HomeTraining PlansComplete 12-Week SwimRun Training Plan: Mastering 12-16km Race Distance

Complete 12-Week SwimRun Training Plan: Mastering 12-16km Race Distance

This may be your first SwimRun event, you may be from a swimming, running or triathlon background and fancy something different? This plan will get you to the finish of your first event. You can learn more about SwimRun events with our SwimRun guide and overview here.

SwimRun is just what it sounds like, a sport that involves swimming and running, with multiple transitions as you go between disciplines. Participants are usually in teams of two and teams negotiate challenging, but beautiful terrain and open water swims.

SwimRun Training Plan Overview

This plan includes:

– Pool and open water swimming sessions
– Running sessions with Heart Rate targets
– SwimRun sessions (bricks and combo bricks)
– Strength sessions to help avoid injuries
– Optional cross training MTB session

It’s exciting and different and you may need to invest in some new kit and different techniques but this plan will guide you through this.

– Prior to beginning this training program, you should be able to complete a 30 minute or approximately 1200 metres (or yard) swim and a 30 minute run.
– Training program will build you up to 3000 metres (or yards), 75 minutes of running and 2 hours 30 minutes of SwimRun race specific training.
– SwimRun events are open water swimming events so try to do at least one open water swim per week.
– The events are continuous SwimRun events, so you run in your swim kit and swim in your run kit! This takes practice so try to do this every week as early in the plan as you can.

I’ve set Monday as your rest, recovery and rebuild day as you will do a long session on Sunday which is the day most people have to devote to long training sessions. Also, most events are on a Sunday so doing your longest session on this day gets you physically and mentally prepared for a race distance effort.

You should consult your doctor before embarking on any physical fitness training. For any of the sessions, especially the strength and conditioning sessions, if you are unsure of the exercises then seek the help and advice of a professional near you.

Heart Rate and RPE Targets for SwimRun Training Overview

This plan uses both Heart Rate (HR) and Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) targets. If you are training with hear rate targets you will need a smart watch with built in heart rate monitor (HRM) or a HRM chest or arm strap and smart watch with Bluetooth.

You could choose to train with RPE which means you will need to gauge how hard to train based on a scale of 1 to 10. The table below shows the effort associated with each RPE zone plus how it relates to hear rate zone.

A chart of a training activity  Description automatically generated with medium confidence

You will do regular testing to ensure you are making progress. These tests will be detailed in the plan the first time they occur. You will complete the same test every time you do it.

Plan Terminology

Brick – A brick session is a training set that involves more than one discipline/sport back-to-back. The most common example in triathlon is the bike/run brick, where a bike session will be followed by a run.

Brick Combo – This is special brick workout for SwimRunner’s where you will go from swim to run to swim etc to simulate race day conditions.

HR – Heart Rate

FC – Front Crawl or Freestyle

MTB – Mountain Bike

RI – Rest Interval

RPE – Rate of Perceived Effort

Tempo – A tempo run is simply where you run at a ‘comfortably hard’ pace for a sustained period – ideally at least around 20 minutes and up to about 60 minutes.

TT – Time Trial

Electronic Version of the Plan

If you prefer to train with an electronic plan that is provided via an App and can be sent direct to your smart watch, then you can find the plan on TrainingPeaks and Final Surge.

The SwimRun Training Plan

Week 1

Welcome to week 1 of you SwimRun plan. The focus this week is to build a routine and get used to your SwimRun kit. You will also do your first swim to run brick session. You should aim to go from the swim and on to the run as quickly as possible to simulate a race situation. There’s also an optional cross training session on your MTB.

Monday

This is your weekly rest day. Enjoy!
It’s important to let your body rest a recover. This day should include special emphasis on recovery activities such as: foam rolling, stretching, massage, contrast baths. Use any tools that you find help with recovery.

Tuesday

Easy Run in Z1-2 (RPE1-3) 30 mins.

Make sure you warm up well with dynamic movements and drills and static stretch after your session.

Be disciplined and don’t do this session harder than detailed. Easy runs are meant to be easy. To keep in the right zone, you may have to walk a little until you condition your body to run in this zone.

Strength Session (see end of plan for an example strength session).

