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Thread: Overdoing it

  1. #1
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    Overdoing it

    I am a 58 year old male swimmer - generally swim 4 times a week - 1800-2200 meters per workout. I was considering going to zones - which is first week in April. I picked up the intensity of my workouts - lots more effort - about the same yardage - after about a month - i was exhausted - i think i ran my immune system down and got a very bad cold that basically sidelined me from doing anything for a few days. i find this very frustrating. I do not feel like i am asking too much of my body to work hard 3 to 4 times a week at these yardage levels which probably put me at the lower end of a competitive scale. Perhaps as we get older - we need to limit the "hard" workouts and give our bodies more time to recover? Thoughts? Just seems a little depressing that i cannot swim hard 4 times a week at 58.

  2. #2
    Very Active Member __steve__'s Avatar
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    Re: Overdoing it

    I believe we can train just as hard, just need more time to recover

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    Very Active Member JPEnge's Avatar
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    Re: Overdoing it

    I think it's not about the intensity, but how quickly you may have ramped it up. If you go from no sprinting to sprinting every workout for example, you're going to shock your body a bit.
    400 IMer/200 backstroker in another life, now sprinter/breaststroker... Yeah, I don't know how that happened either!

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    Very Active Member waves101's Avatar
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    Re: Overdoing it

    Do you utilize recovery products/drinks? I've found them to be very helpful in getting thru sessions of increased intensity. A protein shake immediately after workout is my norm and when I'm feeling run down I'll also do one right before bed.

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    Very Active Member quicksilver's Avatar
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    Re: Overdoing it

    I'm just a couple of years younger and would suggest trying two days hard and two days easy. Meaning one hard session - and then the next time in the pool should be easy. At this age and stage, recovery is key. The "easy" days should be spent really focusing on perfect turns, and best technique. This is as equally important to engine building - if not more.

    Regarding recovery... don't wait to replenish any depleted glycogen. Meaning that you should eat something as soon as you leave the pool.


    Most nutritionists recommend eating something within 30 minutes after a workout. Your body, after using up its available energy, needs to be refueled. Specifically with carbs and protein—for energy and to repair the micro-damage that exercise does to your muscles.We're all busy, though. And sometimes, fitting in a workout means squeezing it into a quick 30-minute window and then rushing off to the next obligation. If you don't have a protein bar or other handy snack packed, getting those nutrients in may not actually happen. But if skipping a post-workout nosh becomes a habit, you risk sabotaging your fitness goals.

    "Some people will just feel fatigue, and some people can get disoriented from low blood sugar," Jennifer Beck, M.D., sports medicine specialist and pediatric orthopedist at UCLA, tells SELF. She also notes that ignoring post-workout steps that are essential for recovery, like proper nutrition, can contribute to overuse injuries. "We think a lot of overuse injuries happen when people are not replacing essential building blocks as readily as they should," Beck says. This can especially become a problem if you're doing heavy muscle-building activities and neglecting what your body needs to repair microtears and damage. Fixing those tears is how your body builds muscle; failing to do so puts your muscles at risk of further damage next time you work out.
    Excellence Is Never An Accident.

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    Re: Overdoing it

    thank you all for the advice. I think i will temper my speed day workouts with an easy day in between and see how i respond to this.

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    Very Active Member quicksilver's Avatar
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    Re: Overdoing it

    Quote Originally Posted by jmurray View Post
    thank you all for the advice. I think i will temper my speed day workouts with an easy day in between and see how i respond to this.
    As a side to my swimming - I got into competitive SUP racing about ten years ago.

    This article may be of interest. The two sports are very similar. Larry Cain is a former Olympian, and our age as well. I think he does an excellent job in explaining why recovery is important.

