Marathon runners love their training plans. Each time I’ve trained to run 26.2 miles (or 13.1, for that matter), I printed out training plans (Hal Higdon the first time, FIRST for the next one), and followed them as close to the letter as possible, with slight tweaks based on aches and pains and major life events.
I’m learning that training for the 4.4-mile Great Chesapeake Bay Bridge Swim is more like training for an ultra marathon—if you need a training plan to tell you what to do, you maybe shouldn’t be attempting the distance. And I really don’t think this is solely a function of me being a lazy swimmer who’s averse to formal swim workouts (which I am). Every time I ask an open-water swimming veteran for advice about how to train for such a race, the veteran’s advice usually starts with an equivocal shrug, then some general advice—never with a specific plan.
One thing I know for sure: I will not feel confident heading into the swim without a few good, long swims under my belt, and I’m slowly working my way up to those. Physically, I know I could probably knock out a cool 6,000 meters this weekend. Mentally and emotionally … well, I’ve managed 4,000 meters, and I’m working my way up from there.
Another thing I know for sure: It’s April 1, which for months has been my “go time” date. As in, “get off your cranky, lazy butt and go to the pool already, because it’s go time.” I’m forcing myself to get to the pool three times per week, and am making one of those swims longer. As in, longer than 3,000 meters, which is my bare minimum distance to make the trip to the pool and post-swim shower worth the trouble.
I’m also going to try to get in a few open-water swims when I’m visiting Florida next week, though I feel pretty comfortable with my ability to handle rough water (literally and figuratively).
Of course, my off-days aren’t “off” at all, but merely days when I’m working toward my other goals.
So here’s what a week of training looks like for me at this stage in the game:
Saturday: Run/walk: 37 minutes
Monday: PT in a.m. (check out my lineup here, and assume I’ve added weight to all strength exercises), swim 3,000 yards in p.m.
Tuesday: Run-walk between 30 and 40 minutes
Wednesday: PT in a.m., swim 3,500 yards in p.m.
Thursday: Lift (arms, core) 45 minutes, with three 15-minute StairMaster spurts
Friday: PT, swim 3,000 yards
Are you training for the Bay Bridge Swim, or have you trained for an open-water swim? How did you structure your training?