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Pools have walls.


Lakes do not.

On Tuesday and Thursdays, my pool changes the layout of the lanes so you can swim 50 meter lengths instead of 25 yard length.   That means that today, I had to swim more than double the normal distance between walls.  I’ve never swam in a pool that long before! 


I think one of the reasons I panic in lakes (as evidenced in this crash-and-burn Sprint triathlon and in this not-as-bad-but-almost-as-bad Olympic triathlon) is I get used to hanging out on the walls during practice swims.  And then I get to the lake, and there’s no walls to rest on. 


Well, I was also freaking out because of the alligator situation.  But that’s not an issue in Charlotte’s lakes, thank goodness.


So, in light of the realization about the walls, I have a VERY important question for all the confident swimmers out there.  How do I build up swim endurance and swim a strong 750 meters straight through in a scary lake?


I know I can always take floating breaks, but I’d like to feel confident that I can do the whole thing, slow and steady, without floating.


PS – Today’s swim:  1,300 meters (including lots of wall breaks!).



  • Jen April 21, 2011, 4:16 pm

    When I was training for the Madison IM, I practiced swimming without ever touching the walls. I didn’t kick off of them or touch them with my hands. I also spent a lot of time in the lakes practicing. There’s nothing better than real lake time.

    • Caitlin April 21, 2011, 6:44 pm

      I think you’re right – I need to get into a lake!

  • Victoria April 21, 2011, 4:16 pm

    you should work on not taking breaks at each wall. Work on swimming 50 meters without swimming and slowly add lengths. Your lungs will get stronger and you’ll be able to swim further without stopping. Plus your body will get stronger to swim longer, too!

  • Melanie @ Trial By Trail April 21, 2011, 4:19 pm

    Does it help at all when you are wading? It helps me to stop sometimes and just wade in place a little. Can you do any practice swims in a lake but go for shorter distances to build up to 750 meters? I know lakes can be so intimidating! You are inspiring me to start swimming again. 🙂

  • Lili April 21, 2011, 4:22 pm


    Sorry, no swimming tips at this time…i was a swimmer back in the high school days…but I’ve been really rusty after that. 😉

  • Holly @ The Runny Egg April 21, 2011, 4:26 pm

    Sorry I have no swimming tips, but I would think that if you worked on not resting on the walls that would help. I’m sure I’d rely on those resting times too!

  • Larissa April 21, 2011, 4:26 pm

    when you get tired in a sprint, i usually feel like its because i need a breathing break or something so i just flip on to my back and kick for a bit.

    • Caitlin April 21, 2011, 6:45 pm

      Floating is ok! *repeats to myself over and over*

      • Molly April 21, 2011, 7:07 pm

        Just switch to breast stroke for a few strokes! That way you’re still moving, but you can look around and breathe!

        • Rae April 22, 2011, 10:10 am

          Or backstroke so you can breath and chill-just make sure youre not around a million people 😛 Can you wear a wetsuit? That calms me because i KNOW I float!

      • Caitlin April 22, 2011, 11:10 pm

        No wetsuits allowed – wah!

  • Lisa Fine April 21, 2011, 4:27 pm

    My advice? Practice in a lake. The only way to get over the fear is to swim in a lake – one that’s alligator free, and possibly as long as the distance you’re going to be swimming.

    A pool is just too different from a lake for it to be your only training place. It’s like running – you have to run outside to train for a race, not just on a treadmill.

    Good luck!

  • Angela (Oh She Glows) April 21, 2011, 4:29 pm

    We had the same issue with the walls vs open water. We only had 1 open water swim before the race and it was nothing like our pool training. I think that is why I freaked out. Thankfully the wetsuit was a bit buoyant, so I could stop and tread water a bit when I couldn’t breathe.

    We tried not to stop in between pool lengths as much as possible…but I dont think that was enough to prepare us.

    If I could do it over again I would have joined an open water swimming group that swims in the lake every Saturday morning so I would have had at least 8 open water swims before the race.

  • Tami April 21, 2011, 4:30 pm

    I think you some how REALLY need to train outside in open water to get over your fears

    Why are you stopping at the walls? Are you tired or do you get scared?

