What is the next level and how do I get there?

curlycurly Issaquah, WAMember

Last year I created a thread called “is a 5K the gateway to marathon swimming”. Well, apparently the answer is yes. I stumbled across my thread when I was doing a search for training advice for longer distances. It was interesting reviewing the advice and commentary which helped me to accomplish my goals. This past summer was very successful for me in that I swam a great 5K race and improved quite a bit from my first effort. I also swam a couple 10K’s, with the second one building on the experience of my first one.

So now I’m thinking about how I want to build on my modest base with some cool swims next summer. A few things I did this past year will be my general model for next year. I spent a few months working on technique and improving my stroke. This has been something I’ve done for many years. It’s kind of a “rest and review” activity and I think it’s very helpful. I then started to build a base for distance swimming by increasing my distance each week until I was regularly swimming a 5K workout. In the pool, this was a variety of sets, just to keep things interesting.

My wife and I bought a kayak, and she learned how to be a support kayaker as I learned how to be an open water swimmer. We developed some courses that we would follow, and we learned how to operate as a team. My open water workouts for the most part were around 4-5K. As I got ready for my first 10K, I did do a couple longer swims, but I think the longest was about 2 hours. This all seemed to work out pretty well.

Here are my specific questions for developing my swimming for next year:

I think I’d like to work up to 20K. I doubled from 5K to 10K this year, but a double to 20K is a heck of a lot more K’s. Can those of you who have done this comment on this step. Is that too big a jump or is that a reasonable step for me? (Note that I finished my second 10K with energy and enthusiasm to spare.)

Regarding a training plan, I think I can get away with the 4 or 5K daily workout, but longer than that is going to get a bit of pushback from my kayaker who doesn’t want to spend her life paddling around a bunch of lakes. (I’ve pointed out to her that she is the knucklehead that married me, but that hasn’t really gotten me anywhere.) Is a 4 to 5K daily workout adequate preparation for a 20K? I might be able to get the sporadic 10K in every now and then.

Acclimation to lower temperature is a puzzle for me. I’m cold adverse, which means that it’s late September and I really should be back at the pool. (Apologies to Rod Stewart) I could acclimate if the temperature slowly lowered, but in spring, when I get back in the lake, the temperature is cold as heck and slowly rises. It's cold and rainy here in the winter and neither my kayaker or I find this conducive to being out on the lake year round. This keeps me out of the lake until the end of June. I have been very resistant to wearing a wetsuit or a farmer john, but I’m wondering if this might be a good way to ease into the lake earlier. Does anyone have good suggestions for a cold wimp to get into the colder water earlier?

(TL;DR) Is a 20K a reasonable step after a 10K? Is a 4-5K daily workout a good training plan for a 20K? Are there some good plans for acclimation for a low bioprene individual?

Thank you for all the help and advice this year. Let’s see what we can do next summer.

IronMike
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Comments

  • SoloSolo B.C. CanadaMember

    Adult onset here. I have learned that experience builds confidence. I live just north of you in the Fraser Valley, so have similar climate. Cold water acclimation is mostly mental, you already know how to swim, it is just a challenge to get in the water as it cools down with the change of season. Don't stop swimming outdoors! This is your opportunity, the water is cooling off right now, but still warm enough to swim. Set easy goals, 10 minutes to walk in, 5 minutes floating, then a few meters of swimming and get out. Do some research though. As the water goes below 6 Celsius, it can cause injuries. I set regular cold water swims as my mental toughness challenge for last winter as prep for this summer's swim in 12 degree water. The swim was the goal, so I had to do the training in order to have a chance of success. When my lake froze I swam in the ocean, which hovered between 6-7 degrees. Good luck, and have fun training!

    Bridget
  • I'll probably come and add more info to my post since I'm short on time but a 20k is definitely a reasonable and attainable goal for you. I went from training for Olympic triathlons where the swim portion is only about a mile to finishing Swim Around Key West 12.5mi (20K) in a year. This took careful planning to avoid injury but thanks to this forum and LoneSwimmer's blog my training and the logistics for my race were down to a T. Although I can't speak on swimming in that temperature, you can definitely race a 20K (or more!). Maybe come to the Florida Keys next year for your 20k, haha. Best of luck.

