How to train for a marathon and a 4.4 mile swim (at the same time)

split personality 001 224x300 How to train for a marathon and a 4.4 mile swim (at the same time)

My split personality

I’ve had a lot of questions about how I’m going to train for both Boston and the Chesapeake Bay Swim at the same time. Well, here’s the deal–I’m not quite sure!

But I’m also not sweating it. Look, for me, running will always come first. It’s my love, my passion. Swimming? A distant second.

That doesn’t mean I don’t want to get across that Bay. And it doesn’t mean I won’t. But I’m NOT going to worry about how long it takes me to get across.

So for now the plan is to focus on marathon training, with a healthy dose of swimming thrown in. I’m trying to swim three times/week, with one of those swims at about 3,000 to 3,500 yds, potentially more if I start a master’s practice soon. Once I’ve passed Patriot’s Day, I’ll have about eight more weeks until the swim. That will be “cram for test” time.

At that stage in the game I will cut back on my running a bit and start adding in a fourth day of swimming. I’ll also build one day a week of swimming up to the 6,000-  to 7,000-yd. range. (yikes)

Swimming is one area where I can check my competitive self at the door. It’s like yoga to me–it enhances my running and my life, but I don’t have to be the best in the biz at it to be happy.

And so–that’s my pathetic excuse for a plan! What do you think?

If you haven’t been by Jamoosh’s blog yet this week, do so. You’ll notice a conspicuous Baltimore Ravens logo on the right sidebar. Yep, he lost a bet with me and since his Texans went down, he’ll be proudly displaying the Ravens colors all week! Thank you, Jamoosh!


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  1. I have the same outlook. I swim to relax, and XT to stay healthy at my running. If I ever do the Bay Swim, and I can totally see myself doing that one, it will just be to get across. Enjoy the process.
    Mara @Big Happy Family recently posted..Mid-termsMy Profile

  2. You are a rockstar! If only swimming had that effect on me… I feel like I’m gong to drown and I get all panicky in water!! Teach me your ways! I seriously think you’ve got it down. The plan sounds great :)
    Christina @ the athletarian recently posted..Guilt-free deliciousnessMy Profile

  3. Agreed, it’s an “enhancer” to running :)

    I am not by any means fast… I just get through it haha.

    You will do fine, your running will feel great w/ all that swim distance, will be a HUGE cardio boost!

    Still happy you are crushing these runs :)
    Matt Oravec recently posted..Beard and Chicken Pot Pie picture dumpMy Profile

  4. Are wetsuits allowed for the Bay swim? If so, just do the minimum swim training and float on in – just like most of IM people do (-:

    Is that water brackish? If so, have they ever had sharks in there? That would just make for a better story after the race, “Yeah, I swam 4.4mi in shark infested waters…”
    Jeff Irvin recently posted..Olympic Trials & Houston MarathonMy Profile

  5. I am totally impressed by your plan. I would steal it from you if not for the fact that at the moment (and that will be a looong moment) I do not have any swimming adventures planned, unless some virtual friend talks me into some (don’t you get any crazy ideas here). ;-)
    Ewa recently posted..Playing a tag gameMy Profile

  6. reading you really, really makes me want to swim. I’ve heard it DOES do wonderful things for runners. I think your “plan” seems great. As long as you can complete the distance in the swim then who cares about your time and the marathon is MUCH more important!!!!
    Ali Mc recently posted..Big Thanks, Baked Potatoes and Birthday fun!My Profile

  7. Proudly? Ha! I seriously considered not publishing this week just so people wouldn’t have a reason to stop by. But I don’t roll like that.
    Jamoosh recently posted..Houston Hates MeMy Profile

  8. ha! That picture is great. The plan sounds good to me. I’m doing something similar with my tri training… half ironman in June. hmmm… LOL, I will crank it up after Boston!
    Marlene recently posted..Boston Training – Week 2My Profile

  9. I think that if you keep a decent base until after boston, you’ll be fine. 8 weeks is a lot of time!! and, nice pic :)
    katie recently posted..three things thursday on tuesdayMy Profile

  10. I have never caught the swimming bug, even though I know it would be better for me in order to relieve stress and strain of a running day. I just feel awkward and non-bouyant in the water and never get that satisfied feeling that I do after a run. So I admire the dual goal, and can see the zen result of a swim.

  11. That is awesome! I couldn’t swim to save my life. Like I know how but nothing for a race or anything!! Can’t wait to see the results!
    Holly recently posted..C25K Week 2My Profile

  12. My first question is… Is your upper body morphing to look like the Hulk? When I up my swim distance (currently I swim almost 2000 2 x a week) I get to looking crazy strong. I wonder if it does the same to other people??

    Congrats on the Ravens win!! Purple is still alive! :)

    That’s a great pic! I wear a bicycle necklace and I’m almost not sure why as I feel like I live on the darn thing.
    Coy recently posted..The beat downMy Profile

  13. Im rebuilding my running base right now and will be starting training for a half scheduled in June and sept and a full in Nov. I want to start swimming to cross train, expecially once my mileage gets back up there. Right now Im spinning for cross training. Problem is I cant get the rotary breathing thing down. I constantly feel like Im out of breath. I hired a training and did 3 sessions but it wasnt a right fit and I didnt get any better. Any suggestions?
    Christina recently posted..weigh in – the good vs the badMy Profile

  14. Sounds like an awesome plan to me!!! Good luck! I am certain you will kick ass in both events.
    Allison Johnson recently posted..Last Long Run… 7 days to go!My Profile

  15. Love that shirt!

    I feel the same way as you do about swimming – running is really my thing, but swimming is so calming :)

    I can’t wait to see more of your bay swim training!
    Kim recently posted..Walt Disney Marathon Relay 2012My Profile

  16. You’re my hero for swimming that much! I can hardly swim at all so just thinking about your training is daunting. You will do great because you always do and bravo to you for taking on both!
    Kate @ Run with Kate recently posted..So Many EmotionsMy Profile

  17. I am loving the pic. It might go up there with the best google and swim cap pics of all time but for now Marlene takes the cake on that one. Oh wait, can you both bring your goggles and caps to Boston and take a picture together? Two of my favorite people in their swim gear would probably make me pee myself.