    Build up to longer swims… 50 straight then 100 and so on

    • Caitlin April 21, 2011, 6:45 pm

      I get tired and scared. LOL

  • Ker April 21, 2011, 4:30 pm

    You could achieve your yardage by swimming a pyramid to build your endurance. For example yesterday my workout was 300 warm up, 100 swim, break, 200, break, 300, break, 400, break, 500, break, 400, break, 300, break, 200, break, 100, cool down (200yds), each break being about 30 seconds. This could easily be modified to much shorter distances to help you slowly build your endurance and confidence with longer distances.

    • Caitlin April 21, 2011, 6:46 pm

      Awesomesauce. I’m going to do this next week for sure. Well, not that long. I cannot believe you can swim 3000 yards!

  • Sarena (The Non Dairy Queen) April 21, 2011, 4:31 pm

    That’s interesting. I never really thought of that. I’m curious to read the answers to this one.

  • Sara April 21, 2011, 4:31 pm

    As an exlifeguard I sometimes had to swim with kids and play with them in the “deep end” which was pretty exhausting at times. BUT the one thing that saved me (and still does) is my ability to comfortably tread water. I can tread for hours! I’ve finally mastered how to just relax while doing so and it’s so relaxing that I feel I can stop, tread water, catch my breath, and then swim on. Sort of like an active recovery. Perhaps you can try working on your water treading skills which will in turn make you more comfortable in the water in general so you don’t panic when you’re in foreign/scary water 🙂

    P.S. I have a HUGE fear of things touching my ankles in water (and in general) especially when I can’t see them in not clear water so I totally understand your heebie geebies 😛

    • Caitlin April 21, 2011, 6:46 pm

      Hahah love it about the ankles.

  • Cait @ Beyond Bananas April 21, 2011, 4:31 pm

    Hahah..when I first read this.. I thought your post was going to be about crashing into walls while you were swimming. Since I am not a swimmer.. when I do get in the pool to give a try..the walls are what keep me going. Must. Get. To. Wall.

  • Mary April 21, 2011, 4:32 pm

    dumb question, but how do you turn? Are you flip-turning or coming up & grasping the edge every time? Perhaps if you get used to using only flip turns your pool swim will more closely emulate a lake swim & you will get comfortable with longer, more continuous distances. Good luck!

    • Caitlin April 21, 2011, 6:47 pm

      I just hold onto the wall and turn around. I cannot flip turn!!! How do I do it?

      • Ker April 21, 2011, 6:55 pm

        Flip-turning will change your life!!!!

        The most important thing is to remember to bring your arms straight down, and then straight up into streamline again without flailing them about in the water.

        • Caitlin April 21, 2011, 7:03 pm

          Nice. Thanks!

  • Mai April 21, 2011, 4:33 pm

    My advice would-be to learn to do a flip turn, you’ll get to kick off the wall, but you won’t be taking any kind of break and your body will get used to swimming continually. Work in sets, do 100, then 150, 200 etc, and like everyor said, do ad many open water swims ad possible.

    Hope that helps.

    • Caitlin April 21, 2011, 7:02 pm

      I’m going to learn to flip. New goal!

      • Phoebe April 22, 2011, 6:21 am

        If you manage to learn to flip turn without having someone actually teach you how to do it in the water with you, please please describe it in great detail on the blog. This request is for totally selfish reasons!

  • Mary (What's Cookin' with Mary) April 21, 2011, 4:33 pm

    I swam comptetatively for years, so it’s been a while since I’ve reached into that memory bank, but I think learning to egg beater really well will help. I learned how to do this when I started playing waterpolo. I just googled ‘how to egg beater’ and there’s a bunch of info out there. I used to kinda sorta be scared of the deep end when I was really young and we’d have meets at really deep pools. Once I learned how to egg beater, that just went away… not sure why, but I’m thinking maybe bc I knew no matter what I wouldn’t get too tired and sink. Also, I think once I was swimming long distances w.o stopping (building to that slowly), I became more confident in my skillz … These aren’t great tips, but it’s what I got 😉 ..hope it helps some.

    • Caitlin April 21, 2011, 7:44 pm

      Egg beater looks fun! LOL

  • jeannie April 21, 2011, 4:35 pm

    My brother is an awesome swimmer and did a few tris — so when I was training for my first sprint tri the BEST piece of advice he gave me was this:
    Don’t PUSH off the walls or stop at them when doing training swims in a pool.
    So I’d swim as much as I could witout stopping/resting/pushing off… because that’s what you have to do in an open water swim. Slowly but surely I built up my strength. You’ve GOT this.

