Training: Why runners should swim
Consider swimming as part of your training routine

There's only so many miles that you can run in a week. At some point your body will start complaining from the repetitive stress. Adding variety is often a good idea anyway to keep things interesting and you motivated. Slotting a regular swim into your training routine can deliver significant benefits.

Why swim?

Swimming is a low-impact, whole-body workout that uses all your main muscles and joints. It can help improve your strength, aerobic fitness, flexibility and burns calories. Crucially it does all this without placing any additional impact stress on your knees and ankles.

Active recovery

Running regularly will take it's toll on your body. Swimming is a great activity to do in between. You'll still get an excellent aerobic workout and train different muscles that will help with your running economy. By keeping the effort and time relatively easy and short and giving your body a break from the impact and intensity of running, you can keep exercising whilst promoting recovery and set yourself up for your next scheduled run.

Change the routine

Swimming distance at a moderate or comfortably hard effort is great for building stamina and lung capacity. But there are other things you can do in the pool. Try interval training - short, higher-intensity bursts by swimming hard for one length, followed by rest to catch your breath, and repeat four to six times. Varying your stroke adds a different challenge and exercises your muscles in different ways. You can even try deep water running using a flotation belt, a great way to simulate running without impact and against the resistance of the water.

How much swimming should I do?

The run to swim ratio is about 4:1, meaning that four miles of running equals one mile of swimming. In a standard 25m pool that's around 64 lengths. But remember you are using different muscles, so don't expect your swim / run times to match up, well not immediately anyway.

Which stroke should I use

There's really no right answer to this one, and it often helps to vary it. However it might be worth noting that breaststroke, although the slowest of all four competitive strokes, burns as many calories per hour as swimming fast freestyle.

Fast is not always best

When running or cycling, moving your legs faster means you move faster. The same is not true when swimming any kind of distance. Concentrate on technique and let your arms do the work - they are much better suited to propelling you forward through water. Frantically kicking your legs will only produce more drag.

How to get started

If you haven't been swimming for a while, it's natural to feel a little apprehensive. Check out the timetable at your local swimming pool and look for the dedicated lane-swimming hours to avoid the pool being over crowded (and filled with children)! To build your confidence, maybe opt for the slow lane while you remind yourself of the different strokes. 

Like most activities, poor technique can be detrimental. Don't be afraid to ask about swimming lessons to help improve the mechanics of each stroke, and especially your breathing. It will bring long term benefits.

Please seek medical advice before starting any kind of intensive training or exercise plan.




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