Working Up

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A few weeks ago, I spotted this sign at the pool:

photo (87)

My new goal is to make my weekly ‘long swim’ a mile.  Currently, I swim 1/2 a mile or a little further twice a week, so I think a mile is a reasonable goal. 


Although I definitely need to increase my physical stamina, swimming a mile is more of a mental challenge for me.  That’s a LONG time in the pool (I know some of you regularly swim 3,000 meters as your short swims, but to me – a mile is faaaaar!).  So today, I drew on my running experience and used a fun little trick to work my way up to 3/4 mile. 


Here’s what I did:  Normally, I swim 40 lengths and think of 20 lengths as my ‘halfway’ point.  So working up to 54 lengths seems really hard, just like going from running 3.0 miles to 5.0 – your old halfway point is just getting started!  Today, I decided to view the workout in much smaller 10 length chunks, giving myself permission to rest at the end of every chunk.  I never felt overwhelmed and ‘so far away’ from my goal.  The workout fleeeew by – even though my arms were sore from the end!


Snack was pumpkin seeds and OJ.  I recently tested low in iron (pretty common in pregnancy, especially for vegetarians) so I’m trying to eat more iron-rich foods – like pumpkin seeds – in conjunction with orange juice, as the Vitamin C helps your body absorb the iron, according to my doc.


And lunch included a big salad with homemade nachos.  Mmm.



What mind tricks do you use to make increasing distance in any sport a bit easier?



  • chelsey @ clean eating chelsey January 21, 2012, 1:57 pm

    I know when I’m running I play the “I’m going to run to x” and then pick something new when I get there!

  • kwithme January 21, 2012, 2:02 pm

    My fave for increasing distance running is to pick a new but somewhat familiar route or to pick up a partner for the additional distance. I inadvertanly ran 4.5 miles this way. A (slower) neighbor joined me at 2.5 miles and it was a pretty day so I just kept going for her workout.

    In the pool, I change the counting like you did. Usually, I just swim front crawl (freestyle), but will switch to an alternate stroke every 5 for 10 laps to change it up.

  • Chloe (In Fine Feather) January 21, 2012, 2:08 pm

    A mile IS far, especially when you’re swimming it! I remember swimming a mile and being so proud of myself because I had started off not being able to swim more than 200 yards straight. I love swimming for that reason – I see great improvements in a short period of time!

  • kathleen @ the daily crumb January 21, 2012, 2:37 pm

    i reward myself! usually with starbucks… it’s amazing what a peppermint misto will inspire me to do 🙂

  • Hillary January 21, 2012, 2:39 pm

    I have a LOT of trouble mentally adjusting to the increase in distance when I’m training for a race. I am constantly psyching myself out, telling myself things like “Ugh. You have another 5k to run.” “Last week, you were done and you still have X number of miles to go,” etc. Physically, I’m usually fine—but I mentally exhaust myself!

    Like you, I’ve been trying to break my long workouts into chunks, giving myself permission to take a water/stretch break. It definitely helps a little!

  • Stephanie C January 21, 2012, 2:46 pm

    I’ve tested low in iron before (and had to take supplements), but I’ve been cooking on iron-skillets for the majority of my marriage (almost 5 years) and I haven’t tested low since!

    • Jessie @ Graze With Me January 21, 2012, 3:18 pm

      I was going to add that tip as well! Cast iron skillets are a great way to add iron into foods. My baby girl will be starting solids soon & babies need iron starting at 6 months so I’ll be cooking her foods in one!

      • CaitlinHTP January 22, 2012, 9:55 am

        Great tip. Will def do this!

  • Katie @ cooklaughmove January 21, 2012, 2:49 pm

    When running, I only let myself check my watch every XX songs and then I try to bump it up (like whichever is further, the end of the 4th song or the next turn).

    Or I count cars and can only look at my watch after 7 white cars have passed.

    The cars one works well when my I REALLY want to quit, it engages my mind and helps me stop thinking about stopping.

  • Amelia January 21, 2012, 2:53 pm

    In competitive swimming, a mile distance is always 66 laps in short course. I wonder why your pool has it calculated to be 72 laps…

    • CaitlinHTP January 22, 2012, 9:56 am

      Is your pool meters or yards?

