Recovery after a long hard season

Dawn_TreaderDawn_Treader Member
edited August 19 in General Discussion
In other endurance sports one takes a few weeks off after the training and races are over. I am looking for more feedback on how marathon swimmers recover after they have worked so hard. Thanks for sharing.

Sisu: a Finnish term meaning strength of will, determination, perseverance, and acting rationally in the face of adversity.

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  • I am curious about this too. My "season" will be finishing in just a few weeks and my coach is ominously muttering about "recalibrating, crosstraining, recovery" and I am wondering not only what this will look like for me, but what it looks like for others.
  • suziedodssuziedods Charter Member
    I think alot depends on ones, ahem , age.
    I find for workouts/swims lasting longer than 3 hours I am needing about a day per hour.So , if I do a 4 hour session on a Sat. I can swim on Sunday but it won't be pretty. Monday and Tues.. again.. it's okay but it feels like cr** and my already slow speeds are close to glacial. Come Thurs? I shld be back to normal. In terms of a "season" I can't afford to do more than one big swim a year... so a "season' is whatever leads up to that one big chunk of money.( I am over 50, so those young folks probably have a different response.) :)

    Looking for the next big thing.. ... @suzieswimcoach www.suziedodsswimcoaching.com

  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    The most important recovery happens between the ears! :) And there is no timetable for such things.
    cwerhaneCopelj26
  • loneswimmerloneswimmer IrelandAdmin
    I didn't do any big swim this year (boo no money) but my training metres are still ok (~800k, still on target for annual megametre).

    The last 4 weeks I've hit a wall and after only taking three weeks of easy swimming, it's like I haven't swam for months. I've lost 30 seconds off my 400m time! At the same time, I don't feel ready to go back to proper training. I hate this time of year when I know I can't commit to a target for next year, so I'm sticking to low pool metre sessions of about 3k, for the next month at least and just working a bit of threshold, and a bit of speed and trying to hold my technique in check. This time of the year for the past 3 years I do start thinking about doing a 4 to 6 hour pool session every month, entirely so I won't feel like I've completely atrophied.

    http://www.loneswimmer.com The World's Most Popular Open Water Swimming Blog

  • heartheart San Francisco, CACharter Member
    I found that doing a little triathlon (blasphemy!) last Sat was refreshing and fun. Just being in the sunshine doing something physical but a bit different helps. Also, I'm suddenly enjoying short races (2-3 miles). Pretty soon it'll be time to start piling on the yards again.
  • ColmBreathnachColmBreathnach Charter Member
    Listen to your shoulders. They'll tell you when they're ready to go again. Also, maybe more importantly, you need to give your head a rest too. There's nothing wrong with spending time doing easy swims (like 95% of the population). Short 2-3K sets are nice. I know. I've tried them (for science).
  • I'm glad it's not just me! I have been feeling sluggish for 3 weeks and have been doing a lot of shorter sets, and messing about in the river. I do feel the urge to start cranking it up though, and doing a decent (>3 h) swim once or twice a month.......
    Copelj26
  • edited October 2013
    Thanks for bringing this up. After finishing my first marathon swim ever (Lake Zurich this August) I've been wondering what other swimmers are up to after such a long swim. I did only two to three short sets (2-3K) per week for two months. Now I feel ready to uppen distance and sets per week again but haven't decided on a new goal yet that would actually keep me going...
  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsCharter Member
    25 km Beltquerung? http://www.beltquerung.com not to far from Berlin.

    http://openwaterswimming.eu - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!

  • SharkoSharko Sonoma County, CACharter Member
    I think ColmBreathnach is right on....and if not planning on another long swim...I would say, when rested and glycogen levels back up, try some cross training and light weight work and core work to build a base for next season...I see a lot of obsession with some swimmers endangering their precious shoulders....I understand obsession but I would say get some balance!!!

    "I never met a shark I didn't like"

  • Niek said:

    25 km Beltquerung? http://www.beltquerung.com not to far from Berlin.

    Niek, that's a good one but also very tough because of unpredictable winds and currents. Unfortunately though I am a wimp when it comes to jellyfish... For now I prefer freshwater. :-)
  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsCharter Member
    edited October 2013
    @stella_schwimmt You'll find almost all the openwater events in Germany on http://www.schwimmkalender.de and for triathlons and some openwater on http://www.kraeftemessen.com

    You have one of the few German marathon swims near Berlin:
    16 km Neuruppiner Langstreckenschimmen, Neuruppin, Germany
    or look for other marathons in Germany here

    http://openwaterswimming.eu - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!

