The six and a half hour training swim

My e-mail about the six and a half hour training swim

From: JP
Sent: Monday, June 27, 2005 10:38 PM
To: Sunrisers
Subject: Mama said there'll be days like this...


Just wanted to send an update on training - you've got to take the good with the bad, and this one fell into the later category. (A learning experience, as my father would say.)

Last Thursday, Bobby and Jon took me down to Hunters Point for what I was hoping would be a 7-hour swim. It was gray and overcast when I jumped at about 6:30am. We were hoping to get fairly close to the Golden Gate before turning back. The first hour wasn't too interesting - it was gray and there's really nothing that exciting to look at that far south.

At about 1.5 hours, I felt a slight pain/tightness in my left shoulder. I had been feeling some pain in my left elbow for the past few weeks, so changed my stroke just a bit at the start of the swim. But now my elbow was fine, and my left shoulder felt tight. I stretched my shoulders at 2 hours, but by about 2.5 hours, I felt some pain in both shoulders - nothing horrible, just a constant dull pain. My stroke rate was constant, but I just didn't feel that I was making much headway. I had two Advil at 3 hours, and needed both of them. Instead of making it up to the GG Bridge, we did a tight cove, and I hit 3.5 hours at the flag.

The Advil kicked in around 4 hours, and I started to feel better. But in addition to the dull pain in both shoulders, my right knee was starting to get sore. I suspect it was because I was trying to balance my stroke, which I had changed on account of my left elbow. I stretched my knees a little, and had two more Advil at 5 hours. Still gray, still nothing much to look at.

I finally made it down to Hunters Point, and then turned in towards Candlestick to avoid some of the wind. At 6 hours, we hit the beach, and I just about gave up. Bobby had some good-natured degrading comments for me, which was exactly what I needed to hear. I put my head back down, and swam for the piers at Hunters Point. I made it there a little after 6.5 hours, and called it quits.

Friday was a rest day for me. My shoulders were sore (and still are). I'm not sure if I did this on the swim or while napping afterwards, but it feels like I twisted my right ankle. My right knee felt fine afterwards, and my left elbow felt much better after the swim then it did before. I did a short swim on Saturday and Sunday, and followed that up with a massage later on Sunday. This next week is a rest/recovery week for me.

So, the question one asks now is - what did I learn on the swim / what do I need to do differently next time? (In no order whatsoever, except for the first one.) I think that I wasn't in the best mindset at the beginning of the swim, and that had a huge impact on the rest of the day. It was discouraging to feel some tightness/pain so early in this swim, especially since the last swim felt so good, and I think a more positive outlook would have helped a lot. I know I need to spend more time stretching. I think that I need to spend less time swimming at race pace with the masters team, and more time swimming long distance sets. I learned that I prefer to float on my back without kicking during water breaks - treading water / standing up in the water takes too much energy, and I can't catch my breath and drink if I'm kicking. I'd like to try moving my first water break to 45 minutes, my second to 1.5 hours, and then 30 minutes for each following water break. This just makes my first water break sooner, but doesn't add additional stops. I'm pretty happy with my nutrition plan, but might experiment with changing a few of my feeds to half strength. No matter how much lube you think you've put on, you can always use more. And sunblock with titanium dioxide is the way to go for the areas that burn easily.

Thanks again to Bobby and Jon for piloting and keeping me in the water. And a big thanks to all of you that continue to ask about training and offer encouragement - it's really appreciated.

See you in the water...


Go back to some misc Channel stuff Go to the first eight-hour training swim
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