How "hard" do you swim long OW distances?
Here’s my attempt at making a clear Swimming Intensity scale loosely based on an About.com article about running Perceived Exertion.
Level 1: floating with some sculling (all I can manage for the 1st 12+ yards after a killer set)
Level 2: swimming very easily, possibly spilling water (the 2nd 12+ yards after that killer set)
Level 3: good stroke, but not pushing it (easy warm up)
Level 4: good, strong stroke, increased stroke rate (late in warm up, or earlier if I just feel good)
Level 5: moderate pace, using more oxygen (solid effort, but still comfortable)
Level 6: want to breath every 2 strokes even if I don’t (might keep up this pace for a long time if I find a good rhythm and stay focused)
Level 7: must breath more, pushing hard (a fast pace for long distance, can maintain for 20-30 minutes, maybe a lot longer if great fitness and mental strength)
Level 8: just off a really hard pace (starts to hurt by 25-50 yards, can maintain for 2-3 minutes)
Level 9: hard pace, can maintain for 60 +/-seconds
Level 10: fastest possible, killer pace, can maintain for 20 +/- seconds
What pace do you generally do for a 10k? 10 miler? 8+ hour swim?
In August I got my first 10K finish at Swim to the Moon in Michigan (out and back lake course). My intensity stayed around a 6+ the first 5K. The water was cool and calm, there was a good crowd, I could draft some, and I felt great. Then about ½ way reality set in. Both my shoulders started to hurt and though I never bonked, my energy level was decidedly lower physically and mentally. The second 5K I was a level 5 most of the time. My time for the 1st 5K was 1:25:26, 2nd 5K 1:31:54 for a total 10K time of 2:57:30. (I was very happy with my time.) So I wasn’t insanely slower for the 2nd half even though I didn't push as hard and I didn’t draft at all.
Was it dumb to start out at a 6+ intensity? I wonder if I kept it at 5-5+, if my shoulders would hold out better. The two 10K practice swims I did this summer, at a 4-5, didn’t cause my shoulders to hurt at all. Even at 10K.
In the pool if I swim a 1650 yards at about a 5 intensity my time is 26:30 or so. If I find the fortitude to keep it at a 6 to 6+ I can get it down by about a minute to 25:30. Very different experience though, for not lots faster. I’m thinking that for long swims an intensity of 5 or 5+ except maybe for short periods is the better way to go.
What do you more experienced OW swimmers say?
Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. --Neale Donald Walsch