Positive Ideas and Thoughts for Long Swims

jenschumacherjenschumacher Charter Member
edited March 2012 in General Discussion
Per @loneswimmer's request, this thread will be a collection of quotes, ideas, phrases, cue words, or any other form of positive self-talk you use or have heard others use to get in a good frame of mind for those long, challenging swims.

*Not to be confused with the aphorisms thread, I see this as a more in-depth discussion of how you use certain thoughts to get out of the 'low points' in swimming and extend the 'high points.'

Here's a good one from @KarenT:
I usually start a long training swim by thinking to myself "I have nothing to do today except swim". I love the luxury of it - a chance not to think about work, or my to-do list. I try to make it like a big present to myself, rather than worrying about spending all that time in the water. I give myself complete permission not to think about anything I'd like a break from thinking about.
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  • loneswimmerloneswimmer Admin
    edited March 2012
    You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water.
    - Rabindranath Tagore

    I'm never doing this shit again - everyone


    HollyTdpm50phodgeszohotimsroot
  • I like telling myself,
    "The muscles are strong
    They know what to do
    My job is to give them oxygen"
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    "Make love to the water."

    This one's not so much about preparing for a long swim... more about finding a better feel for the water when I'm feeling cr*ppy.

    Laugh all you want -- it works!
    dpm50
  • dc_in_sfdc_in_sf San FranciscoMember
    Whenever I'm in a bad patch, I always go with the ever popular "This too shall pass". This is also an important reminder when hitting that rare warm spot in San Francisco Bay as well... (though after all of @loneswimmer posts about Sandy Cove, I'm beginning to feel that SF Bay is positively tropical)

    http://notdrowningswimming.com - open water adventures of a very ordinary swimmer

  • One of my favourites if I'm struggling is to remind myself: "there are no emergencies in marathon swimming" - i.e. there's very little that can't wait for 30 minutes before being reviewed, and the desire to get out is rarely the same as the need to get out. (Of course, I know that there are some emergencies, but in the mundane course of a swim...).
  • jenschumacherjenschumacher Charter Member
    @evmo haha I saw yours last night and had a bad swim this morning and that's all I could think of! Sort of worked though...

    @dc_in_sf that's one of my favorites, I always remind myself that, like every other swim, I'll wind up standing on shore and it will be over at a point.
  • PabloPablo Member
    This has worked for me the past few weeks.

    I can't out swim the distance, so I'll just out swim the time.
    IronMike
  • ForeverSwimForeverSwim Charter Member
    #1: Being able to mentally accept the task at hand; you can defeat yourself prior to even starting if you do not believe you can complete the journey. I cannot emphasize this enough; our sport is 90% mental, 10% physical - hands down...
    #2: Mentally breaking the swim down into pieces; example: for a 12-hour swim, I break it down into quarters... "I just want the 3-hour mark, and I'm half-way to the half-way point; 6-hours, I'm already half-way done!; 9-hours, already 3/4 way done, and I'm not giving up now!" Same thing I give the 500 free high school swimmers I coach; break it down into chunks, and know where you want to be at each barrier, and then smash right through!
    #3: Think about your body as you are no longer in control, and simply just going on auto-pilot. Think of you "controlling" your body like it is a machine. Called "flow", it allows you to remove yourself from the exercise, and slip into a transcendent state where time and pain seem to just drift away. Similar to a "runner's high", the flow state is typically achieved during the swim, and lasts until completion. Personally, I look back on my channel swims, and it doesn't feel like I completed them, or that they took "that long" to complete! When you slip into the flow, you lose track of time.
    #4: During your long practice swims, focus and remember how you respond when you "start going down" due to exhaustion. How did you resond? Did you allow yourself to self-defeat and give into the pain, or did you focus on your technique and maintain your strength? Get the mental edge of remembering someone that motivates you, or something that inspires you, will help overcome the pain. Visualization is how I get through the rough patches; I picture a boat beside me of family, and friends I have lost cheering me on - when I get that mental image, the hair on my back stands up, I get tears in my eyes, and nothing is stopping me! Find that mental image that can take you over the obstacles
    #5: Enjoy the moment; being out in the middle of the ocean when the sun is coming up is an experience like no other. Have fun, and work hard! You will complete the journey.. No excuses, work hard and GET IT DONE!
    tortuga

    www.darren-miller.com Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania U.S.A.

  • I take a different approach. I have been moderately successful in training myself to achieve "mushin" (Japanese for "no mind"). It's a state where you lose yourself in the motion and are purely living in the "now." I did a four hour pool swim last Saturday and it flew by. The down side is that things tend to blur together and you only have the odd distinct memory of an event.
    I am also trying to practice tummo ("inner fire") which is control of body temperature, but am having less success with that. Fun to try anyway.

