Under-Estimating 10 km Recovery

I am not a marathon runner. I’ve heard though that it takes some time to recover properly from that kind of running. Instead I’ve become a marathon swimmer these past couple years- by the definition of swimming 5km or longer. I took it for granted being able to swim 5-7 km comfortably, regularly, at race pace and recover within a day.

But this last month I bumped up my range significantly, with 9+km swims each Monday. Doing this at the start of the week of being a swim coach in and out of the hot sun and cool water day-after-day with in-sufficient sleep… I just got wiped out. Only today, over 2 weeks later, after taking a benedryl and sleeping for 11 hours do I feel like I have my body back.

After each long swim I ate as often as I felt hungry and rested from swimming the next day, but I failed in making sufficient restful recovery each night and got sick and exhausted because of it. Almost 3 hours of swimming unto energy depletion emptied my reserves to a dangerously low level and I just didn’t realize that it should take a few days to put this all back. It’s been a few years since I did crazy long tri-geek rides and multi-runs (and in a body that was 17 years younger too) so I’ve forgotten or just didn’t know any better then either.

It was insightful to go without breakfast before these swims to see how my body would respond, and I satisfied with what I found, now it’s time to take care of myself and give me a better fuel-up before so I don’t crash so hard after.

My lessons to learn in recovering from a marathon swim:

  • SLEEP, long and often
  • FEED, before, during and after the swim
  • WATER- it would be hard to drink too much
  • MEDITATE- prayer and contemplation to slow things down and make better decisions about my pace of life

My goal this summer is 12 km or up to 3.5 hours. It’s only getting hotter now in sun and in sea so if I don’t come across an exceptional sunrise time soon, I may have to prepare to do it in September or later when everything starts cooling down again.


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