Pain is temporary but quitting lasts forever
On Saturday 23 November 2013 I finished my first 10 Km open water race.
I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who has contributed a wealth of relevant knowledge to this site. Without your advice and Marathon swimmers forum I would never have contemplated going from a happy one mile event swimmer to the five kilometer and now the ten kilometer events. I have been inspired by your patience, generosity and commitment to our sport. To those who have answered some of my question directly or indirectly just by sharing your experience here on marathon swimmers forum a big thank you.
I have previously done quite a few three & five kilometer races but this was the inevitable big step up for me.
As some of you have said before the bug has truly bitten.
During my swim which went well I thought at times about so many of you who have shared your stories of swimming the Catalina channel or the English channel and other amazing long swims. In a strange way I thought to myself if you could get through those daunting distances then I have no excuses and simply have to persevere and finish what I have started, much shorter I know but still a personal challenge. The fact that an Olympian I greatly respect lapped me near the half way mark strangely revived my energy levels because his pace was machine like and so consistent. I could never dream of keeping up with him but the thought was enough to make me pick up my own pace for a while. (He finished in an inspiring 2:05:19)
There were about twenty 10 km entries but only eight finished the full distance.
I was one of them. I believe the rest of the entries quit at the five km mark.
I read the following somewhere on Marathon swimmers forum and made it my motto for the day and I suppose all time. "Pain is temporary but quitting lasts forever". With that in mind I just swam and swam. It took me nearly four hours which was a lot longer than my planned three hour twenty which I based on my previous times. The personal satisfaction of seeing it through and now knowing psychologically that I can get there is an amazing feeling I cherish.
With hind sight I think my race strategy was wrong and feeding was also problematic. I had a bottle of drink after each lap. About 500ml. The drink was isisomaltulose based with a few other things like vit C, sodium & Potassium. I had two sachets (used one) of GU energy gel but the maltodextrin does not agree with me and gave me a sore stomach for a while! Towards the last lap I really felt like my energy levels were depleated.
The race comprised four laps of 2.5 km each.
I swam well for the first five km but then slowed on the third lap due to a strange pain in my upper thighs. Thats something I have not had before. It wasn't cramp just a tired sore feeling deep in my upper thigh muscle. Any ideas on this as it was the major cause of me slowing down? The final lap was made harder because a strong wind came up and made conditions choppy to say the least. I set out to finish the event and thats what I achieved.
I realise that I have a lot of hard work to do to get myself to the next level of overall fitness and also to increase my training distances without causing myself to crash! In the past this has been a problem for me. When I increase my weekly distance I end up exhausted after a couple of months!
Any advice on this dilemma would be appreciated.
Thank you once again to everyone on Marathon swimmers forum your advice and inspiration have been invaluable to me.
Way to go David! You will find every swim is a learning experience. Seems a different issue comes up with every event I enter. Feeds are definitely tricky. Still working on that myself. I will leave it to the more experienced swimmers to offer you training advice and answer your questions. Remember, these longer swims are just as much mental as they are physical. Your motto helped get you through this first 10k. Sounds like it will not be your last, nor your longest. All the best...
Great to read this, David. I love hearing people's stories of setting goals and reaching beyond!
As for feeding, a discussion here may be a good start:
It's certainly an individual journey to find what works for each of us, so trial and error is the natural course.
Personally I've found the low carb, high fat diet to be what works best for my system (for overall health), and following that, the use of UCAN "superstarch" has worked well for my feeds: no sugar/insulin spikes, hence no crashing; no GI distress, thus no puking
and less need to feed as often or as much by conditioning the body to predominantly utilize our relatively limitless fat stores for energy.
Not sure about your upper thigh issue...?
A couple thoughts:
1. When I've had unusual muscle pains come up on longer swims, I've subsequently concentrated more on the area(s) during my stretching routine. That's worked every time for me.
2. Even though you felt it wasn't cramping, I still think it could've been due to low/imbalanced electrolytes. A doctor friend and marathon swimmer told me that it's more important to remain "topped off" during your training, like hydration. If you go into an event not having prepared, you're starting off depleted and you can't catch up by trying to replenish during. And that's certainly even more so with warmer water/weather.
As for training exhaustion:
Days off always work for me.
I'm currently working on a long term schedule that builds up to increasingly longer training swims. So, each cycle builds up to a culminating "event" (long swim), including small tapers for each.
My thinking is this allows for some rest within each cycle, thus preparing me for each long swim, continually increasing, and simulating the final prep for the ultimate long swim. Then, it will simply be a continuation of my training and just another long swim day, physically and mentally.
There are some other nuances to this, so I'd be glad to discuss further via pm/email/phone...
Dan, you mentioned building up through cycles. How long are your cycles? 4 weeks at a time or so? I'm trying to figure out how to build up to a 12.5 miler for next June using training ideas learned in ultra-running.
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