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  #1  
Old 09-22-2010
KatieK KatieK is offline
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KatieK
Default Tough 7K Swim

Hi All,
This past weekend, I did 7K worth of open water swimming on a lake. It was actually three races in a row: 1K, 2K, and 4K. I felt I was well prepared to swim that distance with a few minutes of rest between races.

My expectation was to have fun, feel relaxed, and finish under 2:30:00. In fact, it was not fun at all. I struggled the whole time. It took me almost 3 hours, and I had to force myself to finish.

So, what happened?!?!
1.) I got off to a bad start on the 1K. Less than a minute before the start, someone told me the number on my cap wasn't visible. I removed my cap and goggles and replaced them while treading water with just seconds to go. My left goggle was full of water for the entire race. That rushed, panicky feeling stayed with me all day.

2.) I've become very dependent on the Tempo Trainer to relax myself when my stroke is off or I get an adrenalin rush. I wasn't using it for the race because it's not legal. I really didn't know how to recover without it. I never got that relaxed, happy, efficient feeling.

3.) The course was right next to a marina, so the wake was bad. It got worse as the morning went on. I usually don't mind a little wake, but I'd never experienced so much of it for such a long time. My neck hurt from getting knocked around while sighting. My armpits were chafing against themselves (no wetsuit, just skin).

4.) I thought I was doing much worse than I was. If I wasn't in the middle of a clump of bodies, I thought it was because I was in last place. I thought that all the people who are normally slower than I am were way ahead of me. I was even afraid that they wouldn't let me finish because I was so far behind. None of this was true.

So, I'm interested to hear what advice or insights you guys have on this. Especially:
1.) Do you think I did the right thing by forcing myself to finish? I was having thoughts like "I am never swimming again" for the last 2K.
2.) What do you do to fix your mental state in a situation like that?
3.) I've been working on speed lately, and I've improved at a much faster rate than I expected. With the Tempo Trainer, doing shorter repeats, I can hold my stroke length pretty well as I speed up. That seems like a good thing, but it maybe it's messing up my ability to pace myself for longer distances. Do any of you have trouble like that?

Thanks,
Katie
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  #2  
Old 09-22-2010
splashingpat splashingpat is offline
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splashingpat
Default i so feel for you Katie! I can not wait until somebody makes it better for you

Quote:
Originally Posted by KatieK View Post
Hi All,
This past weekend, I did 7K worth of open water swimming on a lake. It was actually three races in a row: 1K, 2K, and 4K. I felt I was well prepared to swim that distance with a few minutes of rest between races.

My expectation was to have fun, feel relaxed, and finish under 2:30:00. In fact, it was not fun at all. I struggled the whole time. It took me almost 3 hours, and I had to force myself to finish.

So, what happened?!?!
1.) I got off to a bad start on the 1K. Less than a minute before the start, someone told me the number on my cap wasn't visible. I removed my cap and goggles and replaced them while treading water with just seconds to go. My left goggle was full of water for the entire race. That rushed, panicky feeling stayed with me all day.

2.) I've become very dependent on the Tempo Trainer to relax myself when my stroke is off or I get an adrenalin rush. I wasn't using it for the race because it's not legal. I really didn't know how to recover without it. I never got that relaxed, happy, efficient feeling.

3.) The course was right next to a marina, so the wake was bad. It got worse as the morning went on. I usually don't mind a little wake, but I'd never experienced so much of it for such a long time. My neck hurt from getting knocked around while sighting. My armpits were chafing against themselves (no wetsuit, just skin).

4.) I thought I was doing much worse than I was. If I wasn't in the middle of a clump of bodies, I thought it was because I was in last place. I thought that all the people who are normally slower than I am were way ahead of me. I was even afraid that they wouldn't let me finish because I was so far behind. None of this was true.

So, I'm interested to hear what advice or insights you guys have on this. Especially:
1.) Do you think I did the right thing by forcing myself to finish? I was having thoughts like "I am never swimming again" for the last 2K.
2.) What do you do to fix your mental state in a situation like that?
3.) I've been working on speed lately, and I've improved at a much faster rate than I expected. With the Tempo Trainer, doing shorter repeats, I can hold my stroke length pretty well as I speed up. That seems like a good thing, but it maybe it's messing up my ability to pace myself for longer distances. Do any of you have trouble like that?

Thanks,
Katie
I can not
I really wish i could!
i do not get that stuff!

i think the start is what really messed you up!
maybe you
should go back
when you are ready!