    And I did a tri in Charlotte — the lakes there are BEAUTIFUL and nothing scary in them. WOOO! Keep up the great work 🙂

  • Michelle April 21, 2011, 4:35 pm

    I have the same fears – I have yet to do a big open water swim, and it seems scary. What I do tell myself is that 1) I know I can tread water and 2) I know I can keep moving forward without doing a full freestyle stroke. Doggy paddle, breast stroke, flip over and back stroke, whatever. You can get your breath and wits about you without stopping!

  • Jessica April 21, 2011, 4:35 pm

    I’m EXTREMELY similar to you with swimming. During my first Tri last year, I spent most a good chunk of time doing sidestroke because I would freak out in open water.

    My suggestion, from someone who can’t do flip turns, is that when you get to the wall, tread water to turn yourself around and don’t kick off the wall (others have said this, too). Also, try mid pool starts, even if you walk out to the middle. Start you swim from there, they taught my that in my tri swim classes. Also, TRY To swim outside at least a couple times before race day. I’m still super slow (I’m blame in on my short legs, ha) but I can do it mostly freestyle now. Only when I get scared do I have to do sidestroke.

    Also, as I mentioned, when I get tired or scared, I turn to the sidestroke. I find it faster than breaststroke when you need to catch your breathe and unlike floating, you are still moving forward at a good pace.

    I hope this helps! GOOD LUCK!

    • Liz April 21, 2011, 5:27 pm

      Good advice about the sidestroke. I will definitely try that!!! Thanks!

      • Caitlin April 21, 2011, 7:44 pm

        Great advice!

    • Laine April 21, 2011, 8:07 pm

      I love the sidestroke! I swim in the ocean in the summer, laps back and forth parallel to the shore, and most of the time I do the side stroke. My scissor kicks get me far!

  • Erin April 21, 2011, 4:37 pm

    I definitely agree with a lot of the other comments that you need to ween yourself off of the walls. I find that the best thing to do is tread water when I need a break. It would probably be helpful to include treading water as part of your swim routine so that you can tread for 3 – 5 minutes. Good luck!

  • Julia April 21, 2011, 4:37 pm

    practice in the lake if you can before the race. Also, I would say try to take a minimal number of wall breaks. On long swims, I swim slowly enough so I don’t crash and burn. Also, I will take back stroke or breast stroke breaks when I feel frazzled in the water. Swimming breast stroke really helps me calm down in races when I’m being tossed and turned and kicked and punched. Also, make sure you practice sighting! This is going to be especially important during race so that you don’t swim in a zig zag or swim off course and lose valuable time and energy. I usually sight ever 3 to 4 breaths. Good luck! You can do it! Just convince your mind that you love the water. That seemed to work for me!

    • Caitlin April 21, 2011, 7:45 pm

      I have been practicing sighting! It’s hard but I definitely learned the need for it at my last tri.

  • Victoria (District Chocoholic) April 21, 2011, 4:37 pm

    If you can’t do flip turns, just do a touch-and-go open turn.

    Oh, and Mary’s suggestion to eggbeater to become more comfortable with continuous activity in the water is a good one.

    • Caitlin April 21, 2011, 7:48 pm

      I can master that touch and go!

  • Kristen April 21, 2011, 4:39 pm

    I don’t have any tried and tested advice, but I think practice and training might be the answer. Just go farther without a rest each day…
    And I second the advice of getting in sone lake swims if possible.

  • chelsea April 21, 2011, 4:45 pm

    I have ZERO advice with swimming, however training your heart out could help.

  • k April 21, 2011, 4:47 pm

    The best prep will be to do open water training as the race gets closer. The only way to feel more confident and comfortable is to do it more. While you are still in the pool, work on not resting at the wall everytime. Start of saying you can rest every X laps, and then build up!

  • Megan April 21, 2011, 4:47 pm

    My best advice as a competitive swimmer for 14 years: Do NOT rest at walls. Touch and push off. If it gets tough, swim slower or don’t use your legs as much since they use more energy. If you must rest, make a time interval to rest. Only 30 seconds every 300 meters or something. Then decrease the resting time by 5 or 10 seconds every week. I also highly recommend you do some kind of set. (Don’t you get bored swimming so long at once?) I would suggest to do ladders to build endurance. Start at 100 meters, rest 15 seconds, then do 200 meters, rest 15 seconds, etc. Go up until you reach 500 and go back down. I did these all the time when my coaches wanted me to get back into “swimming” shape. They also did a lot of 200s (I don’t know why 200s but it always is that distance) on a certain interval. Swim an ‘easy’ 200, add 15 seconds to that time, and do 6-8 of them on that interval. Intervals are awesome at building endurance. Training for distance swimming is very different than training for distance running. Intervals intervals intervals!!

