DRY LAND SWIM TRAINING: March 21 - May 1
With 5 weeks to go until May 1st, set up a three times a week fitness habit. The focus here is on moving your cardiovascular fitness up a notch, building shoulder strength and flexibility and preparing to swim after a long locked down winter.
If you have access to a pool - then begin the water work, and just repeat weeks until you feel comfortable.
Aim for three sessions a week from here till May. Four sessions is ambitious and will speed up your fitness gains, two will contribute if it’s all you can do. Vary the focus point of each session:
- Fitness: anything cardiovascular for 30 minutes will help. Rowing is a great full body workout that incorporates many swimming muscles (if and when you have access to a rowing machine). Introduce ‘fartlek’ to increase fitness gains: this is on-off training where you push for a bit, then ‘steady-state’ for a bit, and can be applied to cycling, running or rowing. Got a stretch cord? Try Dan’s dryland swim session above <Add link>
- Endurance: Do one longer session a week, up to an hour, of hiking or cycling. The plan is (cold acclimatisation allowing) that by June 21st, you’ll be fit and ready for a 5k swim. That means in three months time (depending on swim speed) you will be swimming for 1 hour 17 (25 minute miler), 1 hour 33 (30 minute miler), 1 hour 55 minutes (35 minute miler), 2 hours 20 (40 minute miler). Everything you do now to increase your base fitness and endurance will bring dividends later.
- Conditioning: Work on shoulder strength and flexibility to help prepare you for the pool or lake. Yoga and pilates both provide excellent conditioning for swimmers. Use your own practise, or head to youtube for some videos such as the 18 minute Yoga for Swimmers with Adrienne, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WymRLcDo1ek or the 30 minute vinyasa based Yoga for Swimmers.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDrwLeCntdI. Also see the 6 poses in The OSS Yoga for Swimmers. https://www.outdoorswimmingsociety.com/yoga-for-swimming/
If and when you can get pool time, start using sessions from week one below and keep repeating weeks. Winter swims will all help acclimatisation, but few swimmers will be using open water for training at this point because most will find it too cold to put their head in.
WORK IN THE WATER: May 1 - June 21 / 7 weeks
THE WEEKLY ROUTINE ON THIS PROGRAMME
Every session is designed to be so simple you can write them on the back of your hand. They all start with the same warm up and cool down (so you can do that bit from memory) and then the programme can be written on your hand with a sharpie :) Use a waterproof watch and you are good to go!
Short 30-60 minute sessions are fine - It is flexible as fitness levels will vary, as will access to pool time and ability to withstand cold (open water lakes that are likely to be 12-14 degrees).
Just whatever you do, do your version of the three sessions a week and keep going. Beyond that, always get out if you’re cold, and stay in if you want to add 10 minutes longer, according to your own ability.
Every week you will be asked to to 3 sessions:
Pool space limited? Forgot to book a lake spot? Substitute a land fitness training session for one of the water sessions at any time eg 20 mins of rowing, running (even a walk run mix if knees a worry) or cycling.
At any time, add in a fourth session if you’re enjoying it. Getting to 5k in 7 weeks is a push: think of your overall distance covered in a week as well as three sessions, and aim to be doing 10k a week in the last few weeks.
THE WEEKLY WARM UP AND COOL DOWN
Every week throughout the session your 9 minute WARM UP and 3 minute COOL DOWN will be the same.
The warm up and cool down are the same throughout the programme, so you can commit them to memory. Use them as time to clear your mind ahead of swimming: concentrate on being streamlined, being propulsive, pulling with your hand and forearm, hiding from the water and swimming effortlessly.
Before you get in the water try several minutes of dry land arm swinging to jump start your warm up. If you find it hard to get your face in, dab some water on your cheeks and back of neck before you enter: it all helps remove the shock reflex.
Once in the water, use the first 9 minutes to warm up, consisting of the following
- 6 min easy swimming - get in, get acclimatised, get your face in, and settle in to an easy front crawl. If it takes longer than 6 minutes to settle down in the cold week, stake longer, doing a few strokes face in, a few breaststroke, as you need till you are ready for continuous front crawl.
- 3 min performing 10 strokes fast 20 strokes easy to actually start to warm up. Stretch the long slow easy strokes out and feel the difference to the faster more hurried strokes. This is a great way to elevate your heart rate.
3 min easy cool down swimming. If safe to perform where you are, double arm backstroke is a great way to unwind your FC focused shoulders.
WHAT TEMPERATURE WILL THE WATER BE?
If you are intending to complete your 5k in open water (rather than a heated pool), then you are looking at spring swimming temperatures, and part of your journey over the next 7 weeks is going to be acclimatisation. See the ‘Survive’ section for tips on kit, cold acclimatisation, and use The OSS social channels to ask questions of others. The FB is full of other swimmers who will give you answers.
The sea is going to be about 10 degrees when the programme starts, and 13.5 degrees by the Longest Swim.
Rivers lag behind, and vary more - they may be about 8 in April, but reached 15 in June.
Lakes will also, on average, be 10-15 degrees.
Work within your limits: if you are cold, always get out, get dry and get warm: do not endanger yourself by completing a swim session. You are responsible for your own safety. See the 8 questions Winter Swimmers Ask About Cold https://www.outdoorswimmingsociety.com/tips-on-winter-swimming/ , Understanding Hypothermia https://www.outdoorswimmingsociety.com/understanding-hypothermia/ and
EFFORT LEVELS: TERMS EXPLAINED
- Easy FC/Freestyle, for warm up/cool down and relaxing after any harder efforts.
- Medium - a solid effort but sustainable.
- Fast FC/Freestyle - a best effort but never so much you lose control of your technique.
Get tagging us using #swimcouchto5k on your swim journey as we all count down to summer solstice 21st June