Cross Training: Swimming for Runners

With blistered feet I was sulking at the prospect of not being ale to run for what looked to be a full week. “What’s this going to do to my times?” I moaned. When suddenly it occured to me that running’s not the only sport in the world! I had heard that swimming was meant to be good as a cross training exercise for runners anyway and, as a kid and teenager I was rarely out of the swimming pool.

Runners cross training - swimming

Swimming for runners

So off I went last night to the local pool, which seemed a lot smaller than when I last went there 15 years ago. I swam for around 45 minutes, in which time I did 60 laps (about 1.5k), varying my strokes between a fast breaststroke and a freestyle/front crawl. Wow, that front crawl really took my breath away! 50 meters of full sprint front crawl was about all I could manage before having to switch back to breaststroke.

This is what the website has to say about swimming as a workout for runners:

“To get a workout roughly equivalent to running, you have to swim only about 1/4 as far as you would run. For interval workouts, for example, 100 meter repeats in the pool would be about equivalent to 400 meter repeats on the track. A six mile run could be mimicked by a 1.5 mile swim.”

I really enjoyed my swim and can definitely feel the benefits through sore muscles this morning. I’ll aim to do a good swimming workout at least once a fortnight in future. So there we go – every cloud has a silver lining as getting blisters reacquainted me with my love of swimming!

Some swimming workouts I found which may be useful in future:

1. From Runner’s World

Start out with about 10 laps (back and forth across the pool equals one lap), which is slightly more than a quartermile at a typical pool. Increase your time in the water and minimize fatigue (and boredom) by sandwiching pool-running in between sets of laps.

2. From Time Magazine

Sample Swimming Workout: 1,500 yards (60 lengths or 30 laps)

Warm-up: 10 sets of 50 yards (one lap) of easy swimming, focusing on your form and comfort (total of 500 yards)

Main Set: 5 sets of 150 yards. Swim 100 yards steady and 50 yards easy. This is an endurance set, your goal is to maintain similar effort across all of the repeats. Use each of the easy 50-yard swims for recovery, and take as much time as you need on the wall to rest between efforts.

Cool Down: 5 sets of 50 yards of easy swimming, focusing on form and comfort