Last edited by splashingpat : 09-22-2010 at 04:35 PM.
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  #3  
Old 09-22-2010
westyswoods westyswoods is offline
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KatieK,

First let me thank you for sharing your experience. Sounds like you had some great learning opportunities put before you. Step back and review each of your issues, what can be gained from them and how are you going to correct them.

The question of not finishing is one only you can answer. I say congratulations on a very on completing a very tough 7K. Again only you have the answer.

It sounds as though you are having many of the same growing pains I am. The difference being you progress appears more rapid than mine. A couple of points I will make and feel comfortable commenting on.

1. I do not believe that we can successfully transfer pool speed and TT work into open water longer distances without doing that work in OW. There have been many threads which have talked about pace in long distances.

2. There was a recent post "Mind Games" which I am quite sure you have read. My response I hope can be applied across the board. The mind is wired a ######## different ways we need to use it in the positive.

3. When training there were always three points I would like to make in reviews.
a. What did we do well?
b. What needs to be improved?
c. How can we train better to get our desired results?

In that order. Keep It Simple Stupid, (KISS)

Way Go KatieK My Hat Is Off To You

Swim Silent and Be Well
Westy
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  #4  
Old 09-23-2010
KatieK KatieK is offline
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Westy and Pat, thanks so much for your encouragement.

Quote:
Originally Posted by westyswoods View Post
The question of not finishing is one only you can answer. I say congratulations on a very on completing a very tough 7K. Again only you have the answer.
Well said. I think I learned more from finishing than I would have from not finishing. I knew I could handle the distance. If I'd stopped before finishing, I would have questioned myself about that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by westyswoods View Post
1. I do not believe that we can successfully transfer pool speed and TT work into open water longer distances without doing that work in OW. There have been many threads which have talked about pace in long distances.
Agreed! I actually have been doing a lot of OW training, much of it with the tempo trainer. Usually swimming in open water is pure bliss--I was completely shocked not to feel that way during the race.

I think the real variable here was the feeling of pressure. The race setting combined with an ambitious undertaking really threw me for a loop. Next time, I'll go into it with fewer expectations.

I also need to do some training in heavy wake. There's a (not nice but safe) place to swim near a marina that I can start hitting on Saturday afternoons to get some more practice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by westyswoods View Post
2. There was a recent post "Mind Games" which I am quite sure you have read. My response I hope can be applied across the board. The mind is wired a ######## different ways we need to use it in the positive.
Those mind games were definitely brutal!!! My thoughts were definitely not my friends during that race. Next time that happens, I think I'll float on my back and relax for a few seconds. That's the only thing I can think of that might work to restore my sanity when I get so hyped up. I didn't do it this time because I was concerned about time. Since I wasn't happy with my time using that strategy, I'll be more concerned with feeling good. I never again want to lose sight of my primary goal in swimming: feel happy in the water.
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  #5  
Old 09-23-2010
splashingpat splashingpat is offline
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splashingpat
Default Thanks Katie....let Me Know When We Can Get Together!

Quote:
Originally Posted by KatieK View Post
Westy and Pat, thanks so much for your encouragement.


Well said. I think I learned more from finishing than I would have from not finishing. I knew I could handle the distance. If I'd stopped before finishing, I would have questioned myself about that.


Agreed! I actually have been doing a lot of OW training, much of it with the tempo trainer. Usually swimming in open water is pure bliss--I was completely shocked not to feel that way during the race.

I think the real variable here was the feeling of pressure. The race setting combined with an ambitious undertaking really threw me for a loop. Next time, I'll go into it with fewer expectations.

I also need to do some training in heavy wake. There's a (not nice but safe) place to swim near a marina that I can start hitting on Saturday afternoons to get some more practice.


Those mind games were definitely brutal!!! My thoughts were definitely not my friends during that race. Next time that happens, I think I'll float on my back and relax for a few seconds. That's the only thing I can think of that might work to restore my sanity when I get so hyped up. I didn't do it this time because I was concerned about time. Since I wasn't happy with my time using that strategy, I'll be more concerned with feeling good. I never again want to lose sight of my primary goal in swimming: feel happy in the water.

thanks KATIE for Sharing
MY PRIMARY GOAL IN SWIMMING, DANCIN, AND IN LIFE IS TO
FEEL HAPPY IN IT!
& I'm happy you have helped me out!
UNTIL WE MEET UP AGAIN!