    Nervous system fatigue is twofold – for lack of better terms consider them “acute” or “chronic”. “Acute” fatigue happens within a short period of time like a workout where your nervous system fatigues and you find it more difficult to control your movement or be powerful at the end of the workout than you did at the beginning or during the middle of it. “Chronic” on the other hand is the result of repeated daily stress on the nervous system with insufficient recovery time. This could theoretically happen from pulling too hard for too many days in a row without sufficient rest or a day off. This is especially likely when training programs intensify and there is more high intensity work with insufficient recovery between. This is why days off are important and balance to the training program is important.
    Excellence Is Never An Accident.

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    Very Active Member Swimspire's Avatar
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    Re: Overdoing it

    JMurray, sorry to hear you've been facing some challenges in trying to increase the intensity of your workouts. However, it's great that you are taking steps to improve and turning to the forum is a good way of getting advice from plenty of fellow swimmers and coaches!

    While it is of course difficult to be absolutely certain without seeing you and doing a complete assessment, I don't think the main obstacle to your progress has to do exclusively with your age. From your post, it sounds like you are self-coached and that you decided to increase the intensity of your workouts without simultaneously increasing the yardage. This raises some important follow up questions. What do you mean by increasing intensity - are you swimming faster and harder or are you taking less rest in between sets, or both? Was this a gradual transition or did you try to start suddenly and then your cold forced you to stop? Do your practices target specific areas of weakness in your stroke technique?


    My number one advice would be to get a coach to make an analysis (video-based or on-deck) of your stroke technique. A stroke analysis and a consultation about goals and current ability is of paramount importance to creating ideal swim workouts that allow for an increase in speed, conditioning and efficiency, while avoiding injuries or illness that is related to a sudden increase in intensity or yardage. Swim workouts need to strike the right balance.


    Best of luck to you!

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    Very Active Member Sojerz's Avatar
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    Re: Overdoing it

    Quote Originally Posted by jmurray View Post
    I am a 58 year old male swimmer - generally swim 4 times a week - 1800-2200 meters per workout. I was considering going to zones - which is first week in April. I picked up the intensity of my workouts - lots more effort - about the same yardage - after about a month - i was exhausted
    I"m 68 and swimming about 12-13k per week, but it took awhile to build up to that point and I was a good HS and college swimmer back ummmm, about a half century ago.

    So, just about all, if not all, of the books I've read on training point out that most people who start training are guilty of over training, not under training. If you are walking around exhausted, that's a sure sign.

    Adaptation to training (building muscle) occurs when you rest, not when you train. So, if you are always exhausted and therefore not rested, muscle adaptation doesn't take place - training to the point of constant exhaustion is a self-defeating proposition and you will need to back off to see the benefits and gains from training.

    Yes, recovery takes longer as one gets older and it takes longer to get well too from sickness. Also, as one gets older (past middle age) we tend to lose muscle, so you are fighting nature and entropy. Unfortunately, the fight gets harder, not easier, as we age and more recovery is needed.

    As swimspire indicated you might want to provide a little more definition of your goals and practices. Get a coach to check out your mechanics and provide some workout guidance. I also think quicksilver's suggestions are good - back off from the hard workouts, inseer some recovery workouts with increased drill and stroke work.

    My $0.02
    Last edited by Sojerz; February 7th, 2018 at 06:28 PM.
    Some guys they just give up living and start dying little by little, piece by piece. Some guys come home from work and wash up and go racin’ in the street. (Bruce Springsteen, 1978)

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    Re: Overdoing it

    Thank you for taking the time to offer these thought. When i discussed intensity - i would generally be swimming much faster - but utilizing an interval that would give me more rest - say if i normally did 100's on two minutes and perhaps averaged 1:40-1:45 - i would do them on maybe 2 and a half minutes - but get the times down in the 1:30 range - more race pace type of swims. that is how i have typically prepared for a big meet - and i would mix all this up during the week - 50's, 100's, 200's - generally with more rest between the swims - but the swims were faster. As i would get closer to zones - i would often start swimming events i was targeting with "broken swims" - taking a break at the 50 for a 100 - or taking a break at the 100 for a 200. The breaks/rest get longer as I approached zones. I usually had a distance day once a week thrown in to give my body a break from this - and i generally never swim on weekends - so i get some rest there as well.

