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Strait of Juan de Fuca: training, part 1 of 2

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Iíve got a theory: anyone who says they cannot find the time or place to train is lying to themselves.

Last year, I told myself I wouldnít train for anything this year. Life being as unsettled as it is right now, how could I give the necessary effort to make any serious swim worthwhile? Look how well that worked out. This is Part 1 of 2 of my training for the Strait of Juan de Fuca. You wonít find any sets here. If you want that, check out USMS Forums, or ask a coach, or something. What you will find here are the basics of my approach to acclimatization, endurance, and how to do it without a permanent residence. In the next training post, youíll probably see an explanation of how Iím scurrying to adjust for my planís shortcomings.

Last December, when I moved to Seattle, I knew Iíd be travelling a lot. As I write this, Iím about to board my 40th plane of 2013. So finding a home team was out of the question. Even buying a monthly pool pass would be a waste of money since I spend less than 45% of my time in Seattle. Also, pools are hot and crowded (and gross). So I took to the Sound. Always free, always open, always empty, and always the perfect temperature to training for a cold-water swim.

The way I plan on accomplishing this swim is three-fold: brown fat, metabolism, be in shape.

The brown fat (which weíll say represents my level of acclimatization) Iíve been working on since I first jumped in Lake Washington in January. And Iím working on it three or four times a week when Iím not out of town. Hot showers are the worst, and I break a sweat walking to the car on a chilly morning, so it seems to be working.

Metabolism also has three parts. First, stay fed. I quickly adopted a tow-behind water bottle filled with calories (maltodextrin and AminoX, mostly). Then, I started shoving a few Gu packs in my suit to snack on. During a typical training swim, Iíll consume about 500 cal/hr with more before and after. Second, vitamins. This might not be true, but I believe vitamin B boosts metabolism. Or at least, certainly doesnít hurt it (and itís miscible, so itís very hard to overdose). Hence, my feed bottles contain crushed B-complex. Iíd like to hear what my coworkers think when they see my crushing pills and mixing piles of white powder in the office lunchroom. My swim bag also contains gummy multivitamins and fish oil capsules. Third, move! When I move on land, I get hot quickly. Therefore, if I move fast in the waterÖyou get the idea. Which brings us to

Be in shape. To warm up, literally, at the start of my cold water workouts, I jump in and swim as fast as possible until the cold numbs my skin. And when I start feeling cold later on? Swim faster! The product of these two is a fast-paced, survival-based swim. And this works! Despite minimal interval training, every time I jump in a pool I find my pace to still be over 4 km/hr. When I do want to work on something, in or out of the pool, it is usually getting my stroke rate up from 59-60 to anything over 60. Moving more means more calories burned means more heat generated means less dying in July. Right now, I feel like Iím in nearly the same shape I was before MIMS last year despite a very, very different training ďplanĒ.

By the way, ďBe in shapeĒ is easier said than done when there is no coach, no workout, no pool, and no pattern to oneís life. This is where being opportunistic has come in. When Iím in Seattle, opportunistic simply means heading to the beach after work and on weekends. Everywhere else, it means exploration and adventure. Awesome adventure. There was the day in Abbotsford, BC where the wave pool was turned on for my entire pool workout. There was a 2.5k swim in Delta, BC when I high-fived snails for forty-five minutes because the water was so shallow (it was called Mud Bay, go figure). There was the gorgeous Kinsmen Centre pool in Edmonton, AB, and the time the fire department showed up when I took my to work out to the adjacent river. There were olympians at a pool in San Jose, CA, two-foot breaking waves in Lake George, NY., and instructions on igloo building from a stranger while warming up on a Vancouver beach. Opportunistic isnít always convenient or ideal, definitely not repeatable, but it seems to be working. I could write a whole post on the merits and challenges of opportunistic training, but suffice it to say: it works for me for now.

After all of this, six months of swimming every chance and place possibly, I can get out of 50F water after two and a half hours and feel great! I am in shape, I have some brown and white fat building up, I have no excess fear for whatís to come.

I also have no idea where Iím sleeping Tuesday night, but today is Saturday and I know where Iím swimming in the morning. And itís not in the same country Iím in right now.

Fine, you win. Hereís your workout: 200 w/u LCM, 8 x 1,000 @ 15:00 200 c/d

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Updated June 17th, 2013 at 01:27 AM by andrewmalinak

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Comments

  1. StewartACarroll's Avatar
    Definately not a traditional approach, but it does seem to make complete sense. Good luck with continued training and I really enjoyed reading your post.
  2. andrewmalinak's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by StewartACarroll
    Definately not a traditional approach, but it does seem to make complete sense. Good luck with continued training and I really enjoyed reading your post.
    Thanks! Glad you're enjoying it.
  3. pwb's Avatar
    I, too, enjoy your posts, but I'm truly in awe when you mention leaving the Kinsmen (I got the joy to swim there once this summer) and heading to a nearby river. Was this recent? What's the river water temp at this time of the year?
  4. andrewmalinak's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by pwb
    I, too, enjoy your posts, but I'm truly in awe when you mention leaving the Kinsmen (I got the joy to swim there once this summer) and heading to a nearby river. Was this recent? What's the river water temp at this time of the year?
    A month ago, I went over to the N. Saskatchewan River, the one that runs across Edmonton, and jumped in at McKinney Park. It was a good workout just to stay in place. A 250m swim took me about 20min to get to Low Level Bridge, and about 3min to get back. In early May, the water was 53-55F.
  5. swimsuit addict's Avatar
    Maybe it's just as well that no one took you up on your bid to be an aquarium animal (yet). Your opportunistic training sounds much more exciting than that gig.

    (Although who know where those animals in the exhibits go after-hours for their opportunistic training . . . maybe it's no coincidence many aquaria are situated near large bodies of water.)