USRPT for marathon swim training?

miklcctmiklcct Kowloon, Hong KongMem​ber
edited February 12 in Beginner Questions

USRPT (Ultra Short Race Pace Training) is designed to work for 100 - 1500 m events, and for 1500 m, 24 - 30 reps of 100 m are suggested.

I love the idea of USRPT for fast feedback and specificity, however, is it possible to adapt this training method to longer race distance, e.g. 5 km, 10 km or even 25 km, e.g. offering 1.5 - 2x of race distance using 200 m - 400 m intervals at race speed, with 20 seconds rest each.



  • laureninnjlaureninnj Member
    edited February 12

    So I do use a variation of USRPT for marathon swim training. I have found that, for me, I don't have the time (or desire) to do big volume training in the pool. Most of my repeats are 100s, although I have done them using 125s or 150s, but it is rare. I have found the high intensity is a good substitute for volume. I typically do these workouts on "double" days. So my main set in the morning might be 30x100 @ 1:50, with a "hold" pace of 1:26. In the afternoon, my main set would be 16x75 @ 1:25, with a hold pace of 1:03. If I miss one, I sit one out. If I miss two, I swim the rest easy. Early in the season I'll start with 25s and 50s and build over a few months. I also find this type of training helps me mentally because I have to stay really focused or I'll fall apart. I rarely go over 30k yards a week and I've had a couple of successful swims using this approach. Hope this helps.

  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited February 13

    Agree with @laureninnj that intensity can compensate (to some extent) for volume in training for long swims.

    I've never personally tried the purest form of race-pace training (as defined by USRPT), but I think it is probably quite effective in maximizing speed for a given distance ("train fast to swim fast"). So, if your goal is to swim 5K as fast as possible, doing sets of 200s or 400s at your target 5K pace will probably help.

    USRPT becomes a bit meaningless for ultra-long distances. What does "race pace" even mean for a 20-mile swim? 50 miles? Beyond a certain distance, it just converges on our "forever pace" - at which point there's no difference between race-pace and "long slow distance" training.

    For further reading, there's an interesting discussion on the USMS forum:

  • brunobruno Barcelona (Spain)Member

    For long distance swim you must be ready to suffer. And for this you have to train, too. I can't see how one can be prepared to suffer, if you are only doing comfortable series of 50 or 100m.

  • stephenrouchstephenrouch Indianapolis, INMember

    I did most of my training the first couple of years for marathon swimming this way. Short focused practices, usually about 75 minutes, and around 20-25K per week. It served me well, but after about 15 miles or so I start to get tired. And the last couple of years this has forced me to add in long practices and swims.

    As a swim season progresses one long marathon swim starts to serve as training for the next one.

  • david_barradavid_barra NYCharter Member

    @stephenrouch said:

    As a swim season progresses one long marathon swim starts to serve as training for the next one.



    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.

  • miklcctmiklcct Kowloon, Hong KongMem​ber

    @david_barra said:

    @stephenrouch said:

    As a swim season progresses one long marathon swim starts to serve as training for the next one.


    Unfortunately I am planning to do only 1, at most 2 marathon swimming races per year because I can't find anymore nearby.

  • ColmBreathnachColmBreathnach Charter Member

    I found this link, which gives a good insight into USRPT.

    As @evmo has said, I don't know how relevant it is as the distances increase into OW marathon territory, but worth a read at least. The sets are hard though. Designed not to be completed.

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