Last edited by splashingpat : 09-24-2010 at 02:24 PM.
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  #6  
Old 09-23-2010
haschu33 haschu33 is offline
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Hi Katie,

I cannot contribute anything to #3, but will try on the other two.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KatieK View Post
1.) Do you think I did the right thing by forcing myself to finish? I was having thoughts like "I am never swimming again" for the last 2K.
2.) What do you do to fix your mental state in a situation like that?
You posted this in the other thread:
Quote:
Originally Posted by KatieK View Post
...I love that feeling of "mindful practice". That discipline of saying no to every stray thought that pops into my head and focusing only on my technique does wonders for me. It improves my swimming (of course), but it also makes me feel relaxed, happy, confident, humble, etc. ...
While I am still impressed with what you mentioned (I think it is the word 'humble' that got me), I could ask: what happened to that discipline in this race?

Furthermore you state this:
Quote:
Originally Posted by KatieK View Post
Those mind games were definitely brutal!!! My thoughts were definitely not my friends during that race.
First of all you seem to have a quite well developed ability of creating a distance between you and your thoughts. That also impresses me (Sorry for the repitition ;-) ). While this might be something normal for you as you are used to it - I am quite sure that this ability is not very common.

Back to the race. I surmise that seeing 'that your thoughts were not your friends during that race' is something that you put in words afterwords, while during the race you experience this simply as an extremely unpleasant state, with a feeling of having no real control and falling pray to circumstances that now control you.
Like: you changed your cap, got worried about the time, panicked and couldn't get rid of that feeling of being too late. Additionally that water in the goggles was quite annoying. Which didn't make it better.

So I answer your first question, and think that it was amazing that you didn't stop but finished the race and it was the best you could do.

Which brings me to the assumption that it might be that you can get quite stubborn at times. I should ask your friends about this :-)


So, what happened?
After you changed and replaced your cap you got this panicked feeling. This feeling was not a body reaction (like what you get when you desperately need air), but mind made. It was a stray thought, in a way. You didn't recognize it as a stray thought, because it was convincing and it had reasoning, you were busy feeling pressurized already and it fell on well prepared ground:
Quote:
... The race setting combined with an ambitious undertaking...
In fact, if you really analyze, you were not late at all and in a 7k OW race 30 seconds do not really matter anyway.
So you bought this thought and took it for real. The resulting feeling didn't leave for the whole day, isn't that amazing? Just one stupid thought at the right time, we get carried away and it takes such a long time to recover.

The rest is 'business as usual'. We are basically lost in this state of mind, without control and have to wait until outer circumstances or time changes the state of our mind. That's why we do something what we like at this point: going for a walk, talk to a friend, whatever. If it is possible, of course.

So, what to do?
The first thing, doing that what your original intention was, which is finishing the race, was very good. That thought of 'I will never swim again' is just another stray thought that cames out of this f**d up state of mind and it is good that you didn't listen to it. I could not have made make the situation any better. But it would not have been a drama to give in to that. It would have made it a little harder to recover, though. Because now you can use this feeling of 'I still made it' to help you get the feeling that you learned something from that race. It gives you confidence, basically.

I think it is important to notice that we do get in these situations, it is normal. In a way it is human. So no need to feel bad about it.

Secondly the question is what to do when you are in it?
I think your instinct of this:
Quote:
Next time that happens, I think I'll float on my back and relax for a few seconds.
is very good and appropriate. Yes, do that. Cut through that feeling of pressure, get the water out of the goggles, look at the sky and the clouds and the birds. For a few seconds deliberately elimate any thought of the race and take a couple of good breaths. Outbreaths, particularly. Long outbreaths will immediately give you some space and relaxation.
Then resume. In the end you will not have lost any time.

Also this:
Quote:
I think the real variable here was the feeling of pressure. The race setting combined with an ambitious undertaking really threw me for a loop. Next time, I'll go into it with fewer expectations.
Basically you have a good feeling about what to do. Just follow that.

Additionally some suggestions. It is good to practice dealing with ones own mind. So whenever you remember, try to see your thoughts as 'stray' thoughts. That way it gets easier to detach from the thoughts. Taking our thoughts as the reality is a real strong habit that we have and it takes a lot of practice to change that.
Additionally try to find a routine that helps you to relax. Too bad you had this routine with the TT and couldn't use it. So try to find something that works in a race. (Funny: the TT never relaxes me, it always tenses me up and I always swim with better SPL without TT).

So, that's about what I can contribute. If it is a contribution. Please tell me if you think this is useless nonsense, I don't have any desire to bother people.


I think you are doing quite well and I am actually envious about that 7k swim, I wish I could do that.
Not envious about that state of mind, though. I could create that on my own :-((

Hang on in there
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  #7  
Old 09-24-2010
KatieK KatieK is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by haschu33 View Post
After you changed and replaced your cap you got this panicked feeling. This feeling was not a body reaction (like what you get when you desperately need air), but mind made. It was a stray thought, in a way. You didn't recognize it as a stray thought, because it was convincing and it had reasoning, you were busy feeling pressurized already and it fell on well prepared ground:

So you bought this thought and took it for real. The resulting feeling didn't leave for the whole day, isn't that amazing? Just one stupid thought at the right time, we get carried away and it takes such a long time to recover.

