Training for SwimRun



The first thing to state about SwimRun is that it's a long day out - it's a very long day out. You wouldn't do minimal training for an iron distance and expect to be able to wing it on the day. And so you need to put some time in, as you can't just wing it when undertaking a SwimRun event either.


Training for SwimRun is not a solo endeavour

You can do the groundwork training for SwimRun, in the water or running, on your own. But you also need to practice with your partner because you will be racing together. It's not rocket science but you do need to have some focus on how you perform as a team as part of your training programme.

So by all means do all of the below to condition your body to the task, but make time to also work with your partner.


Running training for SwimRun

The run sections when added up will come to over 30k in some races. There will be a mix of run lengths depending on the course, with a mix of short and perhaps a 10-12k leg so bear this in mind when preparing for taking on the task.

Start your training in normal running kit and get an endurance base. Do a weekly staple long run at a really steady pace, a tempo and a speed session. While it is an endurance race, you will lose overall run speed if you only run steady and you will start to really plod.

Gradually build up to running four times a week, mixing distance speed and terrain, don't fall into plodding out the same route and distance. SwimRun courses are changeable and so you need to be able to adapt your running style to cope with the challenges the course will throw at you on race day.

Once you are comfortable with this, start running twice in one of the days, say 5k in the morning and then 4k at midday. Don't cheat yourself by always making each run get shorter as the day progresses.

Do this in sets of two weeks hard followed by one week at an easier pace for a few weeks. This will help you figure out that you are not picking up any niggles or small injuries caused by the change in routine to your body.

Now you can add a back-to-back steady first day - start so the total run distance over the two days is under half the total race distance. In time you should be able to run four runs, for example 5/2/8/1 kilometers, and aim for within 6 hours. The following day, you swim.


Swim training for SwimRun

Swimming multiple swims in a pool in a day isn't so practical. So whatever you do, make sure you can swim the longest swim comfortably. Again build up the distance, keep in your speed work, and practice with paddles if you plan using them.

Don't swim every set as a long steady swim. Do a mixed set at a steady pace, say 1k, 400m, 1k. As with the running don't always decrease the distance through the set.

Now we can get some bricks done and race kit practice. You can be doing these in a pool environment but without your shoes on, the pool owners won't take kindly to a pair of mucky shoes in their chlorine.

Check you can use your wetsuit in the pool, and adapt to whatever they are happy with. You will need to get used to looking a total idiot running in your swim kit in public outside.

As soon as the weather is suitable for open water make sure you are swimming out there too. Race day water may well be cold so you need to get used to it as soon as possible.


Bringing it all together

First off you should do a swim, run, swim, run, to get used to the repeated changes between water and land. Build up to say a 1k swim and 5k run, repeated three times.

Next make one of the runs longer, then keep varying the sets until you are active for half the distances of the race. This should be built to two weeks going hard, followed by one week at an easier pace.

It's imperative to be able to do this in your race kit once you are used to the concept, any little niggles with the way your kit fits in the first part of the race will become a nightmare by half way round the course.

This is also the time to sort nutrition. Obviously you can't eat whilst swimming and there is no bike leg when, traditionally in a triathlon, you would be taking fuel on board. Little and often is the key. Take food that is easy to pack, easy to rip open, easy to hold and easy to chew or swallow. You may need to share with your partner, and so now is the time to find out if either of you is allergic to anything and not when you are at the top of a mountain!

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 training with a partner good extra reading.



See more training and advice articles here.