my training.  I call it my "Swim Boot Camp".  I will swim, cross train, and lift weights all in the same day for at least 3 days per week. I vary each bootcamp day with endurance swims, eliptical workouts, treadmill, rowing machine, powerwalk/jogs, stretch cords workouts, core workouts, etc.  I cannot afford a trainer so I go to Youtube and watch a number of their videos on swim training.  There are several outstanding swim videos with great workouts. My swim boot camp for the month of October will be a 4 to 5 hour training day.During the other days my training is less due to work and family commitments.  As each month gets closer to my target date of the North Channel, I will increase my training hours of swimming and cross train for a couple of hours all in the same day. I will not taper until I board the plane for Ireland.  Today, I had a boot camp day.  This morning I swam for 2.5 hours and incorporated speed work in the last hour. Afterwards, I combined a power walk and jog for one hour. Then, I used a rowing machine for half hour.  Afterwards, I weight lifted for an hour....I worked on my upper body and core. Then, I used swimming stretch cords to work on my technique.  Also, I continue to follow a healthy eating plan.  I consume healthy snack every two hours during my training and I drink lots of water.  Since I'm trying to lose weight, I watch my carbohydrate intake, too.  So far I have lost about 15 pounds.  Also, I have continued with cold acclimation. On the day I attempt the North Channel, I know that I will have done all the necessary training to cross this grueling channel.

Friday, August 29, 2014

North Channel swim training update

My next solo swim attempt of the North Channel between Ireland and Scotland will occur in about 11 months.  My training includes endurance swims, weight lifting 3 x per week, and cross training. (And yes, I still work 32 hours a week as a nurse and help care for my 3 young grandchildren 40+ hours per week).    Last year I intentionally gained weight to help fight off the notoriously cold waters of the Irish Sea.  The extra weight on a swimmer is somewhat comparable to wearing a wetsuit....it keeps you warm.   The extra weight certainly helped me to stay warm but it significantly slowed me down, too.  I made the decision to lose some of the excess weight to see if my swim speed will improve. I plan to continue with cold acclimation by swimming late into the swim season here in Maine.   For the past few weeks, I've been consuming smaller portions and following a healthy eating plan. I am very pleased with my progress. I want to have a successful solo crossing next year and I will do all the necessary hard training to reach my goal.....and, I realize there is an element of "LUCK" involved with Mother Nature.  I hope next year she will be kind and give me weak currents off the coast of Scotland.  But in the meantime, I will train hard and hope for the best.