  • I am now swimming about 30km a week and I believe how well you recover depends on what you do before, during and after every swim session. Before, you need to make sure your body has the fuel and is hydrated enough to do what you intend it to do. During the swim you should continue to keep well hydrated and eat simple carbs 90% and protein 10%. Once you are warming down from the session concentrate on getting the acid out so spend time loosening the arms, neck and upper back (if you are doing mostly freestyle sets). Then i have a carton of milk (350ml) as soon as i hop out (this protein helps repair/rebuild damaged muscle). Then go home and eat your veggies and lots of them!

    By taking care of your body the whole way through recovery times will be decreased.
  • Thanks Kane, but I am looking really for advice about after the season. Wondering if anyone takes breaks.

    Sisu: a Finnish term meaning strength of will, determination, perseverance, and acting rationally in the face of adversity.

  • ssthomasssthomas Charter Member
    I haven't touched the water in two weeks... I always need a break after the season, just to catch up on real life again. Taking some time away from swim suits, while I mourn the end of open water season, always helps get me motivated to get back at it, even if it means hot swimming pools for a few months.
  • I didn't do any big swim this year (boo no money)

    @Loneswimmer, I would advise you to stop participating in expensive conference calls with "celebrities". Hey, if I ever win the Euro Lottery I will sponsor you.

    Thanks all for your feedback which I take to heart.

    Sisu: a Finnish term meaning strength of will, determination, perseverance, and acting rationally in the face of adversity.

  • kswksw Member
    I swim a similar weekly distance to Kane and after tonight I am taking a two week break.

    Feel fine, no injuries/niggles just always good to have a break re-charge and get ready for a big block of swim training in the pool upto Xmas.

    I use Maxifuel as an energy drink before and during can anyone recommend a good recovery drink??? just trying a few different things out. Many thanks.
  • msathletemsathlete Victoria, British Colubia, CanadaGuest
    Hi there

    I am just coming off a long year of training which ultimately lead to a 70km solo swim. It's been 2 weeks and 2 days since the big swim and I am finding the recovery process quite difficult. I am used to swimming 40km + per week and am down to 2km if I am lucky.

    Any suggestions to help me through this would be greatly appreciated. I miss swimming for so many reasons : (
  • SydneDSydneD Senior Member
    I am so glad this thread re-emerged because I have been having the same questions. Basically, I just swim. All year. All the time. And I love it. And it keeps me sane, and my family is happier when I do.

    That said, I wonder if I am feeling a bit sluggy lately because of the lack of a longer break. (If time permitted, I would swim every day. Darn that pesky work thing!)

    I took a few days off after Lake Zurich this summer, but ran in Paris almost every day, then started swimming outside as soon as we hit Spain. One more swim to go, the Alligator Light Swim next week, and after that, the "season" is over. My husband was asking what I was going to do, and whether I should start getting on my bike more, etc.

    My shoulders don't hurt but I know I definitely have a tendency to overtrain--because I am manic.
    Those of you do take time off, how do you compensate for the ensuing insanity? Because I feel like I am going nuts when I don't swim...
  • JacqueJacque M. (Germany)Member
    I had my "big swim" two weeks ago after a season that started last october and brought me to about 500k of swimming. For the last two weeks I swam only half my usual weekly distance and just for fun - so no real training, just playing around, doing the things I like most (lots of backflykick with fins! yeah! :) ) and celebrating the end of a great open water season with shorter swims (around 1 h) in my favourite lakes. I also spent some time analyzing and wrapping up the season (big fan of statistics here...) and pre-planning the next season (next big swims and a rough timetable to get there). Starting this week there is a three-week-no-swims-allowed-plan in action and I hate it. I miss swimming, I am grumpy - but I know I need it, maybe less for the body, but definitely for my head. The break gives me time to catch up on things outside the world of swimming and it is desperately needed to motivate me to get back in an overheated, overcrowded 25m-pool for some real training starting in october again. To not go nuts completely I try out different sports in that time - this years project: rowing (fun, but, well, its not swimming...). A break of three weeks seems to be the right choice for me - less, and I will not make it to christmas without a swimming crisis, more, and I will completely loose my feeling for the water. This plan worked for me last year, so I am just doing it again and I am already looking forward to the new season.
  • RECOVERY FROM CHANNEL SWIM Dear Swimmers, What is the best way and how long should it take to recover from a channel swim ? Thanks John