    SoloBridget
  • BridgetBridget New York StateMember

    curly said:

    I think I’d like to work up to 20K. I doubled from 5K to 10K this year, but a double to 20K is a heck of a lot more K’s. Can those of you who have done this comment on this step. Is that too big a jump or is that a reasonable step for me? (Note that I finished my second 10K with energy and enthusiasm to spare.)

    Acclimation to lower temperature is a puzzle for me. I’m cold adverse, which means that it’s late September and I really should be back at the pool. (Apologies to Rod Stewart) I could acclimate if the temperature slowly lowered, but in spring, when I get back in the lake, the temperature is cold as heck and slowly rises.
    I have been very resistant to wearing a wetsuit or a farmer john, but I’m wondering if this might be a good way to ease into the lake earlier.

    You want to 20K?? By NEXT summer? Do it. Absolutely. I've been a summer lake swimmer (upstate NY) for the past 10 years, ramping up serious summer training again in the past 2-3 summers-- meaning I swim a few miles at a clip when I have time after work or over the weekend if my daughter is busy having her own life. Laps at the beach for a few hours at a time the past few years. I shifted to the pool in January, after hiking and jogging to hold on to some strength and cardio. I also swam in the lake last fall until mid to late Oct- also a cold water wimp, or more correctly, a getting-wet-wimp at any temperature, I got able to tolerate 55F for a few miles. Who knew? Just at the beach, shallow, for safety.

    For most of the spring, I was able to swim on Friday evenings, weekend mornings, and Mondays. I routinely covered 15 miles in that span, and when the lake hit 55F, I started shifting to it. Not thrilled to go back and forth between the two temperatures, but I did have that job in the pool, and the lake is right near me, so skipping the drive to the pool gave me time to swim about 3 miles.

    For me, adding miles meant keeping my mind occupied. Going from 55-65F to 82F meant convincing myself that in the cold I could blast through a few miles with my shoulders essentially on ice, to prevent injury. In the warm pool, I could extend miles in what felt like wet velvet, with no risk of overworking my shoulders, because after 5 miles, I felt menopausal enough to not crank up the speed and heat up. (likely not an issue for you.)

    By June, I was averaging over 50 miles a month, with July topping 101. I did laps in the lake at my town beach, and into the open water with a kayaker at any opportunity. If your wife is your main kayaker, treat her regularly to a massage, day spa, lunch, or anything that she feels indicates your deep appreciation for her willingness to shepherd you around at a speed that lets you appreciate the motion of the sun and moon. NEVER take for granted the opportunity to have a kayaker. :-)

    You want to swim 20K? Do it. Shoot, if you have a place to swim, do it by Halloween!

    swimrn62ssthomasSoloIronMikeMoCodpm50Niek
  • wendyv34wendyv34 Vashon, WASenior Member

    You can totally do it Curly. 4-5K for your weekday workouts is a good place to start, then try to add a 10K weekly or at least every other week. 10K doesn't seem as far when you do it regularly. A month before your 20K, try to get in a 4 hour swim. That will give you the confidence that you can make the distance.

    If you're planning on Mercer Island, you should try to swim outside during the winter, at least a bit. Use your wetsuit when it gets too cold, but try taking it off and swimming the last 5-15 minutes without it, especially in the spring. That one is tricky because it can be tough to acclimate (for the time/distance) that early with our random weather.

    NiekDanSimonelliBridget

    It's always a bad hair day when you work at a pool.

  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Member

    Bridget said:

    You want to swim 20K? Do it. Shoot, if you have a place to swim, do it by Halloween!

    Bridget's right. You guys think too much. :-) Just go for it. Have fun. Be scared you haven't trained enough. Give it a shot anyway. If you don't make it, so what? You learned. Apply that knowledge to future swims and go do it again. And again. And again. There are so many great places to swim; don't spend so much time worrying about if you can or can't. Just go and swim. Life is short- follow your heart.

    JustSwimSoloNiekIronMikeViveBeneJaimieDanSimonellirosemarymintKate_AlexanderFlowSwimmersbluemermaid9ForeverSwimCopelj26Karl_KingeryBridget
  • curlycurly Issaquah, WAMember

    Sorry I haven't responded to all the great comments here. I was out of town for a while and not spending time on the internets other than doing some quick reads. Based on what is said above, it is becoming clear to me that once you start doing longer swims, the big part is mental not physical. To drive home that point, I was talking with a lifeguard at our pool and told her I was contemplating doing a 20K. Without hesitation she said, "You could totally do it." So it would appear that everybody but me knows I could do it. Hmmmm.... So I think I need to give my brain more of a workout and worry less about the physical workout.

