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.