  • glennglenn Member

    JohnTierney said: RECOVERY FROM CHANNEL SWIM Dear Swimmers, What is the best way and how long should it take to recover from a channel swim ? Thanks John

    I recon the best way to recover after a swim like that is to turn around and swim back in the opposite direction

    Spacemanspiffssthomassuziedods
  • ssthomasssthomas Charter Member

    JohnTierney said: RECOVERY FROM CHANNEL SWIM Dear Swimmers, What is the best way and how long should it take to recover from a channel swim ? Thanks John

    Everyone is different! Just take your time and don't push it if it hurts. Consistent swimming is helpful to me, but making sure that I don't overdo it is also key. Usually takes me a couple of weeks to feel normal after a long swim. Last year after my Lake Powell swim, it took about 3 months... so it just depends!! But, don't worry, you'll eventually be back to normal, unless you really hurt/tore something during your swim.

    suziedodsSoloJacque
  • suziedodssuziedods Charter Member

    I didn't even want to take a shower for about 3 weeks after my EC swim.... much less swim but @ssthomas is the expert on these matters.

    ssthomasJacque

    Looking for the next big thing.. ... @suzieswimcoach www.suziedodsswimcoaching.com

  • I'm pretty happy to see this thread still going, and looking for any feedback more experienced marathoners may have. I swam my longest race, Border Buster 25km, 4 weeks ago. It went really well, I'm not a fast swimmer but I can maintain a decent "forever pace" and I was pretty pleased with how I handled the swim. However, here we are 4 weeks later, I feel great, no aches or pain, no fatigue, but I can't seem to make the transition back to working hard and going faster, even for short bursts. It's like a switch was turned off, and I can't access the reserve of energy I usually draw upon, and usually for hours at a time. I can barely keep up to my normal swim practice pace, and I've been well-rested, eating properly, etc ever since the swim. I can tell from this thread that it's not unusual, but if anyone can explain the science or mechanics behind what my body is going through, it would help me do some research into what I might be able to adjust next time to minimize it, or to help me work through it now. It's been really bugging me, and a grumpy swimmer is never a good thing. All feedback appreciated!

    emkhowleySoloJacque
  • emkhowleyemkhowley Boston, MACharter Member

    owsnadine said: I'm pretty happy to see this thread still going, and looking for any feedback more experienced marathoners may have. I swam my longest race, Border Buster 25km, 4 weeks ago. It went really well, I'm not a fast swimmer but I can maintain a decent "forever pace" and I was pretty pleased with how I handled the swim. However, here we are 4 weeks later, I feel great, no aches or pain, no fatigue, but I can't seem to make the transition back to working hard and going faster, even for short bursts. It's like a switch was turned off, and I can't access the reserve of energy I usually draw upon, and usually for hours at a time. I can barely keep up to my normal swim practice pace, and I've been well-rested, eating properly, etc ever since the swim. I can tell from this thread that it's not unusual, but if anyone can explain the science or mechanics behind what my body is going through, it would help me do some research into what I might be able to adjust next time to minimize it, or to help me work through it now. It's been really bugging me, and a grumpy swimmer is never a good thing. All feedback appreciated!

    Hey Nadine- Great job on the Border Buster, and I hear you on the feeling like something switched off. I felt like that a lot after my Loch Ness swim in 2015, and sadly, I still am not back to "normal." I feel like one of those video games where you have the life bar up at the top that tracks your energy status and mine ticked down a block or two after that swim. It could be as @evmo mentions above a "between the ears" problem, and I'm not unfamiliar with those. It sure does feel physical most of the time, though.

    I don't know what the mechanism or science is of it, and I've tried to swim through it. I've managed to do a few swims here and there where I've felt like my old self, but by and large, I haven't, so I, too, am curious what others have to say about this. I suspect it's more in my head than I realize, but it sure is frustrating and I'd like to get out of it. Will stay tuned to this thread.

