Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Twelve years ago when I decided to start training for a 2.4 mile ocean swim, I didn't know if I could swim two laps of the pool. I knew how to swim. But after several years of NOT swimming, I was filled with self-doubt about my ability to swim that distance. However, I was determined to train for the Peaks to Portland as a tribute to my brother Robbie. As the months passed, I gradually added ten minutes to my workout then twenty minutes, etc. I remember the first time I swam one hour freestyle without stopping--- I felt like I had won an Olympic Gold Medal. The following year I continued to gradually extend my swim workouts to two hours per day. However, with work and family life, I had to create a training program that would work with my busy schedule. I planned on training 2-3 days a week with 3+ hours each day and on the other days I would have a shorter swim of one hour or I would incorporate cross training. As the years passed, I continued to add extra time to my "long day" workouts. After I swam the 2.4 mile swim, I never imagined that I would be a marathon swimmer several years later. I continued to add "time" to my workouts. Training for a marathon swim is very similar to training for a marathon run. You don't have to run or swim a marathon everyday but you need to have a "long training" day each week. And similar to running, an athlete should gradually build up their endurance. Depending on your level as a swimmer, it make take several years of training before you can swim a marathon distance. In my case, I realized I had the ability to swim a marathon distance after my ninth year of training. Last year I swam 32 miles in sixteen hours at the age of 57. However, everyone is different---a strong, young competitive swimmer may need only a year of endurance training to swim a marathon. You won't know what you are capable of doing, unless you try. So, go for it!