Cross training: swimming for runners

Cross training: swimming for runners

Getting back in the pool

It may have been many years since you took a dip in your local pool, so you may feel a little apprehensive. Check out the timetable at your local swimming pool and scout out the specific lane-swimming hours to avoid the pool being over crowded. Take both a 20p and £1 coin as the lockers are likely to use one or the other.

If you’re feeling a little under confident, opt for the slow lane while you remind yourself of the different strokes. The first step is just getting used to being in the water again. Don’t try to put too much pressure on yourself for that first session.

Swimming for runners: how to get started

If you’re looking to run in your current schedule for a swim, swap out an easy run and aim to swim for the same duration that your run would take. You can take rest breaks between lengths if you need to.

“The key to swimming is to slow down and make each stroke count” says Jude. “People often put too much effort into kicking and their arm movements, and this just exhausts them. The more relaxed you are, the more time you have to breath and the more enjoyable it will be.”

Improving your technique

It’s possible to make big improvements in your swimming by working on your technique. If you’re finding it hard work or you’re returning to the pool after a long break, having some lessons can help.

“Any stroke will do but if you lack confidence or technique, investing in lessons or 1-2-1 coaching can make the difference. You are never too old to learn or to improve. There are lots of pools, open water spots and groups around the UK and an internet search will open lots of possibilities.”

Getting your technique right in the pool can benefit your running too. A correct front crawl, for example, means kicking your leg from the hip using the glutes. However, many runners will try to kick from the knees when they first swim. Perfecting this motion is a great way to activate and strengthen the glutes which, in turn, leads to increased running power.

Reaping the rewards of swimming for runners

While you might be motivated to try swimming for the cardiovascular benefits, it has much more than just fitness to offer.

“Move from the pool to outdoors and the benefits multiply” says Jude. “Cold water dipping or swimming improves mental wellbeing and can help manage the symptoms of menopause or injury. People who regularly immerse themselves in open water gain from reduced levels of stress and anxiety plus all the enjoyment that nature brings.”

Once you’ve mastered swimming, you might want to try a swim-run or a train for a triathlon.

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