Setting Training Goals While Recovering


I’m a fairly goal oriented person. Getting the shingles required significant revision to my fitness and other life goals. But honestly, it hasn’t just been the shingles. I’ve had multiple illnesses over the last two years: bouts with bronchitis, the flu, shingles, allergies, ear infections, sinus infections, upper respiratory infections and so on.

So now, I have to figure out how I build my stamina back up without getting sick again.

And I have no idea if I will succeed.

You may be in the same situation or perhaps you are injured or coming back from a leave of absence. Hopefully, these thoughts will offer you a spring board or just serve as some accountability for me.

First, I have had to scale back. From duration to intensity, I have to scale back. Normally when I am recovering I start off with hour long work outs in the water five days a week, and the first attempt at that let me know that it wouldn’t happen. So, I am cutting that in half and seeing where it gets me.

On the outside with a slow 5-10% increase of duration alone it will be nearly 24 weeks before I am where I was in my training. Given the changes in life situation, I will probably cap my time well before I get to that point: +4 hours a day really wont work right now for training. That may have been part of the root cause of all this sickness anyways along side moving across the country.

Second, I am adding in new things. When I start something new I have low expectations for what I will be capable of, and I almost always have one to seven hundred new things I want to try out anyways. The advantage here is that by mixing things up and changing things around, I can do less and still feel like I am accomplishing something. My new things this round are cycling and rock climbing.

This will also let me use different muscles than I do in the pool and still build back up my aerobic stamina and general strength. The more I read and listen to different swim coaches the more I believe that general fitness combined with stroke specific strength training offers better results than just swimming alone.

Third, avoiding full intensity training. This is a hard one for most of us. It goes with scaling back but deserves a slot in it’s own right. Why? Because for the last year I fiddled around with USRPT and tried to give it a fair shot. It’s all about the tobata/cross fit like high intensity work outs, and that’s great. Except, right now I have to build back up strength not only in major muscle groups but in all the little muscle groups that support them. Going high intensity when I’m weakened like this would be a recipe for injury and a longer recovery.

More than that, this type of work exhausts me psychologically. It’s just too much focus, and that focus will need to get trained just like the little muscles. Trying to sprint when you are mentally drained just from going slow in the water doesn’t leave is almost a waste of time.

Fourth, I am going to continue to work on my diet and nutrition research. There are so many recipes that have not been made, and it would be wonderful to start working on some recipes and food preparation techniques for the back country. Honestly, the research needs to take a back seat to the actual cooking and meal preparation disciplines.

Now, I will end with this: you never know what your body will do. So, I plan to enjoy the process and the planning knowing full well it could tank again. I also want to be perfectly happy to take a step back if I hit a wall again. So, if you are in the same boat, take it easy and work your way up slowly.

For now then: 30 minutes a day at a low intensity working in Cycling, Running, Swimming, Rock Climbing, Yoga, and Conditioning – A lot to work in, but I hope that I can have 2 days a week running and cycling. The conditioning and yoga I’ll add in as I can.

Overall goals: I want to be ready for a half marathon in October, but if I don’t make it – hopefully a 5-10k. I want to find a swim meet to go to sometime in the next six months. It’s been over two and a half years since I competed in my favorite discipline.


About Sean Smith

Husband, Father, Pastor, Swimmer, Writer, Reader, and attempted Adventurer!
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2 Responses to Setting Training Goals While Recovering

  1. kanorp says:

    If any one can do this, its you!

    • Sean Smith says:

      I appreciate it! With God’s help, I will keep working and offering him the glory. All those plans are contingent on where he calls me to be. I was praying this morning and the verse that popped in my head was from James 4:13-17

      13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

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