    As far as swimming in a lake is concerned, get in a lake more often. Maybe just try treading far away from a wall or shore. I think that would make you more comfortable. As far as swimming straight, that all comes with perfect form. And don’t be afraid to look up! Or find the person that looks the most “swimmer-ish” and follow him. haha. Hope this helps =)

    • Sara April 21, 2011, 5:38 pm

      Was looking for the facebook “like” button for this comment! They need one for blogs! Good advice.

    • Caitlin April 21, 2011, 7:50 pm

      This is a great comment. I need to just FORCE myself not to rest anymore.

      I don’t get bored because I’m concentrating so hard LOL

      • Sarah April 21, 2011, 10:34 pm

        I was totally about to say this–the best way to train yourself to swim straight through a lake that doesn’t have walls is not to use the walls when you swim. I don’t stop on the wall until I am done with my complete workout (I do stop to chug water if I am swimming longer than 35 minutes.) I am a strong swimmer, but I think it is doable even if you aren’t by working up to it. You should be able to handle it, especially with your strong cardio background as a runner. Make it a competition with yourself to see how long you can go without resting on the wall. This may require you to slow down initially so that you can sustain your breathing pattern without feeling panicky, but it should help in the long run with your triathlon training.

    • Megan April 22, 2011, 11:05 am

      I honestly think the hardest part from transitioning from running to swimming and vice versa is the breathing. It is so different! (Wait…I don’t have to hold my breath when I run?) Maybe work your breathing pattern. If you keep going to the pool it should come with time and should feel fairly natural.

  • Mary @ Bites and Bliss April 21, 2011, 4:50 pm

    Lakes definitely scare the bajeezus out of me, too!! I think it’s more of not being able to see what’s in them that creeps me out more than them having larger limits, though..

  • Laura April 21, 2011, 4:55 pm

    My husband does triathlons and when he does his swim training in the pool he doesn’t touch the walls at all. When he gets to the end of the pool he just turns around!

  • Anne April 21, 2011, 5:17 pm

    once i get within a month of the event, i use one of my swims to do nearly the entire distance without a water or wall break. For me its not just resting, but its wetting my throat, so i need practice making it the distance without that too. I slow down and do it without worrying about time, just an efficient stroke and distance. that usually gives me the confidence i need to do some power swim workouts in the following weeks before the big day. you are a strong athlete, you just need to grab a well deserved confidence boost from the pool:)

    • Caitlin April 21, 2011, 7:51 pm


  • KatieTX April 21, 2011, 5:22 pm

    Backstroke is my life saver in triathlons….I actually usually backstroke 90% of the time. I get freaked out putting my face in dark water and I feel pretty strong backstroking. It gives you a nice way to breathe and looking at the blue sky is way better than face first in murky water. It is good for the pool when you want to rest as well. I need to start swimming again! I only swim when I am training for triathlons..which is none this year. Good luck! You got this!

  • Ellie@fitforthesoul April 21, 2011, 5:28 pm

    that’s a lot of swimming Caitlin!! hmmm KatieTX from above seems to have a great tip! that would be scary, not having any walls.

  • Shannon April 21, 2011, 5:29 pm

    It is really important to practice swimming in a long course pool, ocean, or lake when possible to try to mimic the course of a triathlon. You can always switch to different strokes when doing a triathlon too to give certain muscles a rest

  • Laura @ MyReasontoRun April 21, 2011, 5:34 pm

    ive got the same concerns. never done an OWS, but have a 750yd swim at my next tri (jetton park tri) im going to do a practice swim this weekend. very VERY scared. oh, and not to freak you out, but in years past there were alligator sitings in the charlotte area….lake wylie i believe.

    • Caitlin April 21, 2011, 7:52 pm

      Shhh I prefer not to know! 🙂

  • Lisa April 21, 2011, 5:57 pm

    Luckily I’m at a place in my swimming now that I don’t take breaks. I swim my 1.5 mile without stopping or resting but I can imagine that having to do that in a lake? I’d be nervous about what else was in there with me!