    This also seems to be the case with the cold water part of the equation. Part of my time out of town was spent on a lovely lake where I went for a couple swims. I'm dogging it these days as part of my downtime and so the swims were somewhat like a manatee enjoying a sunny day. Water temp was 80F, which for me was absolutely delightful. Like I say, I was not working hard. The thought of jumping into chilly water is still pretty tough for me. But again, it looks like this is a mental thing.

    So, I'm going to have to work on the brain part. I don't know if that means to think less or think tougher. I guess that's the next thing to learn.

    SoloFlowSwimmers
  • SpacemanspiffSpacemanspiff Dallas, TexasSenior Member

    ssthomas said:

    Bridget said:

    You want to swim 20K? Do it. Shoot, if you have a place to swim, do it by Halloween!

    Bridget's right. You guys think too much. :-) Just go for it. Have fun. Be scared you haven't trained enough. Give it a shot anyway. If you don't make it, so what? You learned. Apply that knowledge to future swims and go do it again. And again. And again. There are so many great places to swim; don't spend so much time worrying about if you can or can't. Just go and swim. Life is short- follow your heart.

    @Bridget and @ssthomas comments reminded me of one of my favorite quotes about the intangible momentum generated by the first steps toward a meaningful resolution. The quote is from Scottish mountaineer, WH Murray. Murray knew a thing or two about the power of commitment. He wrote his first book (Mountaineering in Scotland) while he was a prisoner of war during WWII. He wrote it on toilette paper. After the first manuscript was discovered and destroyed by his German captors, Murray rewrote the entire thing a second time. In prison. On toilette paper. His book was credited as contributing to the global resurgence of climbing in the late 40's:

    We had definitely committed ourselves and were halfway out of our ruts. We had put down our passage money— booked a sailing to Bombay. This may sound too simple, but is great in consequence. Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe's couplets: Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!

    There are no guidelines for what you are capable of doing next. Pick something that both inspires and terrifies you. "Put down your passage money." Lean into it. Find the magic.

    NiekKarl_KingeryssthomascurlyMoCoslknightSolorosemarymintpavlicovKate_AlexanderIronMikerlmflystormsBridgetStephenKatieBunswimrn62

    "Lights go out and I can't be saved Tides that I tried to swim against Have brought be down upon my knees Oh I beg, I beg and plead..."

  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Member

    Evan needs a "Love" thumbs up, like Facebook. Thanks for sharing, @Spacemanspiff !

    curlyslknightSolopavlicovIronMikeSpacemanspiffBridgetKatieBun
  • curlycurly Issaquah, WAMember

    @Spacemanspiff Your contributions to this site are amazing. Thank you for these excellent thoughts. Very inspirational.

    ssthomasflystorms
  • MoCoMoCo Worcester, MAMember
    edited October 10

    @Spacemanspiff thank you so much for that - that's tremendous.

    I try to sign up for things that scare the crap out of me (or things that are fun to do with friends). That's how I know it's the right kind of a goal. If I'm not scared of it, it's not important enough and I won't work hard enough for it.

    For me the trick is balancing realism (I'm really not ready for x) vs nerves, and the more I do it the easier it is. Not the managing nerves part (I say as I am in the throes of race week anxiety) - but determining whether it's nerves or realism holding you back from commitment.

    One tool I've found to be really valuable is the "what's the worst that could happen" exercise. Usually the answer is failure, and hey, that's an important part of life. If there's a reasonable chance of an outcome that would really not be acceptable to you, that's when you reconsider. (The other use for that tool is anxiety management, where you use that question to pull out your biggest fear underlying your anxiety and look at it honestly. Then you take it to ridiculous excess so you can laugh at it.)

    wendyv34
  • SpacemanspiffSpacemanspiff Dallas, TexasSenior Member

    curly said: @Spacemanspiff Your contributions to this site are amazing. Thank you for these excellent thoughts. Very inspirational.