Wednesday

Swim TT 1000m/yds

This session will act as a benchmark, so you know your current speed. Regular testing lets you know you are improving. Swim as fast as you can in each times effort – good luck!

200 Z1 warm up and your favourite drills (RPE1-2)
400 Z3-4 (RPE5-8) / 120 RI
200 Z3-4 (RPE5-8) / 120 RI
200 Z1 warm down and stretch (RPE1-2)

Note your times for the 400 and 200 TT and the first 100 of the 400 swim.

Thursday

Tempo Run 40 mins. Warm up well and stretch after.

Friday

Swim to Run Brick

1600m/yds swim followed by a 15 min hilly run.

Swim: It’s primarily and pull & paddle session. If you are new to paddles, then consider using Speedo finger paddles or other similar small paddles to avoid shoulder issues.

Warm up: 200 Easy FC

Main Set:

8x 50 (25 Drill/25 Swim);

Drill is 616 and Scull #1

4x 50 Paddles 20RI;

4x 50 Swim 20RI;

4x 50 Paddles & Pull Buoy 20RI;

4x 50 Swim 20RI;

Warm Down: 200 Easy

Saturday

Trail Run 45 mins Z1-3 (RPE1-5). Warm up well and stretch after.

Sunday

Optional Cross Training

Today you have the option to hop on your MTB and do some cross training to build your cardiovascular capability and core strength. Maybe use the time to check out a new trail running route?

750m Open Water Swim Z1-2 (RPE1-3)

MTB Bike 45 mins Z1-2 (RPE1-3)

Week 2

Welcome to week 2 of you SwimRun plan. The focus this week is to build a routine and get used to your SwimRun kit. You will also do another swim to run brick session. You should aim to go from the swim and on to the run as quickly as possible to simulate a race situation.

Monday

Rest and Recovery Day.

Tuesday

Easy Run in Z1-2 (RPE1-3) 30 mins.

Make sure you warm up well with dynamic movements and drills and static stretch after your session.

Strength Session (see end of plan for an example strength session).

Wednesday

Swim #1 45 min 1000m/yds

Warm up: 200 FC RPE2-3 (Z2)

Main Set:

4 x 100 FC + Pull buoy & paddles @RPE4-6 (Z3) RI15s

4 x 50 FC @RPE 7 (Z4) RI20s

Warm down: 200 Easy @ RPE 1-2 (Z1)

Thursday

Tempo Run 45 mins. Warm up well and stretch after.

Friday

Swim to Run Brick

1600m/yds swim followed by a 18 min hilly run.

Saturday

Trail Run 50 mins Z1-3 (RPE1-5). Warm up well and stretch after.

Sunday

1100m Open Water Swim Z1-2 (RPE1-3)

MTB Bike 60 mins Z1-2 (RPE1-3)

Week 3

Monday

Rest and Recovery Day.

Tuesday

Easy Run in Z1-2 (RPE1-3) 40 mins.

Make sure you warm up well with dynamic movements and drills and static stretch after your session.

Strength Session (see end of plan for an example strength session).

Wednesday

Swim #2 45 min 1200m/yds

Warm up: 100 FC RPE2-3 (Z2)

200 Drill (25 fist/25 FC x 4),

Main set:

2 x 200 FC + Pull buoy & paddles @RPE 4 (Z3) RI20s

4 x 100 FC @RPE 6 (Z3) RI20s

Warm down: 100 FC RPE 1-2 (Z1)

Hold a steady pace & get a feel for the water.

Thursday

Tempo Run 45 mins. Warm up well and stretch after.

Friday

Swim to Run Brick

1600m/yds swim followed by a 24 min hilly run.

Saturday

Trail Run 50 mins Z1-3 (RPE1-5). Warm up well and stretch after.

Sunday

1500m Open Water Swim Z1-2 (RPE1-3)

MTB Bike 70 mins Z1-2 (RPE1-3)

Week 4

Welcome to week 4 of you SwimRun plan. This is a recovery and rebuild week where your training volume is reduced to enable your body to rebuild and come back stronger and faster.

Monday

Rest and Recovery Day.

Tuesday

Easy Run in Z1-2 (RPE1-3) 40 mins.