  11. #11
    aka Elaine-iaK & Aqua Dog ElaineK's Avatar
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    Re: Overdoing it

    J, there are two things I have had a difficult time accepting; however, I'm getting better at it:

    1. We all age at different rates. I have been dealing with the same issues as you this year, and I am 56. I have definitely aged more this year than in past years- or, at least it seems that way.

    It's easy to compare yourself to others in the same age group; however, if you are like me, you have been comparing yourself to BETTER swimmers in your age group who seem to keep getting personal best times at every meet. J, they are NOT the norm. They're just awesome freaks of nature! Take a look at Laura Val, for example. Go ahead and look her up if you don't recognize her name. Swimmers who compare themselves to her will only get depressed!

    If you are going to compare your 58 year old self to others your age, compare yourself to everybody! Look around, and you will realize your doing pretty darn well. Hey, for that matter, look up your event rankings (I looked up your 2016 ranking for 200 free, for example), and you will see there are plenty of people swimming a lot slower than you are, including one of my very own teammates who looks extremely fit; however, he is ranked near the bottom. There are probably plenty of those slower swimmers who are in worse shape than you and get even more exhausted. Just sayin'. There are probably also others that experienced what you have at 48 or 38 years old. Your body at 58 is telling you to lighten up your work load and back off. Listen to what it's telling you, and it will respond in kind. That brings me to #2:

    2. As you age, you will need to adjust your workouts accordingly, so you don't exhaust yourself. As the others have already said, your body needs more time to recover. Whaaaa! I hated accepting this! I LOVE to be in the pool, and if my body would let me, I would train seven days per week. As it is, I swim six days; HOWEVER, I have really had to cut back on my yardage and intensity over the past few years--- especially this year. I refuse to cut back to less than six days; however, I am allowing myself play days, which include loafing around and even chatting with the noodlers (gasp!).

    What Quicksilver suggested in post #5 WORKS! I am inserting those easy days into my workouts now, whereas I used to go at it hard all six days each week. Yesterday, I took it easy. I did just drills and technique work for 1500 yards, and none of it was on the clock. I also chucked the dryland routine except for some light stretching and foam rolling.

    Today, as a result, I had an awesome workout and took 1 second off all my breaststroke 50's (at 200 pace).
    In addition, I swam a fly set and strung together tough IM sets I would have never been able to do otherwise. My dryland went a lot better, too, and I had a ton of energy throughout my entire workout.

    Try it for yourself, and you will see it works! Most of all, don't be hard on yourself, ok?
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    Re: Overdoing it

    Thank you for sharing all this. This was very encouraging. I feel a lot like you in many ways - i think i am ageing faster than some others. I am over my cold and i am going to hit it hard again this week - but also i am going to try and do a better job of listening to what my body is telling me and adjust accordingly as needed. j

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    Very Active Member Sojerz's Avatar
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    Re: Overdoing it

    Quote Originally Posted by jmurray View Post
    Thank you for taking the time to offer these thought. When i discussed intensity - i would generally be swimming much faster - but utilizing an interval that would give me more rest - say if i normally did 100's on two minutes and perhaps averaged 1:40-1:45 - i would do them on maybe 2 and a half minutes - but get the times down in the 1:30 range - more race pace type of swims. that is how i have typically prepared for a big meet - and i would mix all this up during the week - 50's, 100's, 200's - generally with more rest between the swims - but the swims were faster. As i would get closer to zones - i would often start swimming events i was targeting with "broken swims" - taking a break at the 50 for a 100 - or taking a break at the 100 for a 200. The breaks/rest get longer as I approached zones. I usually had a distance day once a week thrown in to give my body a break from this - and i generally never swim on weekends - so i get some rest there as well.
    This all seems pretty logical and without significant issues - increasing intensity while dropping volume is what tapering is about and the resulting greater amounts of rest should produce the gains if you have a good base to taper from. Why then the exhaustion?

