EC Training (last 4 months) - Too Much or Too Little

OK, have an English Channel crossing (solo) booked in July and thought training was going well but having a few shoulder niggles and having just been on a swim camp, I canvassed opinion from a lot of very experienced swimmers about the remainder of my training. There were such wildly conflicting advice I feel a bit lost and worried about doing the wrong thing. So my plan was to ask around and use those opinions to form a new and revised training plan for the next 14 weeks or so (a scary number of weeks).

My shoulder is causing some bother but mostly I can manage - it irritates mostly when doing speed sets (I can't use paddles as they cause problems), do longer slower swims it is usually fine, or on faster stuff, fine after 2 days rest.

When I have asked how much pool/sea time I should be putting in, it ranges from

"two hard 3km speed/drill swims per week then a single long swim of 4 or 5 or 6hrs on a 3rd day each week and absolutely no more in a week except cardio gym work - and no weights in the gym"

to the other extreme which is

"you need to be building up to doing 50km per week before your tide plus weights in the gym".

So, very confused as to what to do. I am currently doing 22miles per week (some distance stuff and some sprint stuff) and 2-3 weight sessions per week. Its a lot but I am managing, was planning on 24miles per week in April, 26 in May etc until my tide - ie. ending on the 50km per week more or less. I am in the UK so as the water warms more of this will shift to lake/sea - as much as I can at least (its 99% in the pool now). I do half my normal distances one week per month to rest. People have said that this is way too much swimming overall though.

I realise that to a certain extent it is "what suits you and your life schedule" - but I quit work to train so my schedule is what I make it. I don't want to overtrain / damage something so close, but nor do I want to not prepare.

Thoughts very very welcome. Thanks in advance.



  • SoloSolo B.C. CanadaMember

    A few things to consider when you make your decisions:
    -your age
    -your long-swim history
    -are these potential injuries recent

    Also consider that burnout is just as devastating as overtraining. Good luck, and would love to hear more about your journey in swimming!

  • KatieBunKatieBun CornwallSenior Member
    edited March 25

    Trouble is, there's no "one size fits all" plan. I have huge respect for swimmers who can ramp up big yards in training but I know I wouldn't cope. Never did it, didn't swim at all until I was 40 and started to build gently in my 50s. I was given all sorts of advice from 5k to EC distance every week. It's bewildering, isn't it? It can be done on less than the magic "channel distance each week". Only you know how much is right for you but look after yourself, the niggles and the irritations. Regular sports massage and decent rests. Better to get to the start fit than injured.

  • ColmBreathnachColmBreathnach Charter Member
    edited March 25

    There's no one size fits all answer to this. It depends on your previous swim history, training ability, facilities available, your goal (just finish or go for a time) etc etc.

    Just do what you can and do your best to simulate the conditions you will have to swim in. Listen to your shoulders. Avoiding injury is the main priority.

    Bear in mind it's a long slog and is more mental than physical. Train your mind too.

    Sorry, if I'm repeating what KatieBun said

  • Thanks guys, I have tons of time on my hands (quit my work to train). Previous experience has been sort of building up to this, in 2016 I did Gibraltar and Windermere. Then had 18months off before I started training for an EC.
    I am not in a hurry to finish the swim - just finish it. Ideally in reasonable condition (if it gets too tough I am not great at gritting my teeth and taking discomfort so would rather be over trained than under).
    Sounds like I should just build a plan that I think I can do without knackering the shoulders that works for me.

  • KatieBunKatieBun CornwallSenior Member
    edited March 27

    @SkiesNPies said: (if it gets too tough I am not great at gritting my teeth and taking discomfort so would rather be over trained than under).

    Overtraining can so easily cause injury so is probably more likely to have you gritting your teeth! Hope you find a happy medium. ;-)

  • I probably used a poor choice of words, I think maybe "over prepared" might have been a better phrase :smile:

  • MvGMvG Islamabad, PakistanCharter Member

    At the risk of repeating what has already been said above, here's a few general rules that I have learned over the past decade as a relatively lazy swimmer:

    • I would always prefer (slight) undertraining to overtraining. Avoiding injury and, just as important, mental swim fatigue is key.
    • 50 km a week for a Channel crossing seems unnecessary if you have no particular ambitions for a speedy time - half that weekly distance or even slightly less can get you across also - I am living proof of that. It isore important to build ever bigger 1 (up to 70% of distance) or 2-day (crossing distance over two days) training peaks to mimic the extreme effort of a crossing than to slog it out day after day with the risk of mental fatigue
    • Weights are very useful cross training! So is rowing.
    • Don't forget your sprints. A few sets with 50-200 meter repeats a few days a week does wonders for your cruising speed.
      Good luck!
  • Thank you. Good to know.

  • MvGMvG Islamabad, PakistanCharter Member
    edited March 27

    On the other hand, if you have looming shoulder problems, drop the sprints and the weights, as they are (IMHO) useful but not essential for making it across.

  • swimmer2point0swimmer2point0 Santa Monica, CAMember

    I'm training for my first real marathon swim summer with the ambition of a Catalina crossing. I get shoulder issues as well, and have been advised to get physical therapy. Seeing a PT person and getting exercises has been very helpful. I would have never thought to do that myself - I was doing exercises I found on the internet for swimmer's shoulder (which also were pretty good, but not as good by a long shot!)

  • ColmBreathnachColmBreathnach Charter Member

    @MvG said:
    At the risk of repeating what has already been said above, here's a few general rules that I have learned over the past decade as a relatively lazy swimmer:

    Says the guy who set a speed record for the north channel ;-)

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