Sunday, 21 April 2013

About my training

I am relieved that, after weeks and months of gruelling workload, no less than four bouts of bronchitis since September '12, and lately some back problems, I have finally been able this week to increase my training volume to a level more usually associated with serious marathon swimming.
To give you an idea, from Tuesday to Saturday I swam 41.000 meters as follows:
  • Tuesday 6000 meters (240 laps in a 25-meter pool))
  • Wednesday 10,000 (400)
  • Thursday 5000 (200)
  • Friday 5000 (200)
  • Saturday 15,000 (600; a pyramid: 5000+4000+3000+2000+1000, with 2-minute feeding breaks in between)
Most of my sessions these days consist of combinations of 1500 and 2500 meters, the shorter ones usually with a 8x50m sprint set included somewhere in the middle or the end to retain at least some sprinting ability. I also like to do sets with 100 or 200m IM in it (e.g 5x200 IM, or 10 x 200 m IM/freestyle alternating) for variety while maintaining volume, and to challenge myself with butterfly. Due to a dodgy back I skipped all butterfly this week.
As I get older (47 now), and with my main focus on long distance training, I have been getting slower. My 1500 meters nowadays is rarely faster than 23-24 mins (my PB from a few years ago is 20mins50s, hardly Olympic, but decent in amateur Channel swimming circles), my 2500 meters rarely faster than 38.30-39 mins. That is also a conscious choice. Rather than training to gain half a minute in speed, I prefer to train to keep my current comfortable cruising speed of 2 miles/h or 3,6 kms/hr up for a long as I can into a long swim.

It may sound surprising to many fellow long distance swimmers that throughout the year I usually train a mere 10-15 kms per week (if that), even though I try, not always successfully, to complement it with cross training (biking, slow jogging, weights).  More than 20 kms is a decent training week, >30 kms is very good, so > 40 kms is excellent.... A few months before the actual swim I up the volume. The key constraints are my working hours, but I must admit that without big goals coming up I find it hard to motivate myself for endless hours in the pool counting tiles.

Forty kms doesn't even get close to the training volumes of more professionally minded swimmers, but for this amateur plodder in his late forties it is quite enough! The last time I swam more than 40k in a week must have been in 2011, in the run-up to the English Channel. My biggest training week ever was a one-off  50 kms week, also in 2011, though that was in open water, which made it more bearable. 41.000 meters equals 1640 laps in the pool, which is very boring indeed. However, between now and the North Channel swim end of July I will need to do several more of such, and even more voluminous, weeks. This will be topped off with a tough 9-day (>120km) open water training camp in Cork, Ireland from 5-14 July, two weeks before the actual crossing.

This week also saw me, for the first time in a very long time, if ever, training on 5 consecutive days. Normally I always leave a day between trainings, to avoid injury, exhaustion, and boredom. While I do feel some pain in my shoulder tendons today, it is quite bearable, and I do not feel overly tired either. I take that as a good sign: even if I have been getting older, my body and mind have also adapted to several years of long training session and extreme swims. So apart from increasing the volume, I will cautiously try and increase the frequency of my trainings as well.

1 comment:

  1. Hoi Milko, lekker bezig, zeg ! is er toch niet ergens een doel in het vooruitzicht ?