Swimmer’s block

I hadn’t swum in over week, which is a little bit of a record for me, because I always swim at least, at a minimum – once a week. Today, after doing a 2km swim this morning, I remembered why I had taken a break from swimming….shoulder pain.

In just a few weeks, I will be swimming around Turkey – a 30-35km swim over 6 days. On average swimming 5-6km a day. I should be training more, me thinks. But with all the swimming I had been doing over the summer, my upper shoulders and upper back/neck are getting sore. Subconsciously I had stopped swimming for about 10 days to give my shoulders a break. I’ve also taken up jogging as well, which meant that I had swapped the pool for the treadmill. I am actually getting into the jogging a bit now … even bought myself new jogging shoes! I’m in need of swimming motivation considering I had slacked off a bit. I’m also getting worried about the swimtrek. I feel underprepared to swim that much, day in, day out. The thought of sore shoulders and back is a little unnerving. Swimming laps in a pool also gets a little boring.

Last night I came across an awesome blog of a gal who a few months back did a swimtrek. Hers wasn’t so much a holiday as it was a swim bootcamp. She had signed up for the Gozo (Malta swimtrek) – this swimtrek is a swim camp used mainly by those who want to swim the English Channel. It’s a full-on long distance ows swim camp, working up to a 6-hour swim. (My limit is 2-hours). It’s a really interesting read of the training and mental endurance of open water swimming training in cold water (15 degrees). I highly recommend reading her three entries on her swimtrek. Start reading from here. And work your way to post 3 of her Malta swimtrek. Her last post is the most inspiring and motivating. Her blog gets brownie points because she makes reference to Haruki Murakami. It was a re-quote from someone else, but I’m pretty sure that Murakami said that in this book, “What I talk about when I talk about running”. (Murakami is a prolific marathoner). One of the quotes that always stuck out in that book for me was: “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional”. (I think it was also a re-quote from someone else as well). But after reading that book – that quote always stuck in my mind. I think I should re-read that book. Good motivation for mental endurance and perserverance, especially since I’m also hoping to get accepted into the Tokyo Marathon. It was a good insight into what I can expect…although not as full on as that. It will be a similar routine. Up early, breakfast and then hitting the water everyday, swim for a couple of hours, lunch, swim a few more km’s, dinner, a couple of sessions on technique and swim analysis, and then sleep. Thankfully, it’s also a holiday, and not a race, and not a swim bootcamp, so hopefully it will be a little more leisurely.

After reading that last night, I thought it was time for me to HTFU. So even though I desperately wanted to sleep in longer this morning, I changed into my cossies, got onto the train, jumped into the pool and swam 2km. The first 1km was easy enough. Felt good to be back in the water especially having not swum for a while. Between 1-1.5km my shoulders started to get sore. My lower neck, upper back and shoulders are getting really tight and sore though. It doesn’t help that I sit in front of a computer all day at work either. I think I’m gonna need some deep tissue massaging. In my last ows race (the 4.5km one) I remember my arms being incredibly sore, especially around the 3km mark. To the point where I could barely get the, out of the water and they were just pretty much skimming the top of the water, floundering. Should I be pumping iron? Do I have weak arms? I think sore shoulders and arms is normal? The recommended swimming training program provided by Swimtrek seems pretty relaxed to me. Maybe, I am swimming too much. When you also eat as much as I do, there’s no such thing as “swimming too much”. I went back over the swimming training program – which spans 3 months in the lead up to the actual swim.

I leave in 3 weeks, and I feel as though I haven’t done enough training, despite being on track with the program. I barely swim 5km a week, let alone 5km a day for a whole week! They recommend a certain distance per week = target km. I have then recorded my actual distance swum for that week.

Month 1/July

Week 1: Target: 1km Actual: 10km (includes 3km OWS race, plus additional training km’s)

Week 2: Target: 1.5km Actual: 10.6 km (This was the week I competed in the 4.5km ows race, plus additional training km’s)

Week 3: Target: 2km Actual: 1.5km (this was my recovery week after two back to back weekends of ows races)

Week 4: Target: 2km Actual: 1km

Week 5: No target. Actual: 1.7km

Month 2/August

Week 1: Target: 2.5km Actual: 4.1km

Week 2: Target: 3km Actual: 5km

Week 3: Target: 3.5km Actual: 3km (did more cross training instead of swimming – 3 jogging sessions)

Week 4: Target: 4km Actual: 3.5km (lazy week. No jogging either)

Month 1/September

Week 1: Target: 4km Actual: 1km swim (but 3 jogging sessions)

Week 2: in progress Target: 5km Actual (so far): 2km ….but the week ain’t over yet.

Here’s what I need to cover over the next 2-3 weeks…

Week 3: Target: 5km

Week 4: Target: 3km Moral of the story. No pain. No gain. And must find good masseur.  I also need to fit in another open water swim session (instead of laps in a chlorine box), so I signed up for another race (my last one for the summer) which is in a week and a half away, and I’ve not done much training for it. It’s a 3.84km open water swim race. If you’re thinking 3.84km is a weird distance, it’s because I will be swimming the length of a bay somewhere in Chiba prefecture, and apparently that’s how long the bay is.