Swimrun is a new sport, and as such there are few advice guides on how to train specifically for that sport. That said, it might be for the better since your own body and experience are the usually the best guides when it comes to training. Luckily, Happy Swimrun by Orca has at least a few years background building and executing training plans for running and triathlon so we combined that data to come up with a plan for ÖtillÖ.
The general plan was to build total volume January, February, and March (focusing a lot on the swimming) and then stay at a constant volume, but add intensity April and May in order to prepare the body for 3 months of racing after that. One challenge has been keeping the training at a good level when also racing almost every other week between June and September. We have tried to keep the coming training sessions prioritized and in mind even during races so that we don’t wear ourselves out more than necessary.
We do a lot of our training together which we believe helps us during our races. We also really enjoy training with our running club, Solvikingarna, who have well-planned and organized training sessions several times per week. These are great opportunities for quality workouts where we have others to spar against. Johan is a faster runner than Hanna so it is great for both of us to have others who are equally strong to push us especially during interval workouts. Similarly, in the pool, Hanna is faster so when she can she books in sessions with swimmers who challenge her. Interestingly, we are nearly identically fast in open water which is great from a practical/safety aspect when training open water!
For both swimming and running we try to do 1 interval workout, 1 threshold workout, 1 distance workout, and 1 or 2 calmer workouts each week. To prepare specifically for ÖtillÖ we have done a couple 6 hour swimrun sessions on one of our favorite courses, the GBG swimrun course. The idea there is just to practice keeping the body going for a long period of time and learn how it reacts to food input, etc. One thought behind all of the racing we are doing early in the season is also to practice swimrun specific race conditions for ÖtillÖ.
For those who are interested, here is a plot over Hanna’s swim and run distances since January this year (in yards and miles):
Hanna has also worked quite a bit with physical therapist, Wenche Norén at ElitRehab to come up with a strength training plan to fight off problems with past and future injuries. We have done VO2max and lactate threshold tests with Team Häsla och Friskvård and Aktivitus as a guide to where our heart rates should be during specific workouts to get the intended benefits of the session.
For those who want some pointers on training based off of our experience:
- Listen to your body first and the advice of others second.
- When building, don’t increase any part of your training (volume, distance, intensity, etc) by more than 10% per week.
- Sometimes rest happens naturally in the training schedule, but make sure to keep track that you have a cut back week at least every 4th week, especially during a build phase.
- Spend a nearly equal amount of time training swimming and running. In many of the races you spend approximately equal amount of time trying to get forward in the water and on land, so it’s a good idea to train both equally. It’s also a good way to prevent injury to divide up the volume between the two very different sports.
- Swimrun specific long training sessions. Find a little swimrun loop somewhere and give yourself a time goal and see how many laps around your course you can manage in your goal time. This gives you a chance to work on transitions and allows you to do a longer session without too much wear and tear on arms or legs. During these sessions take it easy on the swim and the run, but try to get fast with the transitions.
- Train in conditions that are close to race conditions. Train with your partner, with your gear, and on terrain and in water similar to that of the races you are planning on doing.
Other things that we believe help with performance
- Classical thai massage on a regular basis. We highly recommend Ravin Thai in Göteborg.
- Yoga. Hanna has been practicing and teaching yoga for almost 10 years.
- Vegetarian/vegan diet.
- Lots of sleep! The body will respond much better to increased amount of training if you also increase sleep.