A 24 week MARATHON SWIM training plan (for the novice swimmer slower than 02:00/100 CSS)

Average Weekly Breakdown
Training Load By Week
Average Weekly Breakdown
Training Load By Week
Average Weekly Training Hours: 06:37

INTRODUCTION

This is a 24 week MARATHON SWIM training plan for somebody who currently swims at, or slower than 02:00/100m pace for a 1500m. A marathon swim is defined as any open water swim between 10km and 20km long (leaning towards 20km for the faster swimmers doing 02:00/100m and towards 10km for the slower swimmers doing towards 03:00/100m).

You could start this plan as early as February in England and as late as April. Due to the temperature of the sea it is worth considering the time your event falls and how early you can train. This plan would suit an event in England between July and October as this is the second half of summer.

WHO THIS PLAN IS FOR

This training plan would suit a sea swim or lake swim alike. The plan best suits someone who is relatively new to long distance swimming but some experience is recommended. Ideally you would have swam (using solely front crawl without stopping) a 5km open water event before starting this plan but it s not essential.

FOLLOWING THIS PLAN

The training plan was originally created for swimming end to end of lake Windermere. Windermere is a 10.5 mile still water swim. The plan has been adapted and re-set out to cater for any open water marathon swim. The training in this plan is set using critical swim speed (CSS). This is shown as CSS/100m pace. For almost all the pool sessions you will need a tempo trainer to measure and maintain your training zone.

BEGINNING THIS PLAN

The plan starts with three swim sessions per week and one strength session - all strength training in this plan is body weight exercises, so no gym or weights needed. The longest session in the first week is around one hour or 2.2km.

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM TRAINING

The longest week consists of 10h 55min of swimming. The most swim sessions in a week is five. The longest distance swam (not including the event) is 6km and the longest time swimming (not including the event) is 3hours. Every third week is slightly easier.

BEFORE YOU START

It is only safe to do long open water swims with supervision, make yourself visible with a bright swim hat and/or a tow buoy, if you have to be on your own, go to a lifeguarded area. In the final 6 weeks there are some 3hour open water swims which require nutrition practice. Plan ahead and try to find a qualified assistant to be by your side on a solid craft, this person can look after your feeds for you.

Sample Day 1
0:45:00
1250m
Swim - technique 1

Focus on a horizontal body position

WU - focus on breaking the surface with your heals and keeping a horizontal body position: 4x 25m kick (holding float at front, arms resting), then 4x 25m (no float, arms streamline with a scull to breath) - take 20s rests.


Main: with fins, 4x 50m KOS focusing on holding your body position (balancing on your side) with one hand stretched out in front of your shoulder and the other arm resting on the high hip - swap sides after 25m, take 20s rests.

Main2: Catch up drill with fins - 8x 50m catch up drill with 20s rests (hold your horizontal body position and aim to stretch out as much as possible - to do catch up simply touch the lead hand with the recovering arm before taking your next stroke).

Main 3: 4x 50m (no fins) perfect swimming at a strong intensity, not as fast as possible (FAP) but holding a good stroke, level body, feet on the surface and long strokes - take 30s rests.

CD: 2x 25m back stroke

Sample Day 2
0:45:00
Strength 1

Warm Up – 20 minutes:
• 10x lunge walks (both legs counts as 1).
• 4 minutes (or ½ mile) gentle jog.
• 5x (1 minute (lay on back) fast bicycles then 10x plank to front support (start with a plank, hold body straight and push up to hands, arms straight, then return to plank).
• 5 minutes on foam roller

1. Squat Thrusts – 5 minutes:
Emphasis on muscular strength and endurance.
Take up front support position with arms under the shoulders and a slight bend in the elbows. One leg needs to be straight and one bent. Knees in line with hips. Keeping the bottom high, switch legs rhythmically.
(both legs = 1)

3 x (30 squat thrusts then 1 minute rest)

2. The Plank – 6 minutes:
Emphasis on core stability.
1) Lie face down on floor with everything flat and support the head with back of hands. Take a breath in then out, pull the belly button towards spine. Holding the body rigid, push up to plank position supporting body with elbows. Keep breathing smoothly.
2) Repeat the above movement but raise right leg off the floor
3) Repeat again raising the left leg off the floor

3x (30s plank 1, 30s P2, 30s P3 then 90s rest)


3. Squats – 6 minutes:
Emphasis on muscular strength and endurance.
Stand with feet pedal width apart. Bend at the hips and knees keeping knees behind toes and in line with feet. At lowest make sure bottom is above heals and shoulders above bottom. Count 5 seconds on the way down (one thousand, two thousand…) Really drive back upwards using the legs. If you have some weights hold an even amount each side.


