Jo Mitchinson blog: Planning my season up to the Festival

Jo Mitchinson plans her 2016 season. Open Water Festival blog

In her latest blog, elite Masters open water swimmer Jo Mitchinson plans her 2016 season as well as her early season fitness training sets and combining her schedule with those of her husband and daughter.

It’s hard to believe that nearly four weeks have passed since my first blog! I thought I’d share a brief summary of the past month and also look ahead to my racing schedule for the early part of the 2016 season.

My training over the last four weeks has been building up considerably. Long aerobic and threshold sets are now being completed so I have the base fitness to help me stay (hopefully) injury-free and recover as quickly as possible after races.

I love this sort of work. My favourite sort of training is the ‘brain switched off, arms switched on’ (5x800m off 11:30 or 10x400m off 5:45 for example) that most swimmers think of as boring!

My favourite sort of training is the ‘brain switched off, arms switched on’ that most swimmers think of as boring!

At the end of February I attended a training day with the other swimmers from Team Aqua Sphere UK 2016. There is something about meeting up with like-minded athletes (both OW swimmers and triathletes) that is hugely motivating and I returned from my weekend with them raring to get 2016 underway.

There have been a few mornings recently where the sun has been shining, hardly a cloud in the sky and the ‘Open Water Head Worm’ has been doing its best to entice me back into the lakes and rivers as soon as possible.

Last Thursday morning, as I drove to work from morning training (8x200m on 2:50, 6x200m backstroke on 3:15, 4x200m free on 3mins recovery) was one of these occasions.

The temperature gauge in the car might have been reading -2, but I caught sight of a beautiful stream between Hitchin and Codicote in Hertfordshire and desperately wanted to get in it. Luckily common sense prevailed, but it is this time of year when I start bubbling with excitement at the forthcoming races.

My season this year starts on Wednesday 25 May with the 800m at the European Masters Championships in London.

When I first got back in a pool in 2013 after my knee operation, the prospect of competing at these Championships was my long term goal; my ‘you never know – maybe it’s possible’! To be able to say that I did it is something I’m very proud of. I set a goal and worked incredibly hard to achieve it, despite initial doubt from my consultant, a huge amount of physical pain and rehabilitation.

I could finish top 10, last, or get DQ’d for a flyer but I’ve achieved a mini victory to simply be there!

I will not be representing my country, but myself and my club. I could finish top 10, last, or get DQ’d for a flyer (I haven’t been off a block for years) but I’ve achieved a mini victory to simply be there! It is the only pool race I will compete in this year.

On Friday 27 May I fly out to attend the week-long BestFest Open Water Festival in Majorca. I competed here last year and it was a great way to get in not just wetsuit-free open water practice, but also long course training in their stunning open air pool.

I will be racing the ASA Open Water 3km non-wetsuit, wearing my 2016 race suit (I wear the FINA-approved Aqua Sphere Energize compression suit) so it’s important that I have worn it a few times previously. At BestFest I will compete in the ‘Colonia Classics’, a 5km, 1.5km and 10km over four days.

Then I will compete throughout June – every weekend, the big focus being the Great East Swim. This is a wetsuit event. It’s essential that a wetsuit fits well and is right for you. If you are buying one ahead of a competition or event it is imperative that it is comfortable.

I personally adore the Aqua Sphere SL Pursuit. Sleeveless is relatively unusual in the UK due to the water temperature, but my shoulders were operated on when I was younger and I find that sleeved suits are restrictive. I’m confident in my wetsuit, which allows me to get on and race. That’s the most important thing! Then it’s into July itself, with just one smaller race before the ASA Open Water Festival.

With both my husband and daughter also competing this year (husband cycling and daughter swimming and triathlon), organisation of our time and resources is important.

Jo Mitchinson plans her 2016 season. The Mitchinson Race PlannerWe recently needed to centralise our racing commitments and there simply wasn’t enough room on a standard calendar. We constructed the ‘Mitchinson Race Planner 2016’, which is filling up fast.

A colour coded maze of stickers to the untrained eye, it means that we can work around each other’s races. The total of events between us currently stands at 31 between now and the beginning of September!

The end of the season currently seems a long way off, but in a few weeks Easter will already be behind us, the clocks will have changed, the weather and water will be starting to warm up and I have no doubt that I will have given in to temptation and been back in the open water!

In my next blog I will be giving a training update as the build up to the ASA Open Water Festival continues.

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