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Thread: Open water vs regular workout routine - balancing the two?

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    Open water vs regular workout routine - balancing the two?

    I know I'm not the only one who took up open water swimming this year, due to pools being closed. So a weird thing happened to me. I don't prefer it, but I see a lot of value in it. Getting in and maintaining a pace for over 3000 yards without stopping I think will help with stamina. Also since I can't make regular Masters practice, I'm finding a nice social group. So much so that I'm now thinking about doing a 10K in September.

    Alright, so here is what I have been able to do:
    Once per week, swim with group, upriver for about 30 minutes, then downriver. Current has gone from obscene to managable. I'm generally with the "lead" group, or the "long distance" group, however you want to describe those who go farther. Right now, we've been hitting 1600 yards upstream, and then returning. About 30 minutes up, 22 minutes back. In addition, I go do point to point swims, roughly 500 yards apart, once, maybe twice per week. Total distance average 2000 yards. A second distance swim per week is not coming into play, Saturday night it was 3500 yards.

    In addition, I've been running 1-2x per week. Up to 4.5 miles on flat land, 3.5 on courses that require hard climbs. Try to get in a 13 mile single track mountain bike ride once per week, but that is weather dependent.

    Anyway, I still like the regular workouts, and I still follow the ones that Swimdogs (how do you "tag" people so they see they are mentioned - I'd like his input) used to post a few years ago (okay......well I did until early March). I may be able to gain access to a pool in the next couple of weeks.

    So....anyone else trying to mix both open water and regular workouts? If so, how do you balance? I'd like to displace my running

    Side note....there is a 100M pool I will be able to swim in occasionally. So, if I'm tracking my workouts, is that a "pool" swim, or an "open water" swim Really only half kidding.......

    Again, for thsoe who like both, how do you balance the two? Should I be punting on conventional workouts for now and try to focus on open water workouts to prepare for the 10K?

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    Very Active Member flystorms's Avatar
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    Re: Open water vs regular workout routine - balancing the tw

    Hey King! Great to hear from you. It sounds like you have a well-rounded, cross-training program going on, taking advantage of what you can do during the pool shutdown.

    For the balance between the two swimming functions, I'd suggest using your pool time for managing pace and getting the feel for a solid pace. In open water, something you can do to work on speed is do some fartleks like you do with running by building in some sprints by x strokes. For instance, once you get warmed up, you can do 20 strokes at a sprint pace, and 20 at recovery. Then do 30 strokes fast, 30 recovery, etc. Or even 10 fast, 50 slow, 20 fast, 40 slow, 30 fast, 30 slow, etc. This can break up the monotony of a long distance. Or you could also do some speed work on your 500yd point to point swims.
    Last edited by flystorms; July 1st, 2020 at 09:49 AM.
    Kari Kennedy

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    Re: Open water vs regular workout routine - balancing the tw

    Sorry, wasn't really clear in my question! So assuming I get access to a pool soon, the question (okay, group of them) is how much time do I spend doing open water versus regular workouts? Or should I just do normal workouts in the pool, and pull back to doing the 1-2 group open water swims per week?

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    Very Active Member srcoyote's Avatar
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    Re: Open water vs regular workout routine - balancing the tw

    Others may have an opinion, but I'm not certain that it matters. I only train in pools and only enter open water events. The value to training in open water is in practicing sighting and the line you take. So often in open water events, I've beaten pool swimmers who are faster than I by taking better lines from buoy to buoy. That wasn't the case in my first few open water events because training in pools doesn't create a realistic open water feel.

    In training in the pool, my open water swimming got much better by working in sprint sets on occasion rather than just swimming long distances in the pool.

    I don't really have the opportunity to train in open water, but if I did, I'd still probably train maybe one workout a week in open water and the rest in a pool.

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    Re: Open water vs regular workout routine - balancing the tw

    Like srcoyote, my workouts have been almost all pool work and my events are all open water.I'd do three workouts a week (which seemed to be optimal, once I got past 50 y.o.). One would be a distance workout, as long as 3 miles or so, one workout would be "pacing, like a timed mile or occasionally a timed 1.5 mi., and one workout would be 100 yard or 200 yard intervals.The chaos of my sprints would somehow prepare me a little for open water. At least in my imagination it would.

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    Very Active Member flystorms's Avatar
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    Re: Open water vs regular workout routine - balancing the tw

    Ah, yes. That's a different interpretation of the question, sorry. I agree with Coyote on this one. Once or twice a week is fine and definitely do it for the sighting and getting used to the chop of OW. I'd suggest making your long swim each week in the OW as you build up to the 10k. Will you need a paddler for the 10k? If so, make sure you get some training sessions with her/him so you two are in synch on your needs and plans.
    Kari Kennedy

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    Very Active Member pwb's Avatar
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    Re: Open water vs regular workout routine - balancing the tw

    Quote Originally Posted by 67King View Post
    Sorry, wasn't really clear in my question! So assuming I get access to a pool soon, the question (okay, group of them) is how much time do I spend doing open water versus regular workouts? Or should I just do normal workouts in the pool, and pull back to doing the 1-2 group open water swims per week?
    This is my first time ever training in open water; like many others said, before I just trained in a pool and would then race open water. Two thoughts on this:
    • From my understanding, most of the elite/Olympic level 10K OW swimmers do the vast, vast majority of their training in the pool. Part of that might just be access to pools (historically) being easier and safer than OW venues, but I think the main reason is that pacing is so important to them. So, if your aim is to RACE open water, take a tip from the pros and primarily train in the pool.
    • As for me moving forward, I moved to Canada about 18 months ago and discovered, last summer, three interesting things about the masters scene at least here in Ontario:
      • Pretty much no pool meets from June through August, but gobs of open water events all around this province and neighboring Quebec
      • My small (~15 person) masters team actually shuts down (even in pre-COVID times) from late June through mid-September as everyone spends time outside. We don't have any outdoor pools in our community, but are blessed with lots of lakes ... and many of the swimmers on my team are primarily triathletes when it comes to competition.
      • So, this year and in the future, I plan to divert to primarily lake swimming in the summer time, going to pools only when ligthning/timing or other reasons prohibit me getting in a lake.


    Quote Originally Posted by 67King View Post
    ...Side note....there is a 100M pool I will be able to swim in occasionally. So, if I'm tracking my workouts, is that a "pool" swim, or an "open water" swim Really only half kidding...
    I've swum in Kitsilano Pool in Vancouver which is 137 meters long. They have a couple of "lanes" but no ropes and lots of different speeds of swimmers. While the water is clear like a pool, my swim stroke there and sigthing is like being in open water. I call it open water from a workout style standpoint.

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