No weights: 3x (15 reps with 1 minute rest)
Weights: 3x 10reps (1st 50% of 10RM, 2nd 75%, 3rd 100%)


Cool Down – 8 minutes on the foam roller

Sample Day 4
0:45:00
Swim CSS test #1

WU: 200m easy, then 4x 100m with 30s rests (at race pace checking your times are maintained).

TT1: 200m FAP then 4x 50m really easy with 30s rests.

TT2: 400m FAP. CD: 5 minutes easy swimming.

Sample Day 5
1:00:00
2200m
LSD1 swim

WU15 minutes: 200m easy, 200 with fins (broken arrow up, swim back), then 4 x50m (1/2 length scull1, 1/2 length swim / 1/2 length doggy paddle, 1/2 length swim).

Main 45 minutes: 4 x400m all at CSS +6s/100) +1 beep/ or 35s recovery.

CD: stretch in shower

Sample Day 8
0:50:00
Swim - technique/endurance 2

Focus on streamline

WU:  2x 25m of double armed back stroke with 10s rests.  2x 50m catch up drill with fins 15s rests, 3x 100m fc swim (no fins), 20s rests.

Main: 8x 25m kick (no fins) with float starting each length on the minute.

Main2: repeat ? x (25m with pull buoy, 15s rest) focusing on moving through the water at ease, with out splashing. Just keep repeating for 15 minutes, for example if each length takes 40s + 10s rest = you will do 18 lengths.

CD: easy but perfect stroke, 4x 25m swim without swim aids - 10s rest

Sample Day 9
0:55:00
Strength 1.1

Warm Up – 20 minutes:
• 10x lunge walks (both legs counts as 1).
• 4 minutes (or ½ mile) gentle jog.
• 5x (1 minute (lay on back) fast bicycles then 10x plank to front support (start with a plank, hold body straight and push up to hands, arms straight, then return to plank).
• 5 minutes on foam roller

1. Squat Thrusts – 6 minutes:
Emphasis on muscular strength and endurance.
Take up front support position with arms under the shoulders and a slight bend in the elbows. One leg needs to be straight and one bent. Knees in line with hips. Keeping the bottom high, switch legs rhythmically.
(both legs = 1)

3 x (60 squat thrusts then 1 minute rest)

2. The Plank – 9 minutes:
Emphasis on core stability.
1) Lie face down on floor with everything flat and support the head with back of hands. Take a breath in then out, pull the belly button towards spine. Holding the body rigid, push up to plank position supporting body with elbows. Keep breathing smoothly.
2) Repeat the above movement but raise right leg off the floor
3) Repeat again raising the left leg off the floor

3x (45s plank 1, 45s P2, 45s P3 then 45s rest)


3. Squats – 10 minutes:
Emphasis on muscular strength and endurance.
Stand with feet pedal width apart. Bend at the hips and knees keeping knees behind toes and in line with feet. At lowest make sure bottom is above heals and shoulders above bottom. Count 5 seconds on the way down (one thousand, two thousand…) Really drive back upwards using the legs. If you have some weights hold an even amount each side.


No weights: 5x (15 reps with 1 minute rest)
Weights: 5x 10reps (1st 50% of 10RM, 2nd 75%, 3rd 100%)


Cool Down – 8 minutes on the foam roller

Sample Day 11
0:45:00
1250m
Swim - technique 2

Focus on a horizontal body position

WU - focus on breaking the surface with your heals and keeping a horizontal body position: 4x 25m kick (holding float at front, arms resting), then 4x 25m (no float, arms streamline with a scull to breath) - take 20s rests.


Main: with fins, 4x 50m KOS focusing on holding your body position (balancing on your side) with one hand stretched out in front of your shoulder and the other arm resting on the high hip - swap sides after 25m, take 20s rests.

Main2: Catch up drill with fins - 8x 50m catch up drill with 20s rests (hold your horizontal body position and aim to stretch out as much as possible - to do catch up simply touch the lead hand with the recovering arm before taking your next stroke).

Main 3: 4x 50m (no fins) perfect swimming at a strong intensity, not as fast as possible but holding a good stroke, level body, feet on the surface and long strokes - take 30s rests.

CD: 2x 25m back stroke

Pete Wilby
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PeteWilbyTriathlOn

I am a triathlon and open water swimming coach based by the sea in Teignmouth, Devon. I provide a coaching service for triathletes and open water swimmers of all abilities. I aim to provide a service for everyone.

When I train triathletes I use critical swim speed (CSS) for swimming, which requires a pace clock or watch. I use power, heart rate, and feel (RPE) for cycling. And I use pace, time and distance as well as RPE for running.