Guest Post: Why Runners Should Become Swimmers Tomorrow

Hi, friends. I am so excited to share a guest post with you all today from Iona Paterson, a former competitive swimmer and personal trainer based in Glasgow. Iona recently reached out to me, asking if she could share why swimming can help you lose weight and complement your recovery for running. Obviously, I was thrilled to share her post with you and feel that it’s beyond informative! Enjoy!

On your quest to get fit and healthy it can be too easy to get sucked into one form of exercise. This can lead to plateaus, or even burnout or exhaustion. It is very important for the body to have to try to adapt to new forms of exercise.

Many people will add in cardio vascular machines like treadmills, rowing machines or cross trainers to their routine because it is handy. The trouble is that if you do this for a long period of time the body adapts and the results slow down. Furthermore, if you struggle with mobility or have an injury, this form of exercise could potentially lead to further injury.

Swimming is great for people who are injured as it puts little to no pressure on the joints as you are constantly supported by the water. It is also a very rewarding addition to a runner’s’ training routine as it aids recovery and offers a change from the usual routine.

Sandy Bikus, a USA Triathlon coach and NASM Certified Personal Trainer stated:

“Swimming is really an anti-inflammatory therapy for the legs when performed in cool temperatures less than 80 degrees.”

A Full-Body Workout

Swimming can complement your daily routine as it works all the major muscle groups in your body, and helps to strengthen muscles that you otherwise may never use whilst running. It’s also great for developing your core muscles as you are constantly trying to maintain your balance in the water.

Many people will not consider using swimming as a form of exercise but it can be very beneficial for fat loss as it burns a lot of calories. This is because when you swim you use your quads, hamstrings, pecs, shoulders, lats and triceps and core strength, meaning it is very hard work for your body.
It’s also good for getting your heart rate up as it is taxing on your heart and lungs, as you have limited breath. This is especially useful for runners, as adding swimming into your training can help increase endurance and oxygen capacity.

Variety is Crucial

Another benefit of swimming is that there can be more variety within workouts than there are in running. You can practise different strokes and drills, or you can simply do kick (only using your legs) or pull (only using your arms) depending on what you need to work on.

Furthermore, if fat loss is your goal, you can even do a form of HIIT (high intensity interval training in the water). Interval training is a great way to do cardio as it is fast and effective, however it must be done correctly. Studies have shown that in order for HIIT to be fully effective you must reach between 80-100% of your VO2max, meaning you need to work very hard.

An example of a swimming HIIT workout you can add to your routine is:

8x 25m lengths warm up: taking as much rest as you need between lengths making sure to keep good technique and warm up your body fully.

8x 25m MAX effort sprints taking 30-60s rest between sprints

4x 25m easy swim down

Just remember: do not be afraid to start slow. You may need to build up your stamina before you can complete the session above, however when you can, you will be able to see the progress you have made and you will be even more proud of yourself. I hope this article inspires you to try something new and add swimming to your current training.

-Iona Paterson

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