    -LBJ
    NoelFigartphodgeszohotortuga

    “Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.” - Oscar Wilde

  • mmeadmmead Charter Member
    During Training:

    "Mmmmmmmmmmmm........I'm earning the right to eat three mushroom swiss burgers in one sitting."

    During Swims/Races:

    "I'm not stopping/slowing down because I don't want to tell anyone how crappy I did."



    Maybe I'm simple minded.

    HollyT
  • HollyTHollyT Member

    I think ALOT about food. (simple minded person here with a bit of an eating problem as it is.) I count strokes or laps in the pool.... or breaths and more often than not I review work problems (Love my job) and solution options.
    All else fails sing pop songs to the fishies.

  • NoelFigartNoelFigart Lebanon, NHMember

    I'm hardly the world's most mentally tough person. But when I got scared by the shock of being cold, I told myself that all I had to do was keep swimming until either I finished or someone told me I had to stop.

    Another considerably more experienced swimmer than I commented that difficulties were merely an opportunity to practice skills. That was amazingly helpful to me.

    IronMike
  • dpm50dpm50 PA, U.S.Member
    edited June 23

    12-hour swim?! I'm totally schooled! Marathon swimmer newbie, so right now, three hours is long for me, and I'll need to stretch it out to 4-5 later in the summer. For some of you, I know, that's a sprint, but bear with me.

    So different techniques--while I don't listen to any kind of music while swimming (like that SwimP3 or whatever), some songs come to mind. A favorite is this one I heard first in a yoga class:

    Or, like you, I break things down--one repeat at a time, and I have to let go of any guilt that "I should be doing x!" I'm swimming and I chose that and want it, and there are some races that require the training I'm doing. Also sometimes, I get ideas for writing or teaching while swimming long.

    I need to consider that it's a spiritual as well as physical practice, as is, for instance, yoga (although I don't do any yoga class for more than an hour). I then recognize, this is my present tense, my now, and I've chosen my swim--and swim goals--for reasons that, while they don't always make sense to me, have drawn me to this moment, this water. I don't have to be anywhere else.

    Also if I'm doing a bunch of repeats where the coach has told me a pace and interval he wants me to keep it takes all my focus to stay with whatever he asks for. Sometimes when I first see what he wants me to do, I'm in "OMG! No way!" territory. So I have to take it all a piece at a time.

    That's where I am--and eager to hear others' thoughts!

    ForeverSwim said: 1: Being able to mentally accept the task at hand; you can defeat yourself prior to even starting if you do not believe you can complete the journey. I cannot emphasize this enough; our sport is 90% mental, 10% physical - hands down... 2: Mentally breaking the swim down into pieces; example: for a 12-hour swim, I break it down into quarters... "I just want the 3-hour mark, and I'm half-way to the half-way point; 6-hours, I'm already half-way done!; 9-hours, already 3/4 way done, and I'm not giving up now!" Same thing I give the 500 free high school swimmers I coach; break it down into chunks, and know where you want to be at each barrier, and then smash right through!

  • wendyv34wendyv34 Vashon, WAMember

    "I trained really hard for this event and I don't want to regret failure for a whole year!"

    IronMikeHollyT

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

  • IronMikeIronMike Bishkek, KyrgyzstanCharter Member

    I managed to write many papers and theses while zoning out swimming laps. Less so in OW as I'm always watching out for drunk boaters. But in OW practice (rare that it is), I'm mostly thinking about the current "set" (100 strokes fast, 100 slow pyramid) or I'm thinking about an upcoming race or think about a solo I'd like to do someday.

    Right now I'm stuck in a 12m long pool with those strappy things attached to my ankles. I listen to my swimp3, count the song I'm on, and plan my big ideas about swimming in some lakes here in Kyrgyzstan. That easily gets me through an hour or two of swimming in place.

    And when Led Zepplin's Immigrant Song comes on, I press the gas and pull those stretchy cords to their limit!

    wendyv34HollyTkipariz
  • Bubble bubble breath, bubble bubble breath, bubble bubble breath etc.

    I try to just concentrate on my breathing and nothing else. When it works it's pretty awesome. :-)

    HollyTj9swim
  • j9swimj9swim new york Member

    these are my waters - i know them and they know me swim to the next feed

  • I practice associating, thinking about my stroke or some aspect of my stroke, zoning in I guess you'd call it. And also practice dissociating, so that I can take my mind away from what is happening, usually with a song. I practice in training so I can deploy them when needed. I intentionally use dissociating when the pain gets high.

    I also imagine that my awareness extends only to a box that is ten feet long, 3 feet deep and 5 feet wide. I confine my thoughts to what is going on in that box, if I do that the box will simply move across the lake or river or whatnot, but I take care of inside the box and everything else will work out. It's what I tell myself anyway.

    OnceaRunnerswimdaily
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