I have written about this before the first time I did a long swim. They are becoming more regular as I am now training for the swim leg of Challenge Wanaka. I am trying to fit in one 4km swim a week, and today I decided to try a different mental approach.
The last time I wrote about it I talked about chunking down into 400m sections. I also found that I was hungry before the end. This time I had a carb snack and some gatorade before I started. (It worked a treat.) I also had my lap counter this time, but I had a preconceived idea of how this would go, based on my chunking down session. Thus, I had decided that I would hit a boring bit at 96 laps, and would flag before the end.
Here’s how it went this time. I set off with the lap counter on my finger, intending to not rely on it so to speak. I wear the watch on the same arm (unfortunately!) but without my glasses I can JUST about make out the time on the clock that is on the wall of the pool. When I set off my shoulders felt tired, and sore. Perhaps the tramping took more out of my arms than I thought yesterday. (I have to use poles, because of my knee, so my arms do quite a bit of work when I’m tramping too!) I knew, from past experience that this would subside, and it did. I glanced at the lap counter when the pain and fatigue started to ease. I was on lap 25. Mental note for the future, all will be well by around 625m.
I then checked to see how much of the clock I could make out. I could just see the rough position of the minute hand from my position in the lane without stopping, but the clock is on my right, that is my worse eye. That’s ok. I knew from the time on my phone that I had walked into the pool at roughly 7:40am. So I decided that when the clock read around 8:30am, I would check the lap counter. I knew that the full 3800m would take around 1hr 15 or so, so I didn’t need to know the lap number till then, because I definitely wouldn’t have finished in 50 minutes! Until then, I was focussed on finding a nice rhythm, which I did. Strike the right pace, and you should feel like you can go on for ever (so to speak!). I focussed on keeping the technique tidy, and reminding my legs to join the party – something I still have to think of, as an ex triathlete!
At 8:30am I checked the watch. I was coming up to lap 100. Excellent! 2/3 of the way there, and past the ‘dead zone’ so to speak! From there, I continued with 400m (16 lap) blocks, till I reached my target.
Although my shoulders were starting to tire, I found I still had plenty left for ‘fartlek’ sprints, which became necessary when I very slow swimmer decided to join me in the last 800m! I lapped her every three lengths, she soon got fed up and got out of the lane again! Not exactly how I intended to end the set, but reassuring nonetheless that I was able to do that still, after 100+ laps!
So, although there is merit in chunking a long session down into 400m chunks, there is also something to be said for thinking in larger time based slots, so you don’t get a fixed idea in your mind of how things will go, which can be self limiting!