Everything running swimmingly

I love sport. Except golf. And perhaps American football which makes absolutely no sense to me (wait for Maria’s comment below). And if someone asks I will first describe myself as a runner. After all, I run. And I love it. And I marvel at others that run. And I like watching and sharing it with them.

But I also love swimming. Last year when I was injured and on a running embargo, I set myself a swimming marathon challenge: 26.2 miles in 26 days. I completed it in 24. And my hair didn’t go green and I didn’t grow fins, which was a bonus. Actually, I was in the best shape ever. Swimming a mile or two a day did sharpen my already broad ‘swimmer’s shoulders’ (“Do you swim?” I have been asked by strangers in pubs. “Are you asking because of my shoulders?” “Well…”) and leaned me out. Plus with post swim saunas and steam rooms my skin always felt totally clean and soft.

In the past few weeks I have been swimming at least once a week, sometimes twice. And I have noticed how it has made a difference on my runs. And in turn how running has helped my swimming. The muscles I use and build swimming seem to be stronger when I run and help to power me along (I am always trying to use my arms a bit more). And I feel running has helped my breathing when swimming. I breathe slower and easier rather than in gulps at each stroke. And they both help with fitness.

Alternating between swimming and running makes me feel I am getting the best of both  worlds: the diversity and interest of the streets when I run and the serenity and solitude of the pool (if only I lived in hotter climes, next to a clear blue ocean…) when I swim. And they compliment each other physically: the hard pounding of the pavement and then the gentler kicking through water; the shoulders powering through the pool and then the softer rhythm they employ when running.

Here is a quote from a swimming great, Aleksandr Popov. “The water is your friend… you don’t have to fight with water, just share the same spirit as the water, and it will help you move.”

Maybe us runners can look at our roads and parks, or wherever we run, in the same way swimmers see their water.


About Laura Alonso

We run. We travel. And to combine both is a beautiful thing. "Runners just do it. They go for the finish line even though someone else has reached it first."

Posted on May 16, 2012, in Running, Training and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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