    If the exhaustion returns when you start back up, consider seeing a medical doctor and reviewing what you are doing and how you are feeling. There may be some tests (blood, cardio, etc.) that would be worthwhile and provide some answers.
    Some guys they just give up living and start dying little by little, piece by piece. Some guys come home from work and wash up and go racin’ in the street. (Bruce Springsteen, 1978)

  14. #14
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    Re: Overdoing it

    Quote Originally Posted by ElaineK View Post
    J, there are two things I have had a difficult time accepting; however, I'm getting better at it:

    1. We all age at different rates. I have been dealing with the same issues as you this year, and I am 56. I have definitely aged more this year than in past years- or, at least it seems that way.

    It's easy to compare yourself to others in the same age group; however, if you are like me, you have been comparing yourself to BETTER swimmers in your age group who seem to keep getting personal best times at every meet. J, they are NOT the norm. They're just awesome freaks of nature! Take a look at Laura Val, for example. Go ahead and look her up if you don't recognize her name. Swimmers who compare themselves to her will only get depressed!

    If you are going to compare your 58 year old self to others your age, compare yourself to everybody! Look around, and you will realize your doing pretty darn well. Hey, for that matter, look up your event rankings (I looked up your 2016 ranking for 200 free, for example), and you will see there are plenty of people swimming a lot slower than you are, including one of my very own teammates who looks extremely fit; however, he is ranked near the bottom. There are probably plenty of those slower swimmers who are in worse shape than you and get even more exhausted. Just sayin'. There are probably also others that experienced what you have at 48 or 38 years old. Your body at 58 is telling you to lighten up your work load and back off. Listen to what it's telling you, and it will respond in kind. That brings me to #2:

    2. As you age, you will need to adjust your workouts accordingly, so you don't exhaust yourself. As the others have already said, your body needs more time to recover. Whaaaa! I hated accepting this! I LOVE to be in the pool, and if my body would let me, I would train seven days per week. As it is, I swim six days; HOWEVER, I have really had to cut back on my yardage and intensity over the past few years--- especially this year. I refuse to cut back to less than six days; however, I am allowing myself play days, which include loafing around and even chatting with the noodlers (gasp!).

    What Quicksilver suggested in post #5 WORKS! I am inserting those easy days into my workouts now, whereas I used to go at it hard all six days each week. Yesterday, I took it easy. I did just drills and technique work for 1500 yards, and none of it was on the clock. I also chucked the dryland routine except for some light stretching and foam rolling.

    Today, as a result, I had an awesome workout and took 1 second off all my breaststroke 50's (at 200 pace).
    In addition, I swam a fly set and strung together tough IM sets I would have never been able to do otherwise. My dryland went a lot better, too, and I had a ton of energy throughout my entire workout.

    Try it for yourself, and you will see it works! Most of all, don't be hard on yourself, ok?



    This is true. My problem was I also took off several years and the 2nd period I did some intense swimming for three years I quit again in my late 40's and didn't start working out again until 59. I can't do much workouts compared to many master swimmers my age. Instead of looking at the qualifying times for masters swimmers. I looked at the standard times for national senior Olympics which I much closer to than masters nationals. For example, I'm almost 13 seconds off of master nationals in the 100 yard breaststroke which is 1:37.7 while I did 1:50.3. The second time in National Senior Olympics is a 1:45.7. So, I less than 5 seconds off. There are other ways to measure how good you are. Also, I have gotten my self real tired by swimming 100 yard breastsroke or I'm in workouts around 2.01 to 2:03 in workouts. I think this helped me in the 100 yard breaststroke and 200 yard I'm to swim closed to race pace but as everyone states you need to have some days of easy swim to recover or changed yardage one week do more yardage at moderate pace and another week do less yardage with more race pace training.

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