The rest is 'business as usual'. We are basically lost in this state of mind, without control and have to wait until outer circumstances or time changes the state of our mind. That's why we do something what we like at this point: going for a walk, talk to a friend, whatever. If it is possible, of course.
Quote:
Originally Posted by haschu33 View Post
Additionally some suggestions. It is good to practice dealing with ones own mind. So whenever you remember, try to see your thoughts as 'stray' thoughts. That way it gets easier to detach from the thoughts. Taking our thoughts as the reality is a real strong habit that we have and it takes a lot of practice to change that
Quote:
Originally Posted by haschu33 View Post
Cut through that feeling of pressure, get the water out of the goggles, look at the sky and the clouds and the birds. For a few seconds deliberately elimate any thought of the race and take a couple of good breaths. Outbreaths, particularly. Long outbreaths will immediately give you some space and relaxation.
Then resume. In the end you will not have lost any time.
Exactly! I definitely need to find a way to do this when I'm out there alone in OW for such a long time. You're totally correct that it wouldn't have cost me any time overall (not that I cared at that point). I didn't think to stop when I felt rushed. Once I was out of gas, I didn't stop because I didn't think I would be able to finish if I did. Next time, I'll stop no matter what, just to get a reality check.

In the pool, it's easy. The minute I stop focusing on my stroke, my SPL goes up. I get objective feedback every 25 yds. In open water, there's not much in the way of objective data to nudge me back to reality.

Quote:
Originally Posted by haschu33 View Post
Too bad you had this routine with the TT and couldn't use it. So try to find something that works in a race. (Funny: the TT never relaxes me, it always tenses me up and I always swim with better SPL without TT).
I didn't find the TT calming at first either. However, as I speed up to faster tempos, the TT helps me feel like I don't have to rush. Without it, my perception of "fast" vs. "slow" is completely subjective.

My coach had suggested that I swim at a stroke rate of 1.0. This would have been reasonable but ambitious if I had a reliable internal pace clock. On my swim this morning, 1.0 felt like s-l-o-w gear. Other times, 1.0 feels like a pretty brisk pace. Without the tempo trainer, I feel like I have to rush to hit 1.0.

In hindsight, I know I should have swam at a much slower pace since I couldn't use the TT. I would have been better off holding my stroke together at 1.1-1.3

Quote:
Originally Posted by haschu33 View Post
First of all you seem to have a quite well developed ability of creating a distance between you and your thoughts. That also impresses me (Sorry for the repitition ;-) ). While this might be something normal for you as you are used to it - I am quite sure that this ability is not very common.
Thanks for the kind words. I'm not sure this is a natural ability. I concentrate really hard because I can see how much better my results are when I do, and I *really* care about improving. I can't, for example, hold that level of concentration while I'm cleaning the house. ;-)


Now that I realize just how weak my pacing ability is, I'm not going to worry about my race times for awhile. If I have to choose between speed and distance, I'm much more interested in distance. I'm going to discipline myself to hold a slow stroke rate until I know I have the skills to hold my stroke together at a faster pace under stressful conditions.

Thanks so much for the thoughtful feedback and the encouragement.
Katie
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  #8  
Old 09-24-2010
terry terry is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by haschu33 View Post
Cut through that feeling of pressure, get the water out of the goggles, look at the sky and the clouds and the birds. For a few seconds deliberately elimate any thought of the race and take a couple of good breaths. Outbreaths, particularly. Long outbreaths will immediately give you some space and relaxation.
Then resume. In the end you will not have lost any time. . . .

Please tell me if you think this is useless nonsense,
I have to comment that there have been few pieces of advice on open water swimming on this forum or anywhere else more useful and valuable than what Haschu wrote about allowing yourself space to appreciate your surroundings - and yourself - if you start feeling overwhelmed in any way during a race.

I often forget this myself, both while racing in OW, and while teaching or writing about how to prepare for races. It's always valuable to be reminded.

What brings home its importance to me is that I've been frustrated and disappointed with my results the last two years.

In 2006 and 2007 my training was faithful, effortful and focused and my racing reflected that. Not only were my times fast and places high, but during races I felt in control of my destiny. When someone else set a fast pace, I was able to find a matching gear. I never felt overmatched. But those years set a standard I could only maintain by continuing to prioritize speed over other aspects of swimming.

