There are so many people out there that want information on how to train for marathon swimming. Just in case anyone does not know, marathon swimming involves swimming distances of 10km’s or greater. When I started to look into participating in marathon swim events, I was asking the following questions:

– How much training should I do a week?
– Should I only do endurance training from now on?

But with trial and error I have found what works best for me during the winter off-season period. I do 5 sessions a week:

1. Endurance (7,000m)
2. Technique/Recovery (2,000m)
3. Threshold (2,000m)
4. Red Mist (4,000m)
5. Endurance (12,000m)

Total Weekly Distance = 27km
(I do increase/decrease this distance all the time, depending on the time of the year).

Before I go into more detail of the sessions, there is one thing every long distance swimmer should know. Your CSS (Critical Swim Speed), which is your threshold pace. Your threshold pace is your swim speed, at the point just before you go lactate. In another words if you try and maintain a speed faster than your theshold pace, you are a ticking time bomb, and you will not sustain this pace for very long i.e. minutes. Your CSS is roughly your 1,500m pace. More info on CSS and how to find your CSS can be found here.

Below is my typical weekly training schedule:

Monday: Endurance (7,100m)
Warm up: None (I just simply ease my way into the session)
Main Set: 10 x 700m @ CSS +10 (Sets 1-4), CSS +8 (Sets 5-7), CSS +6 (Sets 8-9), CSS +4 (Set 10)
Cool down: 100m backstroke

Tuesday: Technique/Recovery (2,000m)
Warm Up: 400m
Main Set: 1,400m. Varies every week, it depends on what I feel I need to work on. But generally I mix up recovery work, sculling, kicking and drills. I incorporate loads of backstroke in these sessions. Backstroke will open up your chest, which has a tendency to pull your shoulders inwards when the chest muscles get very tight from all the freestyle swimming. If your chest pulls your shoulders inwards, you will be a prime suspect for ‘swimmers shoulder‘. Sculling is excellent for gaining a greater ‘feel for the water’ and its really relaxing (I love sculling). I do a few sets with fins on just to stretch out my ankles, so I get nice pointed toes when I swim normally. You don’t want dorsi flexed feet when you swim.
Cool down: 200m backstroke

Wednesday: Threshold Session (2,000m) *This is my fastest swim session of the week*
Warm Up: 400m
Main Set: 15 x 100m @ threshold pace
Cool Down: 100m backstroke

Thursday: Day Off

Friday: Red Mist (4,000m) *Developed by Swim Smooth. Click here for more info*

Saturday: Day Off

Sunday: Endurance (12,000m)
This involves throwing on my earphones and just swimming. I take nutritional breaks every 30 mins or I will break this session in pyramid sets.

My Winter Training Routine