  • Army Amy* January 21, 2012, 3:03 pm

    I tackle new distances by distracting myself. I’ll put my ipod on shuffle, write blog posts in my mind, or ask a running buddy (if I’m not solo) tons of questions. I don’t know that any of those ideas would translate to the pool. Good luck with your swimming goals!*

  • Katie @ Peace Love & Oats January 21, 2012, 3:04 pm

    Definitely breaking things down into small chuncks helps! And I give myself a little cheer each time I reach one!

  • Ali January 21, 2012, 3:05 pm

    I am training to walk a half marathon and now that I am in the 8+ mile area, I find the walks sooooo long when I have to do them at the indoor track or the treadmill (I live in WI, there’s no walking outside right now!). I typically will break the walk down into 3-6 chunks and tell myself after each chunk that I’ve done X amount and now I just have to do it X more times. Each chunk is usually easy and manageable and it keeps my mind off how long of a distance it really is.

    I also do a lot of math in my head (the past mile took me X amount of time so I’m averaging X mph; I’m moving at X number of minutes per lab so I will take X amount of time to finish this mile). Makes the time go much faster (because it takes me so long to do the math) and is good to keep my mind sharp. 🙂

    • CaitlinHTP January 22, 2012, 9:56 am

      I try to do math in my head to keep myself busy but I am SOOOOOOOOOOOO bad at math LOL

  • Lindsay @ Running the Windy City January 21, 2012, 3:10 pm

    For running I definitely do the halfway point thing, especially for really long runs. Like for a 20 mile run I’ll run 10 miles in one direction and turn around then, that way when I turn around I know I’m already half way done and have to run 10 miles to make it home.

    For swimming I like to do intervals, I think that breaks it up nicely so instead of counting laps until I reach a mile, I count laps until I swim a 200 and I’ll switch speeds or strokes. So much easier on the mind 🙂

  • Sarah January 21, 2012, 3:11 pm

    That 10 lap trick is exactly how I get through swims! I actually haven’t been swimming in a while, but last year I was a lot because I couldn’t run from an injury. Eventually I stopped taking breaks at the 10 lap marks, but just having that smaller goal to look forward too is what got me through. Also, since I couldn’t have an iPod obviously, I would sing songs in my head (to the rhythm of my strokes) if I needed that distraction. Though often, I just sort of zone out while swimming. Swimming comes much more naturally to me though. I hadn’t run in two years because of my injury, and I’ve finally worked up to being able to do a 5k, but it’s really hard for me still.

  • Allison January 21, 2012, 3:11 pm

    I have iron deficiency anemia so more often than not my iron levels are low… I initially had to have iron IV treatments [1 dose every other day for 5 days] and then was put on an iron pill but it was too rough on my stomach so I stopped. Nowadays I just try to incorporate iron-rich foods into my diet and so far it’s been working!

  • KaraHadley January 21, 2012, 3:38 pm

    I break a longer workout up, too! It makes things phenomenally more manageable.

  • Deva @ Deva by Definition January 21, 2012, 3:42 pm

    I’m training for my first half marathon right now, and right now my long runs are getting longer and longer. I plan out a running route that makes it almost impossible for me to be able to cut it short, which is helpful, but I’m looking at each increase in mileage as an awesome achievement!

  • Victoria (District Chocoholic) January 21, 2012, 3:57 pm

    You’ll be banging out 10,000 meter swims like it’s nothing in no time.

  • Devon @FastFoodie January 21, 2012, 4:03 pm

    I run ultras and some of the course I do are on loop courses. I never try to wrap my mind around the entire distance. Instead of think of it in terms of making through a certain loop or getting to a certain aid station. I find it much easier to get through a race if I am thinking “I get to see my family/crew at mile 34” then thinking “I have 100 miles to go!”. Small chunks or small rewards work for me (sometimes it is: I get to drink a cup of coke at 3/4th of the ay through the race). Small bits help so much.

  • Anna January 21, 2012, 4:32 pm

    For swimming I like to break my workouts into 500m, so 10 laps. I’ll do specific and different intervals in each, so like for 10 laps I’ll swim up fast and back slow. Then 10 laps I’ll use a pull buoy or kickboard. Then for 10 laps I’ll do full lap fast and 1 lap slow. Breaking it up helps!