    As for swim training……all you need is form. Form will make you faster. You will be fit from your marathon training and so won’t need a ton of work in the pool.
    Jason @ Cook Train Eat Race recently posted..Ironman Texas Training – Week #4 VLOGMy Profile

  18. Sounds like a reasonable plan!
    Kovas recently posted..Tuesday Tasting: René Barbier Mediterranean WhiteMy Profile

  19. I think your plan sounds awesome! You have your priorities and your training reflects that! I’m just so happy for you and your successes that I could burst!
    Jen recently posted..Hiking and Biking and Lessons LearnedMy Profile

  20. That’s a great picture! And that’s how I feel about everything but running too. There are races, and there are adventures. Your swim will be the latter! Boston will be the former!
    Terzah recently posted..The Olympic Marathon TrialsMy Profile

  21. My fast swim and my slow swim are the same speed so I think I may not be the best one to tell you I think the plan looks great! But I think it does. Getting across that bay will be amazing, just channel you inner Dori from Finding Nemo “just keep swimming, just keep swimming.”. :-)
    Missy recently posted..Quick GranolaMy Profile

  22. Makes sense to me. I’ve had a split personality between running and adventure racing for a few years, and finally just embraced the fact that I’ll always enjoy the running more than the biking. So, I try to find balance between the two and try not to be too hard on myself when I’m doing one more than the other.
    Abby @ Have Dental Floss, WIll Travel recently posted..Getting My Ski OnMy Profile

  23. That sounds like a great plan!! Boston and 4.4… whew!! ROCK STAR :) And I thought I was the only one who posed for pictures in my cap and goggles outside of the pool!
    Victoria recently posted..Charleston Half Marathon RecapMy Profile

  24. Oh gosh I totally didn’t notice the Ravens – that is hilarious! Congrats to you even though I am still actually a little weepy after the Saints’ loss.
    Gracie recently posted..Louisiana Marathon: Race RecapMy Profile

  25. I have no doubt in my head you will pull it off flawlessly! You have enough stamina in you to finish the swim, without even practicing. I think we swim alike :).
    Jill recently posted..Let’s take a look into 2012My Profile

  26. You’ll have no problem doing both! The swim distances are insane that you will be swimming.

  27. I totally admire that you’ve taken on both challenges. I have no advice, nothing to offer except my encouragement. You can do it!

  28. I agree – for me swimming is like yoga! It helps me stay in shape for running and helps me run better! I am sure you will do great with swimming and running!
    J recently posted..Whole Living Cleanse: Week 2My Profile

  29. Sounds like a great plan! I know you’ll kick some bootie in both:)
    Laima recently posted..Manna Organics Bread GiveawayMy Profile

  30. Lady, you’re crazy – in all the right ways!!! Woot!!
    Wish I could get into swimming like that. Then again, I felt the same way about running a few years ago! Maybe there’s a swimmer in there, too … somewhere!
    Kathy Reed recently posted..A Fabulous Morning at The Olympic TrialsMy Profile

  31. I’m so not into swimming, but I have 2 x IRONMAN to my name!!! Now believe me when I say it didn’t really swim much in training, for me ironman was as good at finished after I got out the water. So if you are going for a finish and not a time, you are swimming more than enough, you running with help with the fitness…
    Coach Dion recently posted..IF THERE IS A RACE RUN IT…My Profile

  32. I think it’s FANTASTIC that you are doing both so close together! I totally think it’s doable to train for more than one type of race at a time. I am beginning (hope in the next 2 weeks) to train for my 1st IM in Aug while training to run a May marathon. Like you, I will use the biking and swimming as good cross-training / off / recovery days for the hard running I will be doing. And then once the marathon ends, it’s cram time! YIKES. And like you, my #1 goal is to finish. =)
    You seem to have a good handle on fitting both in =)
    Michele @ nycrunningmama recently posted..Sparkly Soul Headbands Giveaway Winner!My Profile

  33. I love your plan! Always good to have something in mind :) You are a rock star!!

    I also like your attitude about swimming:

    ” Swimming is one area where I can check my competitive self at the door. It’s like yoga to me–it enhances my running and my life, but I don’t have to be the best in the biz at it to be happy.”

    I really enjoy swimming for that reason – I don’t feel too competitive, I just like doing it.
    Kara recently posted..Running: Physiology vs.The MindMy Profile

  34. It is all kind of bad a@@ -ness! I think I would lose the shoes before I got in the pool though… ;)
    Karen recently posted..Best Meals Happen at Home Publix Giveaway!My Profile

  35. Good for you! The Bay swim scares the crap out of me. A couple of tri teammates of mine are signed up and I think they’re out of their minds…in the same way they think I’m out of my mind for signing up fro JFK 50! Good luck with the training!
    Racingtales – Alison Gittelman recently posted..Men in TightsMy Profile

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