(info about the Lexington Athletic Club swim lessons HERE)
There’s only so many miles that you can run in a week. At some point, no matter how fast or fit you are, your body will break down from the repetitive stress that running places on the joints of the lower extremities.
The good news: To get faster, you don’t necessarily have to run more miles. Yes, you’ll still need to run for the majority of your training, but supplementing with other activities is a good way to take your running to the next level without risking injury.
Instead of piling on the miles, incorporate swimming into your training regimen to improve your strength, aerobic fitness and flexibility, all without placing any additional impact stress on your knees and ankles.
The Cross-Training Solution
Swimming is a great way to recover in between hard days of training. You’ll still get an excellent aerobic workout and train different muscles that will help with your running economy. It can also help strengthen your lungs through hypoxic training, improve ankle flexibility, and allow you to boost your weekly training volume without risking injury.
If you aren’t sure how to include swimming into your running routine, try swapping out an afternoon recovery run or a 4-mile morning jog with quality time in the pool.
Try these three swim workouts to train smarter and get faster.
Workout #1: The Puller
A good way to let your legs recover is to use a pull buoy on your main swim sets. It will allow your legs to recover and make your upper body do most of the work. This is a great workout to try after a morning session at the track.
Warm-up: Swim 400 meters at an easy pace.
Main set: Complete 6 x 200 pull builds. Increase your speed every 25 meters. Start slow and finish with a sprint.
Cooldown: Swim 400 meters without the buoy at a recovery pace.
Workout #2: Lung Builder
This exercise will strengthen your lung capacity by limiting the number of breaths you take during the set.
Please note: Do not hold your breath during this exercise. Instead, practice controlling your breath so that you exhale slowly when your face is in the water. Take a controlled breath as indicated below.
Warm-up: Swim 200 to 400 meters at an easy pace.
Main set: Complete 12 x 100 meters. For the first 25 meters, take a breath every three strokes. From 25 to 50 meters, take a breath every five strokes, and from 50 to 75 meters, take a breath only every seven strokes. Sprint for the last 25 meters of the set.
Cooldown: Swim 100 to 200 meters easy.
Workout #3: The Kicker
The kick in swimming works to strengthen the hip flexors, IT band and hamstrings without adding the pounding you would get on the road. If you want to increase your ankle flexibility during this workout, use a pair of short-nosed flippers.
Warm-up: Swim 200 to 400 meters easy.
Main set: Complete five sets of the following interval: 50 meters easy, 100 meters fast kick, 50 meters easy, 100 meters fast swim, followed by 15 to 20 seconds of rest. Repeat.
Cooldown: Swim 200 to 400 meters at a recovery pace.
You’ll notice that these workouts are only 1600 meters in length. For a swimmer, 1600 meters isn’t much, but for a runner it should be more than enough. You’ll stretch your legs and get in a great cardiovascular and muscular workout.