Make sure you warm up well with dynamic movements and drills and static stretch after your session.

Strength Session (see end of plan for an example strength session).

Wednesday

Extra rest and recovery day.

Thursday

Tempo Run 40 mins. Warm up well and stretch after.

Friday

Swimming: 45 min unstructured swim. 

This is recovery week, so it seems appropriate to have a recovery swim. No drills or structure just a time to have fun, play with your stroke and embed some of your lessons from drills and skills sessions. Enjoy!

Saturday

Trail Run 55 mins Z1-3 (RPE1-5). Warm up well and stretch after.

Sunday

1500m Open Water Swim Z1-2 (RPE1-3)

MTB Bike 70 mins Z1-2 (RPE1-3)

Week 5

Welcome to week 5 of you SwimRun plan. You should feel refreshed and raring to go this week after your recovery week. We will also add in SwimRun training on Sunday mixing up swims and runs to get you used to doing back to back swims and runs.

Monday

Rest and Recovery Day.

Tuesday

Easy Run in Z1-2 (RPE1-3) 40 mins.

May sure you warm up well with dynamic movements and drills and static stretch after your session.

Strength Session (see end of plan for an example strength session).

Wednesday

Swim #3 45 min 1300m/yds

Warm up: 200 FC RPE2-3 (Z2)

200 Drill (25 fist/25 FC x 4)

Main Set:

2 x 200 FC + Pull buoy & paddles @RPE 5 (Z3) RI15S

4 x 100 FC @RPE 6 (Z3) RI10S

Warm Down: 100 FC RPE1-2 (Z1)

Hold a steady pace & get a feel for the water.

Thursday

Tempo Run 45 mins. Warm up well and stretch after.

Friday

Swim to Run Brick

2200m/yds swim followed by a 15 min hilly run.

Swim Technique Pull & Paddles 2200

It’s primarily and pull & paddle session. If you are new to paddles then consider using Speedo finger paddles or other similar small paddle to avoid shoulder issues.

Warm up: 400 Easy FS RPE2-3 (Z2)

Main Set:

8x 50 (25 Drill/25 Swim);

Drill is 616 and Scull #1

6x 50 Paddles 20RI;

6x 50 Swim 20RI;

6x 50 Paddles & Pull Buoy 20RI;

6x 50 Swim 20RI;

Warm Down: 200 Easy

Saturday

Extra rest day to be fresh for the longer session on Sunday

Sunday

Brick Combo Session #1

This many take some planning as you need to do multiple swims and runs. The swims are best done in open water and the runs on trails.

Also, you will need to use your race kit (including pull buoy and paddles if you plan to use them) and with your partner if you are racing as a team. This is also a chance to try out your nutrition and hydration. Remember to practice sighting, swim entrance and exits.

Always choose a safe place to swim and run and use a tow float in open water.

Warm up dry-side with a dynamic warm up

1000 Swim

5km Run

500 Swim

3km Run

500 Swim

Good luck and have fun!

Week 6

Monday

Rest and Recovery Day.

Tuesday

Easy Run in Z1-2 (RPE1-3) 40 mins.

Make sure you warm up well with dynamic movements and drills and static stretch after your session.

Strength Session (example triathlon and SwimRun strength session).

Wednesday

Swim #2 45 min 1200m/yds

Warm up: 100 FC RPE2-3 (Z2)

200 Drill (25 fist/25 FC x 4),

Main set:

2 x 200 FC + Pull buoy & paddles @RPE 4 (Z3) RI20s

4 x 100 FC @RPE 6 (Z3) RI20s

Warm down: 100 FC RPE 1-2 (Z1)

Hold a steady pace & get a feel for the water.

Thursday

Tempo Run 45 mins. Warm up well and stretch after.

Friday

Swim to Run Brick

2200m/yds swim followed by a 15 min hilly run.

Swim Technique Pull & Paddles 2200

It’s primarily and pull & paddle session. If you are new to paddles then consider using Speedo finger paddles or other similar small paddle to avoid shoulder issues.

