Goggles and Shoulders Start To Hurt

Hi guys, it's been a while since I last posted.

I've been picking up my swimming and have got my first competitive 10KM followed by a 17KM swim booked for next year (both lake swims). Competitively my only lakes swims have been 1 mile events so these are quite a jump. I've been swimming 4 to 5 times a week ranging around 2 to 2.5km per session. I' not tired after my swims so I know I've either got to stop being lazy (pick the pace up) or extend my sets to 3.5 to 4km. My fastest mile is now 27 minutes on the dot (previously its been well over 30 minutes) and my 2.5km standard cruising time is 45minutes. Anyway I thought I was progressing nicely until last Saturday.

I decided to just swim a solid pool 10KM and see where my base level is. This was only the second time I've done this. My previous 10km saw my stomach churning from the gels so, after getting advice from this forum, I switched to simply carb powders. That advice worked a treat - feeding every 2.5km. Thank you all. But from 2.5km onwards my goggles were agony: I don't have the straps on too strong and they've never hurt much in the past but then again I've not done many long sets. I battled through to 5km where I took on some water and removed my goggles briefly. The remaining 5KM were more tolerable but not great. I'm think my Aquaspheres are designed for pool swimming and not long distance. **So does anyone have any goggles designed for longer swims that don’t dig into the eye sockets so much? **

Then to top it off my final 2.5km was marred by really stiff shoulders. They still ache two days later. Now when I finished I wasn’t out of breath. So can I assume I'm not kicking enough and that’s where my focus needs to be in order to increase my overall swim pace and reduce the burden on my shoulders?

Thanks all


  • Kate_AlexanderKate_Alexander Spring Lake, MichiganMember

    The Aqua Sphere Seal goggles are the only ones that work for me. Yes, they are large and may not look cool but they sure are comfortable. And the large lenses make sighting a lot easier. I've tried so many smaller goggles, but they all dig into my eyes and give me a blistering headache. Cool or not, Aqua Sphere are definitely the most comfortable.

  • LouisMLouisM Dublin, IrelandNew Member

    Which Aqua Sphere goggles do you use? I've used the Aqua Sphere "Vista" goggles and found them to be very comfortable. I also swim with Zoggs Predator Flex which I like. It's probably a matter of trying a few and finding ones that suit you

  • One thing I've found is that sometimes goggles comfort levels change over time due to the different facial nerves that are around the eyes and bridge of the nose. So, while you say the strap isn't too tight, it might could go a bit looser from the get go to avoid the nerve compression (I sometimes feel my forehead go a bit numb). Also, if you shift your goggles just a "skosh" you might find a more nerve-friendly spot that they can sit on.

  • Thanks both for your comments RE the goggles issue. LouisM - I like the look of the Vistas so ive ordered a pair! :) Thanks again

  • I use a different set of goggles for practice vs. racing and in pool vs. open water. Trust me my husband loves that I have 20 pairs of goggles hanging about. I have found the TYR Special OPS 2.0 to be my favorite for anything over 2 miles. They are super comfy, and polarized so they help with sighting. But even in a pool set I switch to a soft wide gasket type goggle for anything over an hour and a half.

    Not sure if this makes a difference but I know that I would be sore if I was averaging 2.5k workouts and then did a 10k swim. I find I hurt myself less and ache less when I up my base over time over the weeks workouts.

    What 17K swim are you doing? I like the sound of that distance.

  • JaimieJaimie NYCCharter Member

    @Sam another thing to think about is that 10k in the pool is a lot different than 10k in an open water swim. You are not pushing off so you can have your goggles a lot looser which might make them more comfortable for longer durations. Like @Camille I also use the TYR Special Ops but I used to use the Aquasphere Kaiman - you should use whatever fits your face best (stays on your eyes for a few seconds when you press them on without using the strap) I'm not sure about the shoulder thing but most open water swimmers don't kick much so not sure that's the solution. Might be good to have a coach look at your stroke to see if there is anything that might be causing issues before you ramp up training/distance. (I think this is always a good idea before taking on new challenges anyway, to best avoid injury!) Good luck!

  • wendyv34wendyv34 Vashon, WASenior Member

    Due to the shape of my face, very few goggles fit me, so I have to resort to other strategies to stay comfortable over time. Sometimes I take my goggles off when I stop to feed. I've swam for 10 minutes or so without them when they were really bothering me. Keeping the straps loose helps, but in rough conditions, they can get smacked right off your head.

