Tips on training with a partner for SwimRun



In triathlon, duathlon and open water swimming the sport is a singular journey for an athlete meaning you set your own bar and know your own limits. So if you are thinking about taking on SwimRun as a new challenge, working as a unit of one will all have to change. The rules of these races are often that you run with a partner which takes some getting used to.

Read through our article on training for SwimRun to take a look at the commitment needed for what is a very long race. In fact, both of you read it. If you are still game, in this article we discuss some aspects of training with a partner to get you race-ready.


Finding the right partner

The rules of SwimRun mean that you and your partner must usually stay within 10 metres of each other throughout the race. All pieces of kit you take out with you must come back again and you must cross the finish line together. If one of you retires, you both retire.

To take on a SwimRun, you need to find a partner who fits even better than your wetsuit. You need to find a partner that you get along with. You need a partner who is at the same level of fitness as you. And you need a partner that you are happy to spend a lot of time jumping in and out of lakes with, running over misty moors all alone with, sharing a pair of goggles with, sharing your last sports gel with…

Find someone who is the Yin to your Yang.


Swim pace training with a partner is easier said than done

Possibly the hardest aspect of training to get in synch with is the swim. Swimming at the same pace as someone else is much harder than running together. As an idea, try drafting each other or you may find that one person will always lead which will see them run out of energy fast.

The faster swimmer can find the best exit from the swim stage, but bear in mind you need to be together by the race rules. The faster swimmer can also sight leaving the slower swimmer to just follow, trusting in their partner. This reduction in sighting effort will bring the two of you together more as the slower swimmer will conserve more energy by leaving the way-finding to their partner.

Take it from us that swimming facing each other whilst breathing will drive you totally dotty by the end of the race! At every stroke you will be eye-balling each other so try breathing on the other side or swimming back to back. If you haven’t mastered breathing on either side, then train yourself to do this. For many reasons other than catching each other’s eye on each stroke, it will be a whole lot easier if you can breathe either side too. Read this article on open water swimming tips for a few pointers on learning how to breath either side. Practice in the pool first!


Pace setting on the run

Running together will be easier, one following the other is often better than side by side. When running side by side you tend to inadvertently up the pace and talk too much which is draining. If one of you is the stronger runner, then let the slower runner set the pace by running up front. This way you won’t lose each other, and you will have a pace that you can both cope with.

It's imperative you are honest with each other rather than letting ego take over. If it's slightly too fast a pace as you run for the first few hundred yards then say so. Don't hang on in there, because inevitably you will blow up and this will let the pair of you down.


Getting to grips with your kit

You may need to remind each other to eat and drink and you will need to work out what each of your nutritional needs are so that you are carrying enough – and not too much. You will need to share the load on mandatory safety kit and you will share out the carrying of spare kit like an extra pair of goggles.

Practice unzipping and re-zipping wetsuits. Your SwimRun wetsuit will be worn throughout the race, but you will need to take it on and off your upper half upwards of 10 times as you make your way around the course. This means you may need to help each other with removing the arms or unsnagging a zip from your race bib that is just out of reach.

Keep an eye on each other and make sure you tell each other if a bumbag is tangled with the race vest, if goggle straps are falling off or a pull buoy is working loose.

And don't lose the car keys. That would be the end of a beautiful friendship.


If you are thinking of doing your first SwimRun, you might find our article on useful things to know about SwimRun, and this article on SwimRun training good extra reading.


See more training and advice articles here.