    SolossthomasJacque

    Stop me if you've heard this one... A grasshopper walks into a bar... https://elainekhowley.com/

  • wendyv34wendyv34 Vashon, WASenior Member

    I've experienced the same thing this year. Having SCAR as my first event of the season, I've had a difficult time switching gears for shorter events. I've only had a couple of swims at what I felt was optimal pace for the distance and one of those was in 56 degree water. Several of my 5Ks were 5 minutes slow (for me) but I realized I could've swam the course another 2-3 times at the pace I fell into.

    Most of the time I feel like an aqua-sloth, (term coined at Colman Pool a couple of weeks ago during a break between sets). I can occasionally get up to speed in practice, which assures me that I haven't completely lost the ability to swim faster, but I'm having a hard time making myself do it. I have a ton of aches and pains that never quite seem to go away, (a function of being middle-agey, I guess) and I definitely need a break from swimming. Once the season is over, I'm going to take some time off from swimming, ride my bike, lift weights and get some new tattoos, (just to be sure I stay out of the pool). Next year I plan to focus more on long swims and not worry about the short stuff.

    ssthomasJacque

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

  • Sometimes hearing that other people seem to have the similar issues is reassuring just by itself. I felt like an "aqua sloth" for weeks last fall. I have not done anything like an EC crossing, or boarder buster, so I can only imagine that it would take a lot more recovery time. I found that I have to wait until I feel "ready" to swim again- or at least on the cusp of being ready mentally- before I even let myself in the water. I still beat myself up for awhile over my "slothy" pace, but eventually I will be back. I keep reminding myself that somehow I will be back to normal and find some speed, but in the meantime knowing I am not alone helps and I just need to work through it.

    Jacque
  • JacqueJacque M. (Germany)Member
    edited August 29

    I can't add to the mechanics or the science but two years and a couple of long swims later (see above my post from 2 years ago... ;-)) I certainly gained a lot more experience on what works for me recovering from a long season:

    PRE SWIM: There are two things I really need to take care of in the weeks leading up to the swim, if I want to swim and recover well: Tapering and Food. Lots and lots of both. As with everything in marathon swimming this is highly individual but I need 2-3 weeks of light (really light! max 2k-per-session-light!) taper-training, and lots of food. Might be the carboload-effect or just the good food, but it works fine for me.

    SWIM: I identified two aspects of the swim that have an significant effect on the recovery afterwards: Number one is cold. That's not surprising, but the colder the water the longer the recovery. Don't know the reason, I suspect it has to do something with needing a lot more energy during the swim or maybe even some physical damage. Number two is - at least for me - emotions. It sounds weird but for me this is a far more relevant recovery-factor than the actual conditions of the swim (beside the cold). If I swim in "adventurous" conditions, but my mind is set right, the recovery seems a lot easier and faster than with an comparatively "easy" swim of the same distance and temperature, if I am fighting emotionally during the swim. I suspect (again) this has something to do with the energy-cost of emotions running high, but after integrating mental training in my preparation I (mostly) swim with more inner peace and (than) recover better although the swims got longer, rougher and colder (I realized that just this season because I had a bloody normal 6-hour-OW-training swim with emotions running high that took me out for about two weeks afterwards while I usually only need 3-4 days to recover).

    POST SWIM: After the swim there are four things I need to take care of to help my recovery: One is Food. Again: Lots of food for at least 2 weeks. Best time ever: Swim is done and all I need to do is eat. :-) Two is a good old fashioned sports massage the day after the swim and than again at least 3-4 more every couple of days. That seems to support the muscle recovery. Three is rest. As I mentioned in my post above I stay out of the water for about 2-3 weeks, and even then its at least 4-6 weeks of very light training. It feels like this is the time the ligaments and tendons need to recover unless you really hurt something. And four is - again - emotions. I mentioned that in another post (had something to do with the depression-like symptoms one might face after the big swim), but before I can think of going back to some real training or even planning the next big swim, I really need to "arrive" emotionally in what I just did. That sometimes takes days and even weeks to fully understand, but - as before and during the swim - there are techniques that help to get there (big fan of sport psychology here... :-D)

    This is all just my experience, it's highly individual and as always I never do anything that just doesn't feel right. If I listen to my body I might not understand every detail, but for as long as I swim my body always told me when it's time to start getting serious again. Happy recovering everyone!

    loneswimmerIronMike
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