How I wish I can do more interval run training prior to my first 21 Km marathon of the year. But my body, especially my legs, are telling me to avoid the constant pounding on the pavement. I have also been recovering from a plantar fasciitis on my right foot, so the last thing I would want to happen is to race this weekend with an injury. So what do you do when you want to sustain your fitness level, but don’t want to run and get an injury? The answer is – swimming.
Following are some of the key benefits of swimming to runners.
- Sustains and improves your aerobic endurance gained from running. If you want an equally challenging aerobic exercise, swimming will be a perfect alternative to running. Like running, swimming relies a lot on your aerobic capacity to sustain the exercise. So whether you swim a constant pace for a long distance (750 m to 1.5 Km), or do sprints for short lengths of the pool (8 x 50 meters), swimming can sustain or even improve your aerobic endurance. If you use a heart rate monitor, you can easily compare your heart rate performance with that when you are running, and you will see the similarity in your average and peak heart rates.
- Teaches your body to pace better. Swimming requires rhymic breathing to efficiently move through the water, like breathing every evens (2 or 4) or odds (3) strokes. This will teach your body the skill of pacing, which is equally important in running. If you find yourself starting your run too fast, then bonking in the later part of the race, then swimming will teach you to consistently maintain a pace that you can hold throughout the race.
- Builds your upper body strength. Runners usually have weak upper bodies. Swimming is a great total body work-out that will strengthen not only your shoulder muscles and upper back, but also your core muscles and hip flexors. This will improve your balance and stride control in running.
- Reduces your risk of injury. Besides avoiding the constant pounding on the pavement from running, swimming strengthens the flexibility of your ankles and hip flexors through kicking in the water. This then lowers your risk of IT (Illiotibial) band, knee, foot, and ankle injuries. Swimming also builds lower body strength which can heal muscle imbalances and prevent common injuries, such as achilles tendinitis (inflammation of the achilles tendon) and shinsplints.
- Helps you recover better. Because swimming is non-impact, it is gentle to the body. It is the ideal option for active recovery because it offers a cardiovascular work-out without the usual strain on the knees and ankles. Water itself with a temperature around 27 degrees Centigrade can be therapeutic and reduce muscle inflammation, especially after intense running.
So there! Don’t feel guilty when you miss or cannot follow your usual run training regimen due to injury and/or insufficient recovery. Hit the waters and swim! Your body will thank you for it!
Thanks for reading, and don’t let anyone stop you from pursuing your dreams. Find-out how MOBE MTTB can help you! See you soon.