    As far as stiff shoulders, any time you're pushing your maximum distance, you can expect your shoulders to hurt. Assuming that your technique isn't causing the pain, it's a matter of getting your body used to the distance. You're going to want to swim further than 2.5K a couple of times a week. For a 10K, try pushing it to 4-5K twice a week focusing on technique, then use your shorter workouts for speed work. As you get closer, try to go long (6-8K) once every week or two. For your 17K swim, you might want to try getting up to 3.5 or 4 hours at least once. It's good to know how your body will react to longer swims ahead of your events. My hands tend to get numb at ~3 hours and at 5 hours my arms/shoulders are definitely hurting, but they don't seem to get any worse after that.

    I like to take a few backstrokes before or after a feed, (or during long pool sets), it helps keep my shoulders feeling happier. It's a bonus to have the capacity to add more propulsion with your kick, when you need it. I tend to rely on my kick more when conditions are rough, during the last hour or two of a long swim or when I need to go faster. To build that in training, you can add a kick or "sprint" set at the end of your workout. I hate kick sets, so my go-to last set is 4-6x150 as hard as I can go.

    It's always a bad hair day when you work at a pool.

  • BridgetBridget New York StateMember

    I'm coming up on my first full year of access to pool swimming in well over 10 years. I can manage a 10K in open water fairly easily in about 4 hours (nowhere near your pace!), but my pool laps are marked by VERY pokey turns-- which allows for slightly looser goggles and a chance to stretch out my shoulders. I recall many instances of sore shoulders after swims of just a few miles at a race years ago, but while I feel the tiredness, I've been able to avoid pain. My oddball turns, and aqua fitness classes help-- I am able to work my shoulders (and the rest of me) in a full range of motion to avoid repetitive motion pain or injury. So far, so good. If your 10K is noted for chop, train for a bit of breaststroke to account for greater than usual landmarking. I hadn't considered that, and a training swim with chop and boat traffic let me know I needed to work all muscles.

    Good luck! There are great comments here.

  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Member

    What @wendyv34 said regarding training. She's 100% right.

    For goggles, you'll probably have to play around with a few kinds. I use different ones for the pool vs the open water.

  • Wow – I come back to see if I managed a couple of responses to find lots and lots of responses – all of which clearly took some time to write. It really is appreciated.

    On the goggles: the consensus is clearly to play around with different types to see what suits. I’ve ordered one pair that was suggested above so I’ll start my trial and error there!

    Shoulder issue: loads of awesome advice here! I do attend a local triathlon swim session every now and then. They have analysed my stroke (although I know from reading these forums that a full Swim Smooth analysis would be far better) and said I don’t kick enough and occasionally my hands cross. I’ve discounted the lack of kicking comment on the basis im trying long distance swims and not racing a 1.5km leg but I do concentrate on ensuring good water entry for my arms. From the above great advice I think upping my 4/5 weekly sessions to 4km sets is a smart way to go. My issue has always been that I can get lazy on doing detailed sets. I more often than not just do a block 2.5km or to vary my week I’ll try sprint a 1.6km and go for a PB time.** I assume there in lies another problem and that doing sets will see better improvements?

    Also I do like the little tips about backstroking after feeds and also throwing in some breastroke to keep shoulders fresh.

  • @Camille its the Windermere One Way. Technically is 10.5 miles which is slightly shorter than 17km but given my poor sighting skills im fairly sure i'll make it a 17km (if not more!)

  • @Sam that looks like an amazing swim. The location alone is worth the trip!

  • KatieBunKatieBun CornwallSenior Member
    edited November 2017

    Good for you, @Sam. Training sets don't have to be complicated rocket science. You can do a simple warm up like 400/300/200/100 and blocks of 10 x 200s or 20 x 100s. Simple pyramid sets work, too. Repeating the same interval set every few weeks will show your progress. Just make sure you work hard enough so that you have to crawl out of the pool at the end and you can fry an egg on your face. Give yourself a long swim session each week, too, as suggested above. There is awesome advice on here already. I'd just like to add my best wishes for your training. Keep us in the loop and huge good luck with Windermere. It's an awesome swim in one of the most breathtaking lakes. Windermere is one that I love and will do again if I can rekindle my liking for fresh water. :)

  • curlycurly Issaquah, WAMember

    Look up Average Set Thread, Lunchtime Set Thread or Animal Set Thread for great ideas of sets you can do.