For the past three years I had not made speed a high priority. As well I had broken ribs for most of the 2008 OW season and an autoimmune condition for most of the 2010 season. My training intensity and volume fell way off, and my race performance the last two seasons really reflected it.

Where I had always gotten great pleasure from simply doing the best I was capable of on a given day -- as I said if I could set a plan and execute it I felt I'd done well; I set more modest plans when my preparation was modest -- during the three races I swam at the end of this summer I felt a bit stressed at being left behind and passed by so many. I was the passer, not the passee in 2006-07.
And I felt disappointment at my results, both time and place, afterward.

I got the best possible advice from Shane Eversfield, TI Coach and author of Zendurance. Shane has been a high-accomplishing athlete himself, but quite often he races more for the experience than for time or place. He still takes great joy from his experience even when his time and place are more modest.

Shane's advice is to Race with your Heart. We all place great importance on using the heart's physiological capacity as athletes. That can obscure its loving capacity.

Today I am exactly 6 months from turning 60. I expect to resume more active racing as I enter the new age group. I feel that racing with my heart will be the most valuable capacity I can develop at this point in life. Haschu just said it another way.
__________________
Terry Laughlin
Head Coach & Chief Executive Optimist

May your laps be as happy as mine.

My TI Story
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  #9  
Old 09-24-2010
splashingpat splashingpat is offline
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without Katie
"I" got the help
"I" needed
"I" looked up to her! and that is part of what we need! or is that just me?

i saw that she got messed up because of another telling her she was NOT ready to go!
(because they could n't see her cap!)



MIND GAMES...
she wasn't thinkin of the others....but YA HAVE TO ....

that's my thought on it, but
IT WILL HAVE TO BE KATIES!
to tell us!

that's me
& I LUV KATIE
it was her swim NOT mine

but i wise person
knows how to listen and
hears what the other is sayN

talk away guys
(it's all seems so complicated BUT
i can simple dig thru it all and "see" what I need to 2!

Last edited by splashingpat : 09-24-2010 at 03:31 PM.
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  #10  
Old 09-24-2010
haschu33 haschu33 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by terry View Post
...Shane's advice is to Race with your Heart. We all place great importance on using the heart's physiological capacity as athletes. That can obscure its loving capacity.

Today I am exactly 6 months from turning 60. I expect to resume more active racing as I enter the new age group. I feel that racing with my heart will be the most valuable capacity I can develop at this point in life.
I am impressed! That's quite a statement!

As my age is quite much like Terry's I am wondering if the younger ones here think that this is more sentimental or late-romantic talking?

I can say for myself that I definitely get less sentimental and less romantic the older I get. But I get more and more convinced that these kind of statements do reflect the true nature of reality and do carry a lot of wisdom.

I got another one here. I read a book about studies that have disappeared from the current scientific literature on nutritional science.
It's a study from the 1920s that was done on the people of Tarahumara, they live(d) in Northern Mexico in the area of Chihuahua. There were known for extreme physical capabilities. They were not much involved with the rest of the world, but had contact. They had, it was said. a unique stable, self-contained and environmental friendly social structure.
Their 'unimpressive' diet was 'mais y frijoles', corn and small beans for about 70-80% of their diet. Additionally some berries and some vegetables. No milk protein at all, very little animal protein. At that time science was convinced (and to some degree still is) that high physical performance is only possible with a diet that consists mainly of animal protein, or milk protein. Which is the same in a way. A scientist calculated that they leisurely showed performances that required 720 kcal per hour and a lot more than 10.000 kcal per day.
The scientists said that the Tarhumaras had neither an extreme lung capacity, nor an abnormal heart or an extreme circulatory system or any of that.

The Tarahumaras would frequently engage in a kind of kickball-race where they were constantly following the ball that was passed on in a relay style. This could last for 24 or 48 hours and they would run 150 to 300 km during this race.
It was normal that young men would carry 100 pounds 77 km in 70 hours or that entire families would walk 250 km to make a visit or join a feast.
Rarely they went for hunting. If they did they would simply run after a deer for a couple of days until the animal died of exhaustion.
They also performed races. They were racing on rough mountain paths that were going up and down. A 65 km race was once won by a 15 year old girl.
A 43 old man ran such a mountain path of 65 km in 6 hours and 52 minutes.
It was standard that they ran on these paths with an hourly speed of 10 to 13 km per hour.
Most remarkable is that they never showed any desire to participate in Olympic Games or the like. They made their achievements just for themselves.

They had a saying: 'What is a tree doing if you forget it? It blossoms.'


Sorry, Katie, for the off-topic insert.


Happy laps, folks.
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