  • Annette @ EnjoyYourHealthyLife January 21, 2012, 5:02 pm

    I love mind tricks–I always think about how awesome I’ll feel, and how cool it will be to have new “arms” or “back” etc to push me through the hard parts. I think your idea is great–just brekaing it into small chunks!

  • Laine January 21, 2012, 5:09 pm

    I’m trying to increase the time that I meditate, which is like a distance sport! I am going from 10 to 15 to 20 minutes. I have a timer that sounds a bell at 5 minute intervals, so really I just have to go 5 minutes, then 5 more, then 5 more. It works well and the bell brings me back from the inevitable mind wanderings.

  • Michelle @ A Healthy Mrs January 21, 2012, 5:34 pm

    You are a swimming machine! 🙂

  • Corrie Anne January 21, 2012, 6:30 pm

    That’s a great tip!! I need to work up really slowly. Running is a little easier because I can distract myself with tv!! Lol.

  • Megan @ runridelove January 21, 2012, 11:12 pm

    When im trying to increase running distance and am worried im not up to it, iI really like having a loop that I know well, 1.5 to 2 miles long. Then, it’s easier to tell myself to do ‘just one more loop’ or even half a loop to add on more miles. I know some people hate running the same loop over (my bf included so I can only use this trick running alone!)but I find I super comforting. I can zone out, and I have the safety net of knowing I’m never very far from home.

  • Khushboo January 21, 2012, 11:54 pm

    I always break my longer workouts in chunks – so much less overwhelming!

  • Tasha - The Clean Eating Mama January 21, 2012, 11:55 pm

    Breaking up long workouts is the way to go! Also, from the previous post, I am so glad you were able to get a good nights sleep!!! I am sure you woke up so refreshed!

  • Jessica @ The Process of Healing January 22, 2012, 12:37 am

    I love swimming but it bores me… I miss listening to music like I do when running!

  • Amy Q January 22, 2012, 8:48 am

    That “smaller chunk with permission to quit” trick works like a charm for me in the pool, too! Congrats to you for getting in so many good workouts as a pregnant mom. You are getting closer every day to the BEST day ever– better than any vacation, wedding, graduation or event— because unlike those things, the baby comes and NEVER leaves! It’s the gift that keeps on giving… are gonna LOVE it. Happy Sunday to you from the frigid cold north. (currently -5F)

    • CaitlinHTP January 22, 2012, 9:56 am

      I can’t wait for the birth day!!!!

  • Anne P January 22, 2012, 8:50 am

    I’m a huge fan of doing out and back runs because I can pretend the run is half what it really is – e.g. a 10 miler becomes “just run 5 miles, then you get to turn around”! Silly, but it works for me. 🙂 Now I want to go running – it’s so yucky outside here!

  • Anna January 22, 2012, 9:35 am

    Wow, 3/4 mile swimming…go girl!

    Whenever I run a distance I always end up putting it in the number of laps around the track at my old high school (which is interesting, because the only time I ever “ran” around it was in the running portion of PE class, where I essentially speedwalked for my initial test so I would have a super easy time to beat and the end of the portion).

    Anyways, you swam THREE TIMES around the track! Only one more (track) lap to go and you’re at a mile! Haha.

  • Amber K January 22, 2012, 2:17 pm

    I love breaking things down into smaller chunks too. It works with weight loss and workouts!

  • Emily January 22, 2012, 6:42 pm

    I am glad you had a swimming post. I think I needed a swimming post to post this particular note. I signed up for a tri! It’ll be my first and its indoor, so it is just a 10 minute swim (as far as you can), 20 minute bike (on a spin bike), and a 10 minute treadmill run. Even though I am not a great swimmer yet, in ANY way, I figure its only 10 minutes, and its not like I am gunning to win. I just want to swim for 10 minutes!

    • CaitlinHTP January 22, 2012, 7:20 pm

      YAY! You can totes do it 🙂 Good luck!

  • Hannah (Hannah Lives) January 23, 2012, 11:52 pm

    If you’re trying to up you iron levels cut down on dairy a bit. Lactate blocks the absorption of iron so have dairy with or right after your iron-rich food won’t be doing you any good! But I am no expert! That is just what my doc tells me!

    • CaitlinHTP January 24, 2012, 9:30 am

      I was told that it’s the timing of calcium that matters the most – so if you take an iron supplement, don’t eat yogurt within three hours of the supplement. Who knows, though!?

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