    (I hope these links work, I haven't done this feature before.) If not, just do a search for those sets.

  • SydneDSydneD Senior Member

    When I started swimming longer distances, I was getting these weird bumps on my eyelids. My husband thought it was hilarious to say "Look! Honey, you're turning into a Klingon!"
    I didn't find that quite so amusing so went the doctor and they said it was basically from my tight goggles worn for hours and hours and hours.

    I switched to an open water goggle then, for both pool and outdoors, and it made all the difference. I rarely, if over, have pain from them.

    I'm a big fan of Aquasphere. I like the Vista these days as it appears they have discontinued the Seal XP. (It's a bummer because those fit my face really well.)

    My face is kind of small so I had been going with tight goggles because otherwise they would leak. Now, I rarely have leakage problems, and even better, while I might look like a loser while swimming, I don't walk around with goggle face all day!

  • SydneDSydneD Senior Member

    One more thing -
    I don't see a picture of you so I don't know if this might be part of it, but I also coach and one thing I've found is that goggles are made for a very specific type of nose bridge. My son is Korean-American and we have to search and search for goggles that work for his face. When he started swimming, he would make them super tight, and then we realized why. Once we found goggles that actually fit his face and cheeks, it made a tremendous difference.

    This is often true for my ethnically Asian or other clients of color. ( I've often said that I wanted to start a gear website called "Swimming! Not just for white folks!" It would have a range of goggles that I know fit my clients well, and in addition, what a concept, swim caps for people with dreadlocks or weaves so that their hair can stay dry and they don't have to worry about it!)

  • Thanks everyone. @KatieBun im really looking forward to that swim (despite being well outside my comfort zone). Don't suppose you have any handy tips for the swim itself or feeding tips for novices (currently im just drinking carb water solution every 2.5km but don't know if I need solid food).

    @curly thanks for those - I have seen them before but unless its super simple im unlikely to stick to them. When I swim I struggle to count laps let alone remember resting times and critical swim speeds and SWOLF scores etc...

    @SydneD yes as a result of this thread I too now own some Vistas. They are definitely more comfortable. They do leak ever so slightly so im hoping I just need to tinker with the straps to get everything working perfectly.

  • KatieBunKatieBun CornwallSenior Member
    edited December 2017

    @Sam, feeding is such a personal thing. Only you can find out whether or not you need solid food. I don't. I just drink UCan and supplement it with tea or water. It's faster to get down and easier to digest than solid food. You may find you like a treat now and then or even that solid food suits you better. Keep experimenting. My double Windermere was my first marathon. I tried jelly babies on my third feed and found I just couldn't eat them. I was chewing them for so long, I gave up and spat them out.

    Here's a lovely RYA page with lots of info about the lake, including the map. http://www.rya.org.uk/newsevents/e-newsletters/up-to-speed/Pages/secret-water-windermere.aspx If you want landmarks to look out for, there are plenty of piccies. You can either keep your head down and just swim it or take a peek occasionally, to make the most of it. Who are you doing it with? BLDSA, Chillswim, SwimYourSwim or private boat hire?

  • Thanks @KatieBun

    I think its experimentation but I just can’t help but think water/carb solution isn’t enough to power me home. Taking my 10KM pace my predicted finish time for the 17KM is 5 hours and 40 minutes. I actually suspect I’ll be closer to 6 hours. That’s a lot of time to go without decent nutrition. Hell I need to eat every hour just sitting on an office chair.

  • wendyv34wendyv34 Vashon, WASenior Member

    Try a Clif Shot (or similar gooey stuff) every hour, along with your carb drink. I like the lemon/lime with caffeine flavor. Clif Shot blocks are also nice because they sit in your stomach a bit longer, they're soft and chew pretty quickly. I use them before training. My go-to liquid fuel is Gatorade with 2 scoops of Carbo-pro per 24 oz bottle. I'm also a person who has to eat regularly to avoid getting hangry, but this formula has worked fine for me past 7 hours. The main thing is not to let your blood sugar get too low, it's hard to come back from a bonk.