    Thanks for your kind words, @curly. The two things that bring me the most joy in life are swimming and writing. So writing about swimming is pretty much the apex of my existence.

    KatieBuncurlyKate_Alexander

    "Lights go out and I can't be saved Tides that I tried to swim against Have brought be down upon my knees Oh I beg, I beg and plead..."

  • I'm in the same boat. I'm new and after doing my IM Madison swim I felt good and kind of wanted to go again for another lap. That's what led me here: What's next? I was doing ~10km a week in the pool, and do wonder if I could do a 10km open water swim and see where that takes me. However, Chicago winter is coming, and Lake Michigan turns into an angry piece of glass soon. Is it too ambitious of me to think about Key West or another 20km in 2019? I'm a bit slow (40 mins/mile) so there's a lot to work on.

    j9swim
  • KatieBunKatieBun CornwallSenior Member

    You won't know unless you book the swim and plan your training. I know so many people who plan to book swims and then don't because they don't know if they'll manage to get enough training in. Believe me, when you've coughed up money for a swim, especially one that needs an escort boat, you'll train for it. ;-)

    flystorms
  • j9swimj9swim CharlestonSenior Member

    @handsomeloser - sign up train up is my motto and it can carry you pretty far in all this. so you've done 2.4 miles and would like to go longer, some things to think about - lakes, river, or ocean? water temp, wetsuit or no wetsuit, mass swim or escorted by a kayaker. how much time do you want to spend training in the pool? you want to swim a channel in the next couple of years than i would recommend first losing the wetsuit and going longer.
    i keep a growing list of swims i want to do because something about it interests me. each season i decide what my goal is that season - longer, colder, multi day, etc and look at the list to choose what swims help build towards the goal, what swims I want to do to experience something new, and which I want to do with my friends.
    Remember it's about fun, challenging yourself, and the journey. or put another way to quote @malinaka

    “Fame, money, and girls are what it’s all about,” said no swimmer ever.

    Swim Happy!

    KatieBunslknightflystormsIronMikerlm
  • KatieBunKatieBun CornwallSenior Member
    edited October 16

    2019 gives you lots of time. Try to fit in a few 10k events in 2018. Work out what suits you as nutrition, practise feeding, build your training indoors with winter intervals 2017/18 and outdoors once the temperature is sensible. This reminds me of a guest post @Ned wrote on @mpfmark 's blog a few years ago. I learned so much from it. Best of luck! http://www.markswims.com/2011/02/guest-post-ned-denison.html

  • flystormsflystorms Memphis, TNMember

    Yes! Try a 10k! Go for it! There's a 10k in Miami in early-mid April that is a great starter race because it's loops. You can get a good feel for pacing, etc. What you can do is use that as a gauge for a 20k (such as Key West) to see if you're going to be ready for it.

  • I think a 10k would be good but April is a bit too early for me (simply because my H1 2018 "A" race is Comrades in South Africa.) But I can definitely do it next year. I think a pool monster would be a good thing until I can swim in the cold lake sans wetsuit (I apologize in advance to anyone who happens to see this.) I figure March is a good target to try to do 20k a week in the pool and see where that takes me. But I've got plenty to read, thanks to you fine folks.

    Tonight is 4000m in a 15 yard pool. Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers.

    ssthomasflystorms
  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Member

    handsomeloser said:

    Tonight is 4000m in a 15 yard pool. Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers.

    You should add the results of this swim to the "Perils of Lap Swimming" thread. :)

    Copelj26Solo
  • curlycurly Issaquah, WAMember

    ssthomas said:

    handsomeloser said:

    Tonight is 4000m in a 15 yard pool. Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers.

    You should add the results of this swim to the "Perils of Lap Swimming" thread. :)

    Darn it all! I was hoping that the Joys thread could sneak by the Perils thread while no one was watching. We'd better start looking for more Joy here because the Perils still is outrunning the Joys.

    ssthomas
  • IronMikeIronMike Moscow, RussiaCharter Member
    edited October 17

    handsomeloser said:

    Tonight is 4000m in a 15 yard pool. Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers.

    I feel your pain! My "regular" pool is 50 feet 4 inches long, and I've done as many as 330 laps in that damn thing. So dizzy at the end...

    Bridget
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