By: Jess

Coming back from a glute injury, my training has been going much better than I expected. I thought I’d have a lot of work to do to catch up to my previous level of fitness, but when I started doing tempo workouts again I found that I was actually in quite good shape.

Looking back, it was probably the cross-training (and joining the local triathlon club) that has helped me maintain fitness. While injured I’ve been doing a lot less running but I’ve managed to swim three times a week.

Now that my glute is recovering I can run more, but I’ve kept up with the swimming as well since I’ve really enjoyed it. I’m especially loving my Tuesday workout: swim/gym in the morning, run after work!

Adding swimming to a training routine may not seem like the obvious choice to a runner, but I like it, and it seems to be helping; it’s only been a few weeks and I’ve reached a point where I have been getting 5K PBs almost every weekend. Two weeks ago my PB dropped from 21.53 to 21.30 and last weekend I managed to shave another 27 seconds off! My PB is now 20.53 which was unthinkable three months ago!

To give some context about how amazing this achievement is for me – I’ve been consistently running 22.30-23.30 for nearly half a year (when I was doing about 40-50km a week).

Coincidence? I think not!
My theory is that swimming does more than you think – it helps build a general endurance base that, when used properly, can help you run faster! Also my running sessions are now more focused.


I know swimming isn’t for everyone, and many runners would rather sport blisters than plod up and down for a set number of lengths. But through my always foggy goggles, I’m seeing some upsides beyond the conditioning benefits.

Specifically:

– Breathing more efficiently: when you’re swimming you have to stick to a breathing rhythm – you only get to breathe at certain times. This improves lung function because of the controlled way you learn to breath. Once you learn to breathe better, you can run better!

– Preventing injuries: swimming works different muscle groups, all of which are beneficial to running. One particular area that is worked in front crawl is the glutes. As many of you know, the cause of my latest running injuries is ‘lazy’ glutes (caused by a failure to use this muscle group properly). A correct front crawl leg kick utilises the glutes – a great way to activate and strengthen this neglected muscle.

– Toning up: I haven’t taken up any dieting plan, so I was surprised to see that I lost about 3kg since taking up swimming. My abs, shoulders and arms look better too – likely from the elbows up / torso rotating movements!

– Getting that ‘happy’ feeling: I do three swims a week, each session lasting 1-1.3km. When you poke through the water like I do, that distance can takea ridiculously long time. That’s many minutes of looking down at a line, no music, no scenery, nothing but your mind counting wall touches – but because swimming is so rhythmical, it’s like doing yoga in water and there’s a strangely calming element about it – which is really liberating.

So there you have it – my top tip for getting a 5K PB, start swimming.I can’t guarantee this will work for everybody but it worked for me so I hope this will work for you too!

Happy running/swimming!

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