    It's always a bad hair day when you work at a pool.

  • MoCoMoCo Worcester, MAMember

    I used picky bars for Swim the Suck - I can drink 10-12 oz of fluid and eat a picky bar in about 90 seconds if I'm not busy whining to my kayaker. My stomach doesn't really like calories in liquid form, so I played with solids the latter part of the summer.

  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Member

    I use 4 scoops of Carbo Pro for 24 ounce bottles, and a smidge of whey protein. I feed every 30 minutes, 8 ounces at a feed. I've found I don't really need solids at all (don't even miss them) until I hit about 30 hours. My sister did a 10k with a very similar structure and she was fine as well. Her 10k took us just under 5 hours. She made the mistake of not adding some electrolytes in. About 3/4 of the way she said she wasn't feeling well, so I plopped a Nuun tab in and within 30 minutes or so she was feeling much better. She mixed her feeds with green tea; I use apple juice. She wasn't in love with green tea after a few hours, so for her next one she's going to experiment.

    The key is to experiment. Do a few long practice swims. Feed every 30 minutes in the pool. See what feels good and what doesn't. Are you hungry? Thirsty? If you're hungry, what are you craving most? Do you feel dehydrated when you're done? It took a lot of long swims for me to dial in my feed structure, so it's always a learning experience. Salt water and fresh water do make a difference, too. Hot water and cold water swims also make a difference. It just takes practice!

  • MoCoMoCo Worcester, MAMember

    also, what worked really well for me was logging EXACTLY what I ate/drank (and when) in my training log, along with any, um, resulting symptoms (my stomach is a disaster on a normal day). That helped me find trends and figure out what was/was not working.

  • Wow, what awesome advice here! Thanks @Sam for posting the questions :)

    I have two small things to add that were total game changers for me regarding nutrition and shoulders.

    Re Shoulders: I found out that when I rotated, especially when breathing, I was pulling completely with my shoulder instead of using my core. I started doing some serious core strength training and concentrated on rotating from my center and blamo, no shoulder pain.

    Re Nutrition: I am not someone who promotes overly commercialized products, but Infinite Nutrition changed my life (in Triathlon world, but most definitely in marathon swimming). It's liquid feeds and they specially formulate to you (age, height, weight, sweat rate, event, everything). Everything that went wrong in my swims completely went away (hunger, cramps, upset stomach, dehydration, everything!) I felt like a new swimmer :)

    Hope that helps! Have a fabulous swim! Have fun! :)

  • IronMikeIronMike BostonCharter Member

    I can't find if you've already mentioned this, but will your 17k be kayak-escorted? Try eating what you're used to.

    For 20 Bridges (despite DQ'ing) I had a great feed plan. I'm on a LCHF (lightly keto-adapted) diet so my feeds, when I did eat, were pieces of pepperoni and small (1.15oz) packs of PB (Justin's Nut Butter, specifically). I'm used to that, so I kept to it. The feeds took a while, but I'm not ever in it to win it. I'm not used to liquid-carb intake (well, not the kind that is race-legal) so I don't do feeds like the vast majority of the swimmers here do.

    Good luck!

    Please join the Lake Issyk Kul Swimming Federation on FB!

  • KarenTKarenT Charter Member

    I'm still trying to get over @KatieBun spitting out jelly babies! Sacrilege.

  • curlycurly Issaquah, WAMember

    wendyv34 said:
    Try a Clif Shot (or similar gooey stuff) every hour,..... I'm also a person who has to eat regularly to avoid getting hangry, ....

    I used Clif Shots for my second 10K. They are pretty handy because you can stuff a couple in your suit. I used one at the start then had one at the 1/3 mark and one at the 2/3 mark. Chocolate to start, raspberry in the middle and Chocolate for dessert. It worked pretty well.

    I like that word hangry. I tend to be able to go without eating for a long time. My wife, on the other hand lives between meals and if she doesn't have food she definitely gets hangry. I think it has something to do with blood sugar levels. It's a tough combination for us because I've gone three days without eating and she would freak out if she went 4 hours. I can drive her crazy sometimes...

  • KatieBunKatieBun CornwallSenior Member

    KarenT said:
    I'm still trying to get over @KatieBun spitting out jelly babies! Sacrilege.

    So sorry, @KarenT. I'll try not to do it again.


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