Warm up: 400 Easy FS RPE2-3 (Z2)

Main Set:

8x 50 (25 Drill/25 Swim);

Drill is 616 and Scull #1

6x 50 Paddles 20RI;

6x 50 Swim 20RI;

6x 50 Paddles & Pull Buoy 20RI;

6x 50 Swim 20RI;

Warm Down: 200 Easy

Saturday

Trail Run 75 mins Z1-3 (RPE1-5). Warm up well and stretch after.

Sunday

2500m Open Water Swim Z1-2 (RPE1-3)

MTB Bike 75 mins Z1-2 (RPE1-3)

Week 7

Welcome to week 7 of you SwimRun plan. It’s swim time trail week to see how you are progressing.

Monday

Rest and Recovery Day.

Tuesday

Easy Run in Z1-2 (RPE1-3) 45 mins.

May sure you warm up well with dynamic movements and drills and static stretch after your session.

Strength Session (see end of plan for an example strength session).

Wednesday

Swim TT 1000m/yds

This session will act as a benchmark, so you know your current speed. Regular testing lets you know you are improving. Swim as fast as you can in each times effort – good luck!

200 Z1 warm up and your favourite drills (RPE1-2)
400 Z3-4 (RPE5-8) / 120 RI
200 Z3-4 (RPE5-8) / 120 RI
200 Z1 warm down and stretch (RPE1-2)

Note your times for the 400 and 200 TT and the first 100 of the 400 swim. Did you go faster than last time?

Thursday

Tempo Run 50 mins. Warm up well and stretch after.

Friday

Swim to Run Brick

2200m/yds swim followed by a 15 min hilly run.

Saturday

Trail Run 70 mins Z1-3 (RPE1-5). Warm up well and stretch after.

Sunday

3000m Open Water Swim Z1-2 (RPE1-3)

MTB Bike 80 mins Z1-2 (RPE1-3)

Week 8

Welcome to week 8 of you SwimRun plan. This is another recovery week so the volume is lower allowing your to rebuild and recover and come back stronger. Don’t be temped to do more as your body will not thank you!

No strength sessions this week.

Monday

Rest and Recovery Day.

Tuesday

Easy Run in Z1-2 (RPE1-3) 45 mins.

May sure you warm up well with dynamic movements and drills and static stretch after your session.

Wednesday

Extra rest and recovery day.

Thursday

Tempo Run 45 mins. Warm up well and stretch after.

Friday

Easy Swimming 60 mins (Recovery)

Swimming: 60 min unstructured swim. 

This is recovery week, so it seems appropriate to have a recovery swim. No drills or structure just a time to have fun, play with your stroke and embed some of your lessons from drills and skills sessions. Enjoy!

Saturday

Extra rest day.

Sunday

Brick Combo Session #2

This many take some planning as you need to do multiple swims and runs. The swims are best done in open water and the runs on trails.

Also you will need to use your race kit (including pull buoy and paddles if you plan to use them) and with your partner if you are racing as a team. This is also a chance to try out your nutrition and hydration.

Remember to practice sighting, swim entrance and exits.

Always choose a safe place to swim and run and use a tow float in open water.

Warm up dry-side with a dynamic warm up.

1500 Swim

3km Run

500 Swim

5km Run

100 Swim

2km Run

Good luck and have fun!

Week 9

Monday

Rest and Recovery Day.

Tuesday

Easy Run in Z1-2 (RPE1-3) 45 mins.

May sure you warm up well with dynamic movements and drills and static stretch after your session.

Strength Session (see end of plan for an example strength session).

Wednesday

Swim #6 SwimRun Technique 1400m/y

Warm up: 200 FC RPE2-3 (Z2)

Main Set:

6 x 100 FC + Pull buoy & paddles @RPE 5 (Z3) RI15s

6 x 50 FC @RPE 7 (Z4) RI20s

2 x 25 kick + 25 FC (Z3)

Warm down: 200 FC RPE1-2 (Z1)

Focus: Kicking from the hip with pointed toes. Kicking will aid efficiency and hip rotation.

Thursday

Tempo Run 45 mins. Warm up well and stretch after.

Friday

Swim to Run Brick

2200m/yds swim followed by a 5k hilly or Fartlek run.

Saturday

Trail Run 80 mins Z1-3 (RPE1-5). Warm up well and stretch after.

