The triathlon training blog of Phil Barnes

Stretch marks in my shoulders

Two years ago, in Ottawa, I upped the swimming volume and included a weekly long swim. Usually on the order of 3,500 meters plus. All the swims were nicely structured such that it wasn't 3500 meters straight swimming, it was broken down into manageable sets, various strokes, included various drills to improve strength and lung-capacity.

I enjoyed these swims, and have endeavoured to re-create them, with success over the last couple of months. Although, I'm generally a good swimmer - these 'over-distance' sessions give me much needed confidence to tackle the swim portion of the triathlon.

Shortly after I first started these large evening swims, 2 years ago, I noticed significant changes in muscle tone around my back and shoulders. In fact, I was convinced I starting to get stretch marks close to my collar bones. My skin was often irritated: sore, red, and itchy.

Sadly, I wasn't getting 'huge' in the shoulders. My stretch marks were just scars from swimming incorrectly: Over a long distance, I would get lazy with my stroke, and instead of my arms properly entering the water at 10 o-clock and 2-o'clock, they were crossing over somewhere near midnight. This resulted in my collar bone area rubbing against my chin when I breathed. Being the manly man that I am, my 8 o'clock shadow was acting as sandpaper on my sensitive skin.

I remedied this by shaving before these sessions. And then it dawned on me (or donned on me - I never remember this one??) that I should just probably swim properly instead. So, I re-learned how to swim properly.

Last nights swim:
400 Warm Up
3 x (100 Pull, 50 Fr. Kick)
2 x 200 Free (Medium Pace)
3 x 100 IM
50 Easy
4 x 100 Fr, Bk, Fr, Bk
50 Easy
4 x 100 (25 Easy- 25 Med- 25 Easy- 25 Hard)
50 Easy
4 x 25 sprints on 00:30 *
400 Cool Down
3,000 m total

*4 sprints isn't enough. I should have done 8. I was dead-tired after 4, so 8 would have been a really good test. I would have done 8 - but the lane-conditions weren't conducive to this.