Here’s the Plan: There Is No Plan

there is no planIt’s January 1, which means that I am now officially training for the 10-mile swim. But it’s January 1, which means that the pool is closed, so I am now officially training for the 10-mile swim by sitting in my house in front of the computer drinking coffee and eating Trader Joe’s Triple Ginger Snaps.

The last week or so I’ve been thinking about my training plan. I read around about preparing for a long swim (see especially the LoneSwimmer post on Progressive Overload Training), and I printed out a calendar of the year up to July 26, the date of the swim, and sat down to fill in a schedule.

And then I stopped. I don’t know what I’m doing tomorrow. How am I going to plan for March or May?

So here’s the no-plan plan: swim five days a week, with one long swim each week, increasing the length of the long swim by one mile a month.

End of . . . Longest swim (minimum)
January 4 miles
February 5 miles
March 6 miles
April 7 miles
May 8 miles
June 9 miles

A long swim and four shorter swims a week: that’s it. When the weather gets warm enough, I take the no-plan plan to Lake Hartwell and swim as much as I can outside. There is a one-mile loop–really just a half-mile down the shore and back–and I can do repeats of that loop. In the meantime, I start figuring out how to shoehorn these swims into the weekend pool hours.

Penny Lee Dean sets out a training schedule for a 10-mile swim much like this one, though more detailed, in her book, Open Water Swimming; I can’t commit to detail, but I was reassured to see that her plan was similarly structured.

I will also swim some races in May and June. At minimum, I want to do the 5-mile distance of the Lowcountry Splash in Charleston on May 24. I’ve done the 2.4-mile distance twice now, and it’s a beautiful swim and a well-run event; you swim with the current down the river and under the Ravenel Bridge. I took the photo at the top of this blog during the swim in 2012. I’m thinking about two other events as well. The Death Valley Open Water Swim at Lake Hartwell is usually held in June; I’ll sign up for the longest distance, probably a 5K, if I can make the date. There’s a 2.4 mile in Chattanooga on May 17 which would make a nice first swim, but it’s an overnight stay in Tennessee right before the Lowcountry Splash. I’m keeping my eyes open for other swims.

The other preparation I’d like to do is swim across Lake Jocassee, a cold clear lake near me. My friend T has a kayak or canoe or something boatish, and he suggested it. He could hand me food, and I could practice eating while treading water in a lake. It will be silly, but it will be a lot less silly than practicing eating while treading water in an old diving well that’s been converted into a therapy pool, surrounded by people aqua-jogging, which is my other option.

Now all I have to do is wait for the pool to open tomorrow so I can get started.

2 thoughts on “Here’s the Plan: There Is No Plan

  1. At the beginning of last year I began to train in earnest for a solo Channel swim. My first target was a six hour qualifier swim (around 17/18 km) in open water with a temperature of 15C or less. Between January and the end of April I swam short distances in cold water of zero to 13C (at Tooting Bec Lido in south London, UK) and longer distances indoors in a 50m heated pool. The longest I swam was for two hours. The most kms I accumulated in one week was 25km; most weeks I did 15km. At the end of my successful six hour swim in April 2013, I had two thoughts, “That was easier than I thought it was going to be”, and “I’m not sure I want to keep doing this”. The uncertainty and a developing shoulder problem resulted in me cancelling my Channel slot about a month later. But that’s beside the point. People train in a host of different ways – glean info and advice from others, but listen to your body and mind foremost. Good luck with the training and eventual swim.

    1. Thank you for the description of your training! It’s very helpful to hear how it worked for you. I have the advantage of not needing to worry about the temperature for this swim.

      I would love to swim at Tooting Bec Lido. Last summer I was in the UK for work, and I did as much swimming as I could–lake, ocean, and pool. I went to Parliament Hill Lido; it was 17C in June, and I was cold.

      Thanks again for your advice!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s