Something that I hear from a lot of athletes is ‘the event isn’t as hard as the training’. This resonates with me since training takes up a good bit of time and can be fatiguing.
My typical training (Plan A) is a progressive and hold approach. I usually train for 38+ weeks for an ultra-swim (22+ miles). I progressively add more yardage each week to build to 40k yards in a week and I hold that amount for 3 – 4 weeks. Then, I will dip down from 40K for 2-3 weeks and then go back up and hold at that yardage. I will do 2 very long swims; 15K+ and a 30K during peak weeks. Like marathon running, I will not swim the entire distance which in the case of Loch Ness is 35k.
This training model is something that I’ve refined from my early swims and have solidified through a great long distance coach. When I started doing ultra-swims, I peaked at 60K per week on top of a full time, fast paced job. I suffered from overtraining. It took the wisdom of a coach, and the loss of sleep and appetite (a “canary” for an athlete) for me to realize that peaking at 40K per week is enough for me. Also, I learned the importance of recovery - - naps and days off. My swim week is training Monday through Sat morning. This way, I get almost 48 hours of recovery after my long Sat am swim.
Best formed plans can go sideways and its important to be flexible. Plan B for me can mean jamming all my training into 3 -4 days. Its not ideal but it can be useful for challenging my system as long as I get good recover afterwards.
The other thing that I’ve learned is to shake up where I swim and who I swim with. Variety is the spice of ultra training! Im very grateful for everyone that I train with, all the great training advice and places to swim.
Here's a shot of my training program