This article appears here with the kind permission of Asha, I certainly thought it was worthy of sharing with my readers..enjoy
"I did some big swims last year. I swam the length of Tahoe (21 miles) and Catalina Channel (20.2 miles) At that time, my mind-set was simply that I wanted to understand what it would be like to train for something huge. In other words, "How the hell is it done?" I've learned some things since then and I'm making some adjustments. While I'm sure I will continue to tweak my training plan, here are a few significant changes from last year's training I am making as I prepare for the English Channel (21 miles).
1) Recovery Swims
Last year, after a long swim, I rested out-of-water, the following day. That is to say, I did nothing - maybe a little stretching. This year, on the day following a very long swim, I am making sure I get in the water and swim no matter what. It doesn't have to be fast, it doesn't have to be long, but I'm getting in the water and moving. The intention is to recover the same muscles that worked so hard the day before. This is a small change that I am already feeling a big difference with. I'm sending my body a message that, "Yes, we are really doing this again. Let's endure and it's okay."
2) Mindful Resting
When I knew I had a long swim day last year (multiple practices or just hours in the bay), I turned on my "go-go-go" mode. It was a type of hyper-vigilence. It was a super-hero syndrome. Not only did I swim like a maniac, I also did all normal errands and chores, family care and work demands. I also had a few panic attacks while driving last year. I attribute this to my "hard-driving" training program which didn't allow for restful pauses. This year, I'm resting after or in-between swims. For example, when I swam five practices in one day a few weeks ago, when I had a short break, I gave myself a 10 -20 minute Savasana. I allowed myself to completly sink into a restful state and let go completely. This deeply restorative pose is now a part of my new training regimine. I set myself up with a bolster under my knees, a blanket and an eye pillow. Man, does it feel amazing. I can usually find 10-20 extra minutes after a long swim day. It makes a world of difference. I'm doing it today after my 3-hour swim. It's just part of the plan.
3) Double (or Triple) Distance Days
The days of a single long swim day are gone, my friends. It's time to build tenacious sustainable endurance. With the inspiration of S.C.A.R. coming up (4 lakes, 4days, 40 miles), I am incorporating some consecutive multiple days of distance swimming to this year's training. In addition to planning this at home, I've reserved some weekends at Donner Lake in June and July so I can simply camp and swim - two (or three) long training swim days in a row.
4) Counting the Hours (not Distance)
I was counting every yard, meter and mile last year. It gets to be a little much, fixating on the distance, as if the numbers are God. This year, my focus is time in the water. Time in the water. I swam 4 hours on Sunday, an hour yesterday and today it's 3 hours. I'm not counting the distance or wearing my Garmin. I know what the approximate distance is and that's good enough. After all, my goal is to finish no matter what. At 15 or 20 miles, the numbers are irrelevant, but my comfort level with time in the water, needs to be infallible.
5) Stroke Quality
I'm not sure why, but last year, I just wanted a stroke that would keep going forever. I didn't care if it was slow. I just wanted to know I could finish. I didn't put much focus on quality and efficiency of my stroke technique. This year, I want every edge possible for the specific endurance event at hand. So for example, I'm getting comfortable with not only bi-lateral breathing but breathing only-left and only-right for extended times. I'm removing any cross over of my hands in front and kicking more consistently. I'm working getting the full push-through and increasing momentum in my underwater pull. I'm swimming more butterfly because 1) I like it and 2) I like the idea of strong deltoids, trapezoids, rhomboids and lats - I could use the help!"