Swim the Suck - Seeking Advice - Long Training Swims

DavidZakDavidZak Tiffin, OhioMember
edited September 2018 in Beginner Questions

OK, fellow swimmers. Really would like some training advice. I've searched the MSF forums and read over the past year many of the training threads (including some of the standards and oldies but goodies that are recommended), but I still don't feel comfortable yet with what I am going to do tomorrow and next Saturday for my long training swims.

Situation: Swim the Suck on October 13 (10 mi).
Question: How long (time and/or distance) and how fast do I swim the next two weekends (race pace, slower than race pace, faster than race pace if shorter distance)? (Saturdays for me are long swim training day). My original plan was 7 mi this weekend, 10 the next (so I will have "done" it already, something I mentally really like) and taper down. The general question is rule of thumb about long training swims in general as distances go up - at what point do you recommend splitting swims over two days (if at all), how many long swims a month, how do you structure the pre-taper, peak, and taper period. Some answers to the general question I've found, but I am most interested in the help I seek for the race coming up.

Context: The Suck is my longest swim to date. Did Lido Key in April (7 mi), Swim to the Moon last month (6.2 mi). My usual approach is to have my longest training swim equal or surpass the distance four weeks before and taper down. My race pace is about 1:52/100 with feeds included.

I average about 18K yards a week (over last 12 months). 60K over last 4 weeks (with Moon and recovery time). Did 4K of fast (for me) 250s last Friday and then had some shoulder muscle pain at about 5K of a planned much longer swim on Saturday. Stopped to prevent chance injury. Day of rest and no issues swimming rest of this week.

I AM WORRIED ABOUT INJURY AND OVERDOING IT. But I just feel unsure as I get to the longer and longer distances on what the right approach is. Don't want to overdo it, but I don't want to not put in the training.

Thanks in advance for an answer or reference to a thread I've missed!



  • MoCoMoCo Worcester, MAMember

    I did Swim the Suck last year in a back-of-the-pack-ish 4:50. Here's my weekends:

    9/9-10: Saturday easy run (recovery day), Sunday 2:30 open water swim
    9/16-17: Saturday did a relay at a sprint tri, so 25 min warmup, 450 yards at puke pace, then a 1:15 cooldown swim with lots of rest in there. Sunday 3 hour OWS
    9/23-24: Saturday 4 hour OWS, Sunday rest day (bailed on 4400 yard pool swim because life was nuts)
    9/30-31: 6000 yard pool swim Saturday, 10600 yard pool swim Sunday (weather)
    10/7-10/8: 8000 yard pool swim Saturday, cut a planned 6600 yard swim short (to 2400 yards) on Sunday due to a chronic shoulder problem flaring up.

    hope this helps. I think I averaged 23000 yards/week about for the summer. Biggest 7 day period was maybe 40000 yards. I could have swum far longer than I did - I was only wrecked because I started my "last 30 minutes" kick about an hour before the end of the race .

  • minamina Cambridge, MAMember

    Hey, @MoCo! Long time no see!

    If it were current unassisted, how long (distance-wise) did the Suck feel for you last year? I know it varies, but I'm wondering based on your time if training for a little less than 10 is still going to be right on.

    I've had a super lazy swim training year (I just feel like floating and listening to the water most days, and I'm not beating myself up over it) so am aiming for MVT (minimum viable training) and just aiming to be in a new body of water for as long as they'll let me. :)

  • The current varies from year to year. Mentally and time wise is is usually equivalent to 8 miles unassisted to me. There is usually a current push the first half of the swim and then the current usually slows way down. A lot depends on rainfall and how much water the upstream dam released that morning.

  • MoCoMoCo Worcester, MAMember

    for perspective, I swam the "10K" loop around Province Island in Memphre (Thursday of Swim the Kingdom week, GPS watch had it at 6.7 miles) in 4 hours last year. I swam WAY better at StS, and my stomach held out. So maybe 8 mile equivalent for me too.

    hi, @mina !

  • DavidZakDavidZak Tiffin, OhioMember

    Hi, all.

    I wanted to thank everyone so very much for their input; I love the community. I did a 4 hour swim yesterday at a 6 hour pace (a pace I thought I could sustain for six hours). It was slower than my 10K pace (1:56/7 per 100 versus 1:50/1:52 pace), but I ended strong and could have done another hour, maybe two. That felt like a good approach. I did 7.05 miles. I am going to try for a 5 hour swim next week as the last big swim and call it good for my training. That should be around 8.5 miles or so. I will feel pretty comfortable then, heading into taper.

    Again, thank you all.

  • flystormsflystorms Memphis, TNMember

    David, the longest swim I'm planning to do for StS is this weekend and it'll be appx 12k. Much like thinking in the running world, you get pretty close to what you'll be doing, but not necessarily go the whole distance. Momentum, excitement and a nice little current should help with that extra bit you'll need to get your mind to the finish. From what you've described, you should be good to go.

    That said, listen to your shoulder so you don't over-do it just before you race. I had an injury like that about 6 weeks before I did Key West a few years ago, took about a week off until it mostly healed, then was able to still do well as well as planned in the race. If you have to back off a little for a week/10 days, do it.

    See you there!

  • MoCoMoCo Worcester, MAMember

    I took nearly two weeks off right before my first swim over 10K (I fell walking back from my lake, and ended up with a rock stuck in my knee for 8 days). My first swim back post-injury was a week pre-event. I was fine.

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