  • Suzanne April 21, 2011, 6:03 pm

    You have to practice in a lake. You could swim miles in a pool non stop and then freak out in a lake, as you have experienced. You need to do AT LEAST one lake swim before a tri. When you are in the water you have to make a conscious effort to keep your heart beating at a normal pace, breathe evenly, and don’t let yourself get freaked out. You can do it!

  • Kristin @ FoodFash April 21, 2011, 6:04 pm

    Growing up in Florida, lakes have ALWAYS grossed me out! Given the choice between salt water and lake water, salt water wins every time. Given the choice between no water and lake water, no water wins 🙂

  • presley April 21, 2011, 6:07 pm

    I am scared of lakes, the ocean… pretty much anything that’s not chlorinated. Maybe I can live vicariously through you 🙂

  • Annie@stronghealthyfit April 21, 2011, 6:19 pm

    I’d love to start swimming for fitness. I’ll get around to it at some point- it seems so daunting!

  • Susan April 21, 2011, 6:26 pm

    Like others have said, just don’t stop. I touch the wall and turn around, but I don’t push off with my feet. Sidestroke and backstroke, like others have mentioned, are also good for taking a rest. I had a bad swim at my last tri (.5 miles) and did about a quarter of it using the backstroke. I think if I hadn’t been practicing in open water, I may have had to quit.

    You really, really need to practice in open water. I’m doing a 70.3 in July and I just started swimming in the pool. Once the dam in the river is put up, I’ll be out there at least once a week to supplement my pool time. I know someone who only practiced in a pool and on race day, she freaked out in the water (even though she did a race the previous year) and had to be boated in.

    You can do it. I’m a wimp and not crazy about open water swims, but if you do them enough, they don’t seem as bad.

    • Caitlin April 21, 2011, 7:52 pm

      I promise I will practice outside too!

  • Kate (What Kate is Cooking) April 21, 2011, 6:41 pm

    We don’t really have lakes around here (at least none that we can swim in!) which is just as well because I am TERRIFIED of open bodies of water. All of the triathlons around here are done in the ocean- I could never do that!!

  • Chris H. April 21, 2011, 6:46 pm

    I love long course pools. The pool at Yale just went long course from short course and the transition while hard at first was great. It is easier to count laps and distance when one full lap equals 100 meters so 16 laps equal a mile. It also builds fitness for triathlons better.
    To become more comfortable in open water try blind swimming where you close your eyes and swim five strokes and then site, close your eyes, 5 strokes, then site.

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat April 21, 2011, 7:00 pm

    When I used to swim competitively, I preferred short course season WAY more than long course! I’ve never tried an open water race so I am not quite sure how I’d cope… and I’d probably still be thinking about alligators, regardless of whether or not there was a situation!

  • Ashley April 21, 2011, 7:10 pm

    You just don’t stop. As a swimmer, I HIGHLY recommend learning to do a flip turn. It will make you SO much more efficient and eliminate the stopping problem. Ask your gym about booking a lesson. Learning a flip turn shouldn’t take more than one or two lessons, if you can do a somersault in the water (if you can’t, learn that skill first!). It’s totally worth it.

    • Caitlin April 21, 2011, 7:53 pm

      Oh I didn’t realize I could see if someone at the pool would teach me – good suggestion!

      • Ashley April 22, 2011, 12:31 am

        Yup – most swim instructors will do private lessons. Just ask if they have instructors on staff (most gyms do). If you tell the instructor that you just want to learn the one thing, it should be a quick teach.

        Good luck swimming!!

      • Amanda April 22, 2011, 9:48 pm

        I learned at my gym by just asking the guy in the lane next to me. He swam in high school and showed me how.

  • Jess@atasteofconfidence April 21, 2011, 7:17 pm

    Work on cutting down on breaks. Do a 50 without stopping one day, a 75 the next, a 100. Once you build up a little indurance, try to do your workout in sets. Tell yourself you are going to do a 200 warm up and don’t stop until you are done, and then time your break until you start your next “set.” And then try to cut down on the rest time, too.

  • Heidi Dietrich April 21, 2011, 7:32 pm

    I just wrote a health and fitness column on this topic. (How to get used to open water swimming) Check it out!