Sunday

3000m Open Water Swim Z1-2 (RPE1-3)

MTB Bike 90 mins Z1-2 (RPE1-3)

Week 10

Welcome to week 10 of you SwimRun plan. You get an extra rest day this week to recover and re-build, enjoy it!

Monday

Rest and Recovery Day.

Tuesday

Easy Run in Z1-2 (RPE1-3) 40 mins.

May sure you warm up well with dynamic movements and drills and static stretch after your session.

Strength Session (see end of plan for an example strength session).

Wednesday

Swim #6 SwimRun Technique 1400m/y

Warm up: 200 FC RPE2-3 (Z2)

Main Set:

6 x 100 FC + Pull buoy & paddles @RPE 5 (Z3) RI15s

6 x 50 FC @RPE 7 (Z4) RI20s

2 x 25 kick + 25 FC (Z3)

Warm down: 200 FC RPE1-2 (Z1)

Focus: Kicking from the hip with pointed toes. Kicking will aid efficiency and hip rotation.

Thursday

Tempo Run 50 mins. Warm up well and stretch after.

Friday

Swim to Run Brick

2200m/yds swim followed by a 5k hilly or Fartlek run.

Saturday

Extra rest day.

Sunday

Brick Combo Session #3

This many take some planning as you need to do multiple swims and runs. The swims are best done in open water and the runs on trails. Also you will need to use your race kit (including pull buoy and paddles if you plan to use them) and with your partner if you are racing as a team. This is also a chance to try out your nutrition and hydration.

Remember to practice sighting, swim entrance and exits.

Always choose a safe place to swim and run and use a tow float in open water.

Warm up dry-side with a dynamic warm up.

5km Run

1500 Swim

3km Run

500 Swim

2km Run

500 Swim

Good luck and have fun!

Week 11

Welcome to week 11 of you SwimRun plan. Getting close to race day so make sure you have locked down your race kit.

Monday

Rest and Recovery Day.

Tuesday

Strength Session (see end of plan for an example strength session).

Wednesday

Swim #6 SwimRun Technique 1400m/y

Warm up: 200 FC RPE2-3 (Z2)

Main Set:

6 x 100 FC + Pull buoy & paddles @RPE 5 (Z3) RI15s

6 x 50 FC @RPE 7 (Z4) RI20s

2 x 25 kick + 25 FC (Z3)

Warm down: 200 FC RPE1-2 (Z1)

Focus: Kicking from the hip with pointed toes. Kicking will aid efficiency and hip rotation.

Thursday

Tempo Run 40 mins. Warm up well and stretch after.

Friday

Swim to Run Brick

1600m/yds swim followed by a 5k hilly or Fartlek run.

Saturday

Trail Run 55 mins Z1-3 (RPE1-5). Warm up well and stretch after.

Sunday

3000m Open Water Swim Z1-2 (RPE1-3)

MTB Bike 80 mins Z1-2 (RPE1-3)

Week 12 – Race Week!

Welcome to week 12 of you SwimRun plan. It’s race week and time to finalize your kit, nutrition, hydration, and race strategy.

Monday

Rest and Recovery Day.

Tuesday

Easy Run in Z1-2 (RPE1-3) 30 mins.

May sure you warm up well with dynamic movements and drills and static stretch after your session.

Wednesday

Extra Rest Day

Thursday

Tempo Run 40 mins. Warm up well and stretch after.

Friday

Swim: 45 min unstructured swim. This can be done at the race venue if you have arrived early.

Saturday

Rest Day – this may also be a chance to register.

Sunday

Race Day!

lthcare provider before starting a new exercise routine.

No votes yet.
Please wait...
Karen Parnell
Karen Parnellhttps://chilitri.com/one-to-one-coaching
Karen Parnell is a Level 3 British Triathlon and IRONMAN Certified Coach, WOWSA Level 3 open water swimming coach,  80/20 Endurance certified coach and NASM Personal Trainer and Sports Technology Writer. Need a training plan? I have plans on TrainingPeaks, FinalSurge and TrainingTilt: TrainingPeaks FinalSurge TrainingTilt I also coach a very small number of athletes one to one for all triathlon distances, open water swimming events and running races, email me for details and availability. Karen.parnell@chilitri.com

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisment -
- Advertisment -