Friday, 8 September 2017

Training plan for Windermere one way swim.

Planning the training schedule for a 10.5 mile swim ought to be undertaken with at least a small degree of military precision based on a whole cohort of factors like, for example, research, fitness, experience... Instead, armed with nothing but my diary and a (borrowed) unicorn pen, Shark and I found a quiet corner of the cafe to more "hatch a plan' than produce some structured training! The general consensus amongst the small group of two, after a morning of deliberating and pretty much eating our way through the menu was that neither of us had much of a clue.

In honesty I did look on the internet for a training plan to use, but my searches pretty much drew a blank when it came to anything over 10km. There were/are many for up to this distance. I know this as I used one last year, as my very generous children surprised/shocked me with the Mother's Day gift of a 10km swim, and although I didn't follow the plan to the letter, it gave me a great base from which to train. I did need to adapted it slightly to suit me, however it worked a treat. I base this on the fact that I survived the swim in one piece, and enjoyed it enough to do another one after it (although not immediately- I was in shock for a short while after ...).

I did start the planning for Windermere by writing what turned out to be a worryingly long list of my limitations. Some temporary (on doctors orders and physiotherapists advice) and other things I could never do because of my dicky knees and hips, in fact the list turned out to be longer than my actual diary, and so I quickly ditched this approach in favour of just writing down each week and what I hoped I could do, and as I am only a novice swimmer, and far from qualified to know how to plan to train like a champion, I could be forgiven if I cocked it up!

Here's the original plan

And so it began. I stepped back into the pool on 1st March, and gave myself a month to be swimming a mile. Speed didn't matter (no I don't actually believe that either), I just had to be up to that distance. This is a copy of the original, and very un-neat 21 week plan. It only included the dates for the longer swim, and so in the interest of completion here's the rest.

Day 1- long swim - increase gradually according to scheduled week (open water whenever possible).

Day 2- rest

Day 3- steady 1 mile (just turning my arms), loads of stretches.

Day 4- sets and sometimes a training session with a coach focussing mainly on stroke and drills, followed by a steady mile.

Day 5- rest

Day 6- either a 1 or a 2 mile swim. Slightly faster pace than when swimming in long session.

Day 7- rest

And there you have it - with very limited knowledge, a very amateur and basic training plan was cobbled together, and only time would tell whether it would actually be successful.

As I got into the swing of things, I have to say that the original plan (I'm talking about the long swim day here) was working a treat, right up until the day that we had to change venues, as one of us (that be me) had a family party that had to be attended that evening (our usual swim time). According to the plan, that I had been diligently following, I was scheduled to swim 6 miles on this date, and therefore had to change the swim venue. Unfortunately, due to unswimmable swimming conditions (Shark seeing a shark (I know, right? In a land locked lake in Yorkshire...) amidst some unruly weeds in the middle of the lake) led to an abandoned attempt after only a mile (read here for the finer details) still-yet-to-overcome-fear-of-weeds.html before we headed to the cafe to eat cake that we really didn't deserve, but ate anyway!

With no other opportunity to do a long swim that week, I had to wait (feeling tetchy) till the next week to get back on schedule. I must say that it was a great 6 mile swim that followed. I felt surprisingly well, despite the week off, and after much discussion, analysing (loosely) and agonising, Shark and I realised that we had enjoyed not having a longer swim and felt refreshed and revived. We discussed the possibility that swimming a long swim every week was not giving our bodies sufficient time to recover after each one, and that having what was essentially a week off, there had actually been no dip in performance, and we felt none the worse for it, and actually revised the plan after this date to:

20th June - 6 miles
27th June - 5 miles
4th July - 7 miles
11th July - 5 miles
18th Jul - 8.5 miles
25th July - 5 miles
1st August - 9 miles
8th August -6 miles
15th August - 4 miles 

Was the training plan successful? Did I over train? Did I under train? I truly have no idea, but here's what I do know (now I'm post swim). I had trained to swim the length of Windermere for 6 months, and yes there were times when it was tough, it was tiring, the water was really cold, I couldn't find my mojo and some days it just hurt to swim, but I did it! I swam 10.5 miles without stopping (bar the food breaks) and without injury and the knowledge that I had worked hard to get to that point. I exited the lake (in the most inelegant of ways - as standard!) feeling absolutely amazing. On reflection, I have to add that it's not just about the training plan. It's also about having a great group of supportive family and friends that believe you can do it. It's also about determination and self belief and it's about the rewards at the end. I'm talking about the sense of achievement, the sense of accomplishment, the bragging rights and finally the huge slab of guilt free cake!

Finally, it's a year since I first began writing my little blog, which stared as a way of writing about my recovery, the training and the swim I did last year (Windermere one way). I have been amazed and overwhelmed at the amazing response, and lovely messages of support I have had. After I had completed the swim I was asked if I would consider putting last year’s journey into a book. Going from a blog to an e-book is something quite different, and a lot scarier, however I decided after a lot of consideration to take the plunge (no pun intended) and do it, and finally has now been published this week on Amazon. How amazing (but mostly scary) is that? I hope that for those of you that read it feel inspired to not only take on difficult challenges, but also to never underestimate how far you can push yourself to achieve what you set out to do.

Open Water Woman Swims Windermere is available on Amazon

I also have a "group" on Facebook. Its not really a group, as it's only me, but on it I post more regularly, and I'm also on Twitter and Instagram. You'd be very welcome. Here are the links. 😊


  1. Thanks for all of your posts, I found you through Doncaster open water swimmers. As a fellow owner of a dodgy knee and on doctor's advice to stop my running, I have come back to swimming. Watching your progress has been really motivating for me.