The art of sucking (and mixing) it up

I’ve got about two months until the 1-mile Bay Bridge Challenge, an open-water swim in the Chesapeake Bay I signed up for back in January as a way to force myself to cross-train.

I did the swim last year, too, so I know I ought to be in the pool for a 3,000-yard workout about three days a week at this point. Non-swimmers: The 3,000-yard swim is kinda like a 30-minute run in that if you make it any shorter, it’s barely worth the effort.

Problem is, just when I need to start amping up my workouts, I’m just totally not feeling the whole swimming thing.

I mean, this is why I signed up for a race: to coerce myself into getting into the pool rather than pounding the pavement every day. Still, getting in the pool yesterday for my standard Wednesday workout was really, really rough. I actually had a sad little daydream that the pool would be closed, forcing me to go home and abandon my workout for the day. This, after driving across town to the pool, not to mention putting on my suit, cap and goggles.

Earlier in the week, I attempted to combat my swimming apathy by sucking it up and kicking my own butt with a hard set of 10 X 100 butterfly in the middle of the workout. Non-swimmers: Butterfly is like doing a tough hill workout, in that even when your heart isn’t in it, it’s hard to slack off. I left the pool with a good workout, but feeling very much like I’d been beaten with sticks.

So yesterday, I decided to try to trick myself into having a little bit of fun by mixing things up instead. I’m too cheap to sign up for a master’s team and too much of a stroke swimmer to do much in the way of freestyle intervals, so I typically do a semi-hard 1,650 or 2,000 “warm-up,” followed by 200 or 400 IMs, or 200s free, until I reach 3,000 yards. Here’s how I mixed it up:

Warm-up: 1X100 free, followed by 1X50 stroke, in IM order. In other words, swim 100 free, 50 fly, 100 free, 50 back, etc., etc. I intended to do two full IM cycles, but was having so much fun (honestly!), I stuck with it for three, totaling 1,800 yards. Something about breaking up the freestyle with quick bursts of stroke really made the yards fly by.

Monster set: 4X400 IM

Got any swim workouts that are rocking your world, or any thoughts that might motivate me? If so, for the love of God, post them below to save me from boring myself to death in the pool.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “The art of sucking (and mixing) it up

  1. A suggestion from my friend Brooke, who swam in college:
    “Here are some ideas from my college days: you can set a huge clock (you know, the kind you see with every breath) to twenty minutes and sprint for entire time, seeing how many laps you get done before you throw up. THEN, you can go to the old pool (you know, the freezing one they now use for canoeing classes) and strap a power rack band to your waist and sprint for as far as you can before the weights whiplash you back to the edge of the pool. How I miss those golden times.”

  2. Kaveh

    Question: What counts as cross-training? Would any exercise count? In particular, does weight training count? I always felt like my injury last year was caused by stopping my weight training a month or so before (though it wasn’t like I was consistent about it then either).

    • This is SUCH a great question, I’m going to devote a whole separate blog post to it. The FIRST plan is really specific about what counts and what doesn’t (weight training doesn’t, but they highly recommend doing it to prevent injury …. which you already know). It also offers some really great cross-training suggestions. Stay tuned …

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