Running for Swimmers

Athletes, including swimmers, should incorporate different exercises into their workout routines to obtain muscle variance and cardiovascular fitness.

Running is a popular cross-training exercise for swimming as it is a good form of cardio that helps maintain a healthy weight.

Even though swimmers may run just for cross-training, it is still important to mix up the workouts in order to use different muscles and prevent injury and boredom.

Some days, you should go for long easy runs to build up endurance while other training sessions should include a track workout to incorporate speed. If you do not have a track close by, simply bring a watch and run sprint intervals between 15 and 30 seconds—broken up by a one-minute jogs—around the block.

Fuel

Nutrition plays an important part in running as well as swimming. Eating lean meat and low-fat foods will inevitably help develop a lighter body composition. However, carbohydrates are essential to replenish the energy expended during exercise. 

In addition to proper food, you should always stay hydrated. Runners are more susceptible to cramping when dehydrated. Drinking a sports drink, especially after a workout, will help replenish the electrolytes and salt that is lost through sweat.

Form

Good running form is imperative. Hip, knee, ankle and quad injuries are some of the problems that could develop if you have poor running form. 

Since running with your heel first can sometimes lead to hip flexor injuries, some coaches suggest having the ball of the foot strike first while others recommend a more flat-foot approach. Try both forms to see what feels and works best.

You should also relax your shoulders and maintain even breathing for a smoother run. Breathing rhythms in running are a little more difficult to maintain than when you're swimming. Try starting with one breath in for every two steps you take, then one breath out for two steps.

Gear

Good running shoes are a must and there are numerous brands to choose from that accommodate different types of feet. Go to a running store and have your running stride analyzed so that an experienced store representative can help you find the right shoe for your foot type.

Flat-footed athletes may need a shoe with more support while someone with a stable arch may find a lighter shoe more beneficial. 

Warm-Up

Finally, a proper warm-up and cool down period will help prevent against injury and sore muscles. It's important to prepare your body for the hard effort to come, and to let it to slow down at the end to absorb the workout.

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St. Petersburg Swimming Fitness Examiner Jessica Pall is a former college swimmer who continues to train and compete in triathlons and other open water races.

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