Ned, Leslie, and Fil’s Top Ten Training Tips -- 6 Mile Course
A good number of you are taking on 6 miles in the open water for the very first time in your lives. Exciting for you. But exciting for us as well. WE LOVE THE STRETCH. And we want you to be totally prepared so that you can get the most out of your swim. (It also minimizes the chance that we will have to haul you out of the water with cramps or worse.)
This 6 mile distance is very different from 3 miles or less. Your nutrition and hydration needs become much more important to meet and stay ahead of. Disorientation in the open water becomes a bigger issue with longer distances. We are also doing the swim two weeks earlier than last year. The water will be a bit cooler. Nutrition, hydration, and stroke speed are important factors in staying warm.
Here’s some general training advice from Ned Denison and Leslie Thomas. I’ve also added a few of my own comments here and there from observations and discussions with swimmers during the past two years. If you have specific questions, feel free to send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll try to get you an answer. Hope this helps.
1. Plan now to do a 4 or 5 mile open water swim early in the summer. Do it safely with a support boat etc. It doesn’t have to be an event. It can be just you and your trusty Yacker. But you should have a GPS and a watch. Find races and events that work into your training plan. The January USMS one-hour swim is a great way to check your pacing and endurance training progress. Remember Son of a Swim on June 18th is there if you need it. (2, 4, and 6 mile distances for a limited number of swimmers.)
2. Start now to find a carbo drink that you can stomach. Over 6 miles you will need to drink about one litre of liquid before the swim and about 2 litres during the swim. These volumes can double or half depending on the swimmer and the day. This can simply be something like gatorade...or a carbo powder that you mix with water. We had a swimmer do a 12.5 mile channel, drinking orange juice and eating mashed potatoes out of a plastic cup - SO it is really only important that you get the liquid and same carbs. By March - EVERY swimming workout you do should include drinking at least 500ml of the stuff afterwards or during the workout. Hammer is a sponsor of Kingdom Swim. We hope you’ll try some of their product to see if it works for you. But, if you are an orange juice and mashed potatoes type, don’t change just for us.
It's really important to get in quality calories that taste good and are easy to digest. You have four options for calories: drinks, gels, beans, bars. It's really important to be happy with your food. Eating food that you like makes you keep going from feeding to feeding. It will make it mentally and physically possible to keep swimming longer and longer. If you don't like the taste of your fuel and/or it upsets your stomach, you'll stop eating, and that would be really, really bad! Other things people seem to enjoy as fuel on swims: bananas, oatmeal, flat 7Up. It's amazing the things you'll come up with to try. Only thing – avoid drinks with caffeine during the swim. Once you’ve found something that works on longer distances, stick with it.
3. Figure out how often you need to eat and drink to stay ahead of your fuel and hydration needs. People seem to “feed” at a wide range of intervals, from one hour to every 15 minutes. You can start with every 30 minutes and see how that feels. If you start to feel low or go through a struggling phase, feed every 20 minutes and then alter that according to how you are feeling. If you wait until you’re hungry or thirsty to eat, it’s too late!! You have to eat and drink before you actually want it. (It’s why we instruct Yackers to be strict with the schedule once it’s set. Many of you will not want to stop to feed during the swim. But Time Rules All. Just ask Albert. It doesn’t fool around and will grab you if you don’t respect it.) Also consider how high your metabolism is. If it's high, you'll definitely need to refuel often. If your metabolism is lower you'll get away with eating less. If you struggle to stay warm in cooler water, you'll also want to feed more often, or take in more calories at each feed. The most important part of this exercise is to come up with a schedule for longer distances and then stick with it, adjusting it only as you discover exactly what your individual needs are over time.
4. Learn to tread water and eat and drink in deep water (you can master this in the deep end of the pool). Do a few marathon pool swims to allow you to begin figure out your ideal feeding intervals sooner rather than later. You can then translate that into your 4 or 5 mile training swim in early summer.
5. Work up steadily your weekly swimming yardage:
Minimum 8,000 yards per week by March
Minimum 10,000 yards per week by May
These are MINIMUMS....do more. If you are below these numbers - seriously reconsider
6. Do longer pool sessions over the winter. Two hour sessions are much better than 45 minute sessions
7. Plan out your weekly yardage goals and follow your training progress. Use the all new NEKOWSA Training calendar to record your targets and your ACTUAL progress. It’s simple. But it doesn’t lie. You can’t fool a daily pencil recording your distance on each day you swim. There are no fudge factors with simple addition.
8. Take a minimum of 1 day/week rest day. This could be as much as a full week every few weeks depending on age and condition. The key is to stay fresh mentally and not get injured. But don’t get lazy, either. The little gnomes are everywhere with their nasty voices of REST and QUIT or THAT’S ENOUGH FOR ONE DAY. Shout them down if you have to. Yep, right there in the pool. You’ve got a plan. You know your rest days. Keep it moving forward.
9. Interval training is important to building / maintaining speed and for being able to maintain a steady pace over long distances.
10. Train your brain. You should think about the upcoming swim every day now. Every time you are in the pool – imagine the start, imagine rounding the buoys, and imagine how it will feel walking (running) out to the beach. (We now have a new course map on the web site which shows the 6 mile course. For those of you who have not been part of our swim, the Calendar photos should help you visualize the start, the initial turn, heading north, the return, and the “race” out of the water. Each of these photos was carefully selected to help you visualize a part of the swim and the Kingdom Swim experience.) Especially if you are new to this distance, this is one of your bigger plans for the year. Make it an important part in your life.