A Very Long Time In the Pool

images (2)Last week I mentioned that I participated in the Aqua Aerobics/Boot Camp class at my pool as it preceded my swim time and closed the pool for an hour.  I have opted to join the class as it does provide a different kind of full body workout and gets me pumped up for my swim afterwards.  Last week when I tried the boot camp then ladder swim I was shooting for two one mile ladder sets but I fell short because I ran out of gas, I bonked hard.  Last night I was determined to get a set of one mile descending and a mile of ascending  ladder sets in after the hour boot camp.

The first thing I had to realize was this would take an hour to finish the boot camp workout and over an hour to do the two miles in ladder format.  This means I had to think out the nutrition a bit more to give me more than enough fuel.  Like last time I ate a cliff bar before the boot camp and took a gel afterwards.  But, this time I also ate a cliff bar after the boot camp class.  I was thinking along the lines that the cliff bar would take at least thirty minutes to process and the gel would give close to immediate fuel.  That would give me the energy I needed to go for an extra hour to two hours longer.

I started my session with a cliff bar while I got changed and headed to the pool to be yelled into shape for an hour.  It was a good cardio and full body workout, but it was very heavy upper body this evening, not a great omen for swimming two miles.  I pushed through it and had fun with the group workout.  As soon as it was over I took dibs on my lane and sat at the edge of the pool and wolfed down a cliff bar.  I wanted to give it a little time to start processing so I took my time.  After the bar was consumed I then popped a gel and drank some water.  My arms and shoulders were sore from the aqua boot camp, but I felt stoked to start the first mile ladder set.

My ladder sets - right at 2 miles give or take a 100 which I did not record.

My ladder sets – right at 2 miles give or take a 100 which I did not record.

The swimming felt good and I just focused on breathing and keeping my stroke long with full rotations.  Before I knew it I had finished the 500/400/300 and only had 200 and 100 meter swims remaining for the first set.  I finished the set and felt good.  I took an extra minute to get ready to start the ascending set.  Lat time I only finished six hundred meters of this set due to extreme hunger pains and the total feeling of hitting a wall.  My calf was cramping a bit so I dropped a Nuun tablet into my water and sipped a bit.

Then off I went to finish the ascending mile ladder.  My shoulders felt a bit heavy and sore from the earlier workout.  I pushed it aside and just focused on completing the sets.  The fueling strategy worked and I finished the last 500 feeling strong and capable.  I even felt like I might want to shoot for another mile.  But I had been in the pool already for an hour of boot camp and an hour and a half of swimming, it was time to take 2 miles and go home.  After my shower, while getting dressed I suddenly was hit by a massive wave of nausea and hunger.  It was sudden and unexpected as I was feeling good moments before.  I needed food… my body had caught up to me.

I also ended up with a rash on my shoulder where my beard stubble had rubbed my skin raw.  Under a mile this was not a problem, over a mile and this became painful.  Not sure how to handle that in the future.  This is something I will have to figure out, painful but not worth quitting over.

In the end I swam two miles and completed an hour of total body and cardio boot camp in just over two hours and thirty minutes and my nutrition strategy paid off.  I think I am getting a handle on what my body requires for fuel.  Overall a great swim and workout session.  Til next time.



  1. Nice work, man! That is rockin it in the pool.

    1. Thank you. I am really digging the boot camp warm up, iron man 70.3 in 2014?

  2. Wow, that is a LOT of laps buddy! NICE WORK!

    1. Thanks. I have done the mile without the splits and I prefer the ladders as it gives me a chance to go faster. Of course the hour boot camp right before does not help on arm soreness. It was fun though.

      1. I’ve never done a “ladder” before, although I’ve done pyramids. Such crazy names.
        I’m swiping this workout for when I’m ready to swim again! Great idea, great workout.
        And, honestly, awesome times–very steady.

        1. From what I understand the ladder set would be one time ascending/descending but a pyramid would be both, so this two ladders make a pyramid? This was a really basic ladder I found on line that was easy to delineate in 25 meter/yard pools as it breaks down to 10/8/6/4/2 laps. The article says to play with how you want to break it down. With the descending you get a good warm up and then with the return ascending you get to work with tired arms for a long set at the end. I love it and I am thinking of ways to play with it a bit more. Of course my last triathlon will have a mile swim, so that is the primary focus.

          1. The pyramid is a speed workout, not distance. So the idea is to do sets of 50 yards (for longer distance folks it’d be 100s or more), starting out a a moderate but not slow pace for the first 50. My coach had me do 5×50 then back down again. I started around a 1:03 50, then got down to a :52 50. Then I did another 5, trying to match the :52, then each successive 50 slow it up until I matched the 1:03. A total of 10×50 pyramid.

            Part of the reason is to work on speed, the other is to truly understand your body and how it moves through water–what it takes for speed–, and finally to know what your pace is as you swim.

            When I was doing pyramids, I could feel when I was at a :55 and when I was at a 1:05, but I could not feel it as well by the end of the workout.

            It’s funny–at the end, he’d say, “Okay, slow it down and just swim relaxed” and I’d be under a minute again! It’s amazing what proper form will do.

            I cannot wait to swim again and try your ladder though!

  3. Great job brother!

  4. Great swim and I’m definitely going to give this workout a try this weekend in our 50m pool. Although I’m not sure I would even entertain it after a hour workout!

  5. Great work out – well done. And really consistent times on the swim, so you didn’t let the tiredness affect you in the second ladder.
    With the site shoulder, when open water swimming men are advised to put grease on shoulders for that reason. On the longer swims, you’re advised to do it even if you’re clean shaved – cos by the end of a 3-4 hour swim you might not be clean shaved!

  6. […] reinforced I could swim a mile through additional open water swims and long ladder sets in the pool(here and here […]

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