    • Caitlin April 21, 2011, 7:53 pm

      Great post!

  • Lara April 21, 2011, 7:35 pm

    I don’t flip turn but I’m really good about not hanging on the walls and have no problem with open water swims even though I never practice them. You need to *force* yourself to do ~1,000 meters with no stopping. If you can do flip turns that would probably help prevent stopping, but either way you just say “ok I’m going to go for as long as I can without stopping.” I think someone else suggested it, but float on your back if you need a break. That’s what most people do in triathlons if they’re panicking/tired, no shame there!

  • Allison @ Happy Tales April 21, 2011, 8:22 pm

    You are becoming quite the serious swimmer, Ms. Caitlin! I am loving seeing how you’re taking your running injury and turning in into such a positive growing experience for yourself. I know you’ve done tri’s before (at a time when I wasn’t reading blogs, so I never really saw training for it) and to see you get back into it is truly inspiring! Just beware of the nasty crud they have in that lake up at Latta Park.. a few years ago a guy came out with a fishing hook (with the line!)stuck in his foot! I didn’t witness it, but my coworkers who worked the event with me last year said they were scarred for life from seeing that. Yick!

  • Kelsey April 21, 2011, 8:29 pm

    Without reading the rest of the comments, here’s my two cents:

    If right now you are stopping and pausing at every wall, I think it will be much harder to swim a full 750 yards when you get to the race. That’s kind of like running and stopping every minute to rest – it’s not going to do as much for you. Try working up slowly to swimming 750 (or more!) yards straight with only a touch and go at each wall. Or just turn yourself around without even touching the wall!

    I don’t think it matters so much about becoming able to do flip turns – it would make you much quicker as a competitive swimmer for your training but you won’t have anywhere to do them in a lake! I think your focus should be on being able to swim longer distances without stopping. However, the key to doing flip turns is to just keep practicing! I’ve taught my friend how to swim and I tell her to do a flip turn at each wall, and if she messes it up to just keep going and try to fix whatever went wrong at the next wall! Definitely ask someone or watch a video to learn the concepts 🙂

    If you have access to a lake, then by all means try that out! Just make sure you don’t go alone or that there is a lifeguard on duty.

    While in the lake, I’ve found swimming is much more difficult due to the waves! When you need a break, try switching to side stroke – that way the waves aren’t crashing in your face when you are trying to breathe.

  • Danielle @ FoodosaurusRex April 21, 2011, 8:34 pm

    Try to slowly build up your laps without stopping… so each time you swim, try and add a lap before your next break. Some days, you might only get through one extra lap before taking a break, other days, you might tack on 2-3 by the end of your workout. It’s okay if you have to slow down, take a longer breath than you normally would, even do a little doggie paddle. Don’t get discouraged – everyone starts somewhere!

  • Sarra April 21, 2011, 8:39 pm

    you are bad-ass. 🙂

  • Courtney April 21, 2011, 8:41 pm

    Do you do flip turns? If so, you can flip further away from the wall so you don’t get to push off. I am a triathlete and that is what we do in practice sometimes. Also, some of my friends don’t know how to turn so they just grab the wall and go. it is really just a matter of building up the stamina.

  • Ash @ Good Taste Healthy Me April 21, 2011, 9:11 pm

    I have such a hard time with that too! I always hang onto the walls haha. But I’m just a bad swimmer anyway. Doggy paddle is how I roll! 😉

  • Liz April 21, 2011, 9:17 pm

    I swam competitively through college, so it’s almost difficult for me to answer the “how do you swim without stopping” question, but I think I can give you a few tips!

    First, try not to just jump in the pool with the goal of completing XX laps. Instead, try doing a 200 or 300 for time. You’re not going to hang on those walls if you’ve got a time to beat!

    Another great tip, when it comes to “long course” setups in pools (and open water as well) is to lengthen out your stroke. Your body will tire MUCH less quickly!

  • Alyssa April 21, 2011, 9:55 pm

    I just started reading your blog after my 2nd half marathon on April 10 (my first was the disney princess) and I love learning from you! Thank you very much for your advice – I am def considering putting more swimming into my training. I actually just went to the grocery store, but first jotted down a couple recipes that you suggested! I am interested to learn more how you began training for your very first full marathon. Hopefully I will be able to complete one someday! Again, thank you.

