“It’s going” is my default response to the “how’s training going?” question. I’ve been kind of avoiding it because I’m not sure how to answer. I actually feel kind of silly because I’m not an open water swimming expert. I’m very aware that the list of things I don’t know is far longer than the list of things I do. And unlike running marathons, there aren’t established 12-, 16-. 20-, X-week training plans. I’m getting advice, but I’m also making it up. So how is the training going? It’s taken me a few months, but here’s how I’ve figured out how to answer. It starts with a conversation with myself along these lines:
At some point during this swim, it’s going to suck. Physically, mentally, or both. At some point, it’s just going to really get tough. When it does, what are you going to do?
Well, I know what I want to happen. I want to get tough and stay tough. I know I don’t want to quit. I don’t even want to want to quit.
But I also know just wanting it isn’t enough. My coaches would always say, “What you do in practice is what you’ll do in a race so practice it here!” So I do.
I practice building my mental endurance by not just getting uncomfortable, but staying uncomfortable. As soon as the scale tips slightly towards being more comfortable, I throw something else in that makes me react, “Ugh. I can’t do that.” And as much as I don’t want to do it, I make myself get it done. This week, the “something else” was adding in more spinning for additional cross-training.
I practice building my physical endurance by boosting my distance each month. In February, I was putting in 30-35 miles per week. My weekly goal for March is 35-40 miles.
I keep myself accountable, measure my progress, and plan incremental benchmarks. For example, I track my distance every day in a spreadsheet, I do a test set at the end of each month to see where my speed is at, and I set up training swims. Most immediately, I have my eyes set on a 24-hour training swim in the San Francisco Bay in May.
Finally, I lean on my teammates. Whether it’s my Master’s, Spenga, or Peloton fam, my actual family, or all of you, people working hard around me energizes me. It takes a village and your support means the world.
So how’s training? Some days I feel awesome and others are a real grind, but regardless of the day, I’m showing up and I’m still going. My workouts tell me I’m getting stronger mentally and the clock tells me I’m getting stronger physically. So yeah, it’s going and I’m not stopping.
I see you Lake Michigan and I’m coming for you.