How Swimming Can Make You a Better Runner

How Swimming Can Make You a Better Runner

How Swimming Can Make You a Better Runner. Whether you are a competitive runner or not, the benefits of swimming for runners are endless.

How Swimming Can Make You a Better Runner

After spending years of my life competitively swimming, I gave it up in 2010. You can read my full story here, but I was burned out. There is a season for everything. Over the last couple of years, I’ve gone on and off with swimming. The pandemic definitely affected that because it caused an unplanned break from March until September.

Running is my primary workout of choice, but I enjoy swimming a few times a week for cross-training.

How Can Swimming Make You a Better Runner?

As mentioned, the benefits of swimming for runners are endless. It doesn’t hurt to get into the pool, but yes it is more time consuming to find a pool, (now) schedule a lane, shower, and actually get there.

Active Recovery:

I am a full believer in true rest days. That means doing nothing and everyone needs them! Swimming is a great form of “active recovery.” Because swimming uses your full body, it can help alleviate muscular imbalances caused by running. Your body lengthens out, and this can help protect from injury.

Less pressure on your joints

We know running is hard on our bodies. You can still get a workout without putting stress and pressure on your joints and bones.

Greater Cardiovascular Fitness:

It’s no secret that swimming works your heart and lungs more. It causes you to focus more on your breathing, which can, in turn, help your running. The better your cardiovascular endurance, the more efficient your body is at using oxygen. This ultimately improves endurance in both running and swimming! Swimming improves your lung capacity and can help you become a better more efficient runner.

Strength Work:

Swimming makes you a better runner because it gets some (not all) of the benefits of strength work without lifting weights.  When you are swimming back and forth using the water as resistance, you build upper body strength. Why? The constant resistance of pulling and pulling against the water helps build muscle ampacity. Water has a much higher resistance than air.

Bonus: Less tan lines: 

Having access to an outdoor pool year-round is so new to me. I went to college in upstate New York, and it was sometimes snowing in October. In California, the pool is open year-round. Running outside means tan lines from compression socks, sports bras, shorts, and shoes.  When you swim outside, you only have bathing suit tan lines.  It’s perfect! Your workout and get to remove any unwanted tan lines. While swimming outdoors and removing tan lines won’t make you a better runner, it’s more fun. I think I’ve worked for years not to have compression tan lines.

PSA: Always wear sunscreen when outside. 

Like anything else, swimming isn’t for everyone. You could experiment in the pool and realize you love it, or you could experiment and realize you hate it.  At the end of the day, it’s about finding something you enjoy doing.

You can read more about swimming What’s in My Lap Swimming Bag or Swimming for Runners

Questions for you:

Do you like to swim laps?

Have you tried swimming? Has swimming made you a better runner? 


  1. I’m struggling to get back into swimming. The Uni pool near me has very poor opening hours and at my usual pool you can only book one 40minute slot. My average has dropped from 30k a month to less than 10k.

    1. Getting a time slot has been the hardest thing for me as well! Hopefully it gets easier for you!

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