    • Caitlin April 21, 2011, 9:56 pm

      Thank you sweetie 🙂 Congrats on your half marys! 🙂

  • Kristen April 21, 2011, 10:11 pm

    if your worried about the lake, you could always bring a kickboard with you the first time. just to get use to it.

    • Cyndi April 21, 2011, 11:51 pm

      That’s what I was thinking – a kick board or even a noodle to just help to keep you going.

  • Kristy Hartnett April 21, 2011, 11:12 pm

    I am learning right along with you… well actually need to start the swim practice.. but I am too scared (of a lake or a pool! :-). I want to do a Sprint tri in August… just not sure I can manage the swim part! I am taking notes!

  • Ashley @ Feeding Ashley April 21, 2011, 11:28 pm

    I have no help for ya, but you’re right on taking breaks. I’ve only really swam in pools before, or tubed in what was possibly snake infested waters, though I never saw any.
    I swim for fun, but when I’m tired I taking floating and treading breaks. Maybe there are training plans on google for swimming?

  • Mac April 21, 2011, 11:59 pm

    Gosh I need to get into swimming

  • dana April 22, 2011, 12:17 am

    Funniest thing is that I have the opposite phobia of you…open water vs pool. I have an irrational fear of the deep-end of the pool and I don’t like being able to see under the water. Weird, I know. I actually would prefer to swim in murky open water!

    • Phoebe April 22, 2011, 6:27 am

      I’m scared of the deep end of the pool too. Not so bad when brightly lit or when there are tons of other swimmers in too but when it’s darker (like an outside pool or late at night at my college pool which had HUGE windows to the outside) I freak out and imagine there are animals in the pool with me. Not that I’m crazy about open water at night either.

      • dana April 22, 2011, 8:51 am

        Glad I’m not the only one! 🙂

  • Jess April 22, 2011, 8:58 am

    I’ve heard that not pushing off the walls between laps will help you build that endurance. Each time you push off a wall you speed up and give yourself extra power (something that you can’t do in the lake). Instead try touching the wall with your hand and then sort of turning around and going in the other directions without the push off. That might help!

  • Mindy April 22, 2011, 11:04 am

    These comments are so helpful. My fiance’ is teaching me how to properly do the strokes since I had a very bad leg and ankle break 10 weeks ago and am told by both my orthopedic surgeon and PT that I should not run anymore. I’m building up endurance and know these comments will help get me there.

  • Carolyn @Eat Well. Live Well. Be Well. April 22, 2011, 12:12 pm

    I just flip turn and go. Just don’t stop at the walls.

  • Bridget Corso April 22, 2011, 1:19 pm

    Hi Caitlin! I’m a long time reader but first time commenter :)I haven’t really read through the rest of the comments, so I apologize if my advice is redundant!
    I competitively swam from when I was 8 until I was 18, and the only way to build up endurance is to FORCE yourself to not stop. Learn to do a flip turn (I’m sure any lifeguard or swim instructor at your pool can give you some pointers – or there are also online tutorials!), or make it a point to swim so many yards/laps only touching the wall then going – no lingering rests. Also, keeping your stroke and kick steady while breathing normally is important to not NEED those breaks!

    I know you also talked about “resting” your legs during the swim portion of the race – I’ve been doing triathlons for a few years too and I find that when I try to do this (even though I’m a rather seasoned swimmer), I end up being more tired sometimes because your legs (especially for those who are primarily runners/bikers) are your strongest and largest muscles, and to focus ONLY on your arm strength will tire mostly your arms, yes, but any strain like that tires your respiratory system and your endurance as a whole. Just a tip I’ve found in my experience – I know different things work for different people, though!

    Keep up the amazing work! You’re quite the inspiring woman!


    • Emily April 22, 2011, 1:27 pm

      Agreed, try building up the distance you don’t stop every time you train. Just add on a couple more laps. Before you know it, a 750 will be very managable!

      Also, I wouldn’t recommend stopping either. I think it takes less energy to get into a steady rhythm than to stop and start during the event. If you work on building up the distance, you’ll be able to find your perfect rhythm!

      • Caitlin April 22, 2011, 11:11 pm

        These are great tips – thanks girls!

  • Recovering Food Addict April 25, 2011, 1:08 pm

    The best advice I found is to focus on the clouds in the sky when you turn to take a breath. It is very calming and it helps put things into perspective. Without fail, it always calms me down.

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