Only about a week into June but…Better late than never right?
May brought a lot of changes to my training, mainly, a focus and a fall goal. Before last month, I didn’t have a goal race. I had a rough plan that I wanted to “get back in shape.” I wanted to run a bunch of local races and just build fitness on it.
Then I was selected to run the Big Cottonwood Marathon. I’m still planning to race frequently and get the speed in, but I’m also going to add in long runs. I’m not going to run a lot of long runs because I know I’ll burn out, plus running long in the 90-degree summer isn’t always the most enjoyable thing.
The focus of the month was to begin getting back into shape and consistently log miles. May, June, and July all have the same goal to keep consistently building miles. I’m not going to build to 100-mile weeks or anything, but I am going to keep building. I’m not in the same shape as a year ago, and I’m not in the same shape as when I set my half marathon PR a year and a half ago. Do I think I can get back to that in 100 days? No, but I’m going to work towards what I can do.
All of my races last month were ok, not great. I don’t have any that stand out to me, but I’ve also been running on tired legs. I haven’t tapered for any, and I won’t taper for any in June either.
Swimming has been good, and I’m glad I’m getting back into the pool. I don’t feel any “fitter” from swimming, and I don’t think the fitness will translate, but I’m enjoying it. I appreciate how I can mindlessly swim laps without a care in the world.
In June, I would like to get more fit than I am right now. That seems like a broad goal, and it is, but it’s the only goal. I just want to work on my fitness and progress. I’m going to keep racing frequently as well as swimming and see where it takes me.
Finally, have you subscribed to the LOLZletter? It’s a free newsletter that comes out each Monday. In the newsletter, I share running industry trends and things relevant to the sport. There are often giveaways as well as discount codes.
If you have followed my blog since it’s birth in 2010, you may remember I was a swimmer. Not just a swimmer, but I swam competitively for college. After college, I was done. Swimming is a hard sport and to improve at the college level, and you are usually in the pool anywhere between 2-4 hours a day. After college, I had no interest in staring at a black line. I was burned out. Swimming workouts are tough but swimming is great because it’s nonimpact.
Truthfully, I didn’t think I would ever reach a point that I WANTED to swim again. I’ve swam on and off in the last decade, but nothing competitive and usually not unless I was an injured runner. This is the first time I’ve realized…hey, swimming isn’t “too bad.”
I’m always thankful that I learned to swim at a very early age because it’s not as easy as an adult. I’ve taught swim lessons before and learning when you are older is much more difficult, although not impossible. I’ve taught the mommy and me kids classes, coached swim team, and once showed an 80-year-old woman how to swim.
So if you are a runner, or someone wanting to benefit from swimming…what should you do?
First Get the Right Equipment:
If you want to start pool running or swimming laps you need the right equipment. Like running, swimming isn’t expensive (minus the pool).
You need a swimsuit (make sure it doesn’t move when you swim), swim cap, and goggles. There are a couple of pieces that are a bonus such as a kickboard or pull buoy.
The goggles I used almost exclusively through college are the Speedo Vanquisher. They aren’t designed for swimming in open water, but they are great the pool and minimally fog up. I used them for a decade and never had any issues.
Many people asked about swim caps. Why use a swim cap?
Swim cap allows you to stay more streamlined as well as protects your hair. It might seem silly to wear, but it’s the swimmers’ norm to make swimming laps or even pool running a lot easier and keep your hair in better condition.
There are all different kinds. Latex is the cheapest and stays put on your head. If you use gel or hair product, this is usually the cap I recommend. Silicone is a lot more gentle on the hair and doesn’t rip hair out, but it will slide off and won’t stay put if you use hair product.
Pool running is just how it sounds; you run but in the pool. There is more to it, though. Pool running has a number of names from aqua jogging to deep water running. A simple google search yields dozens of pool running workouts. Unlike running on land, you don’t necessarily need a training plan.
Since your feet don’t touch the bottom of the pool, there is no impact. This means it’s a good option if you are injured with a stress fracture of stress injury. It’s easier to pick up if you haven’t spent much time in the pool.
The funny thing about pool running is that it doesn’t resemble actual running. Your running form doesn’t matter as much as long as you are running. The point of it is to get your heart rate up. Just always keep moving!
Pool running (versus swimming laps) is what is going to be most beneficial to runners. We don’t horizontal run (LOL if you get it), so while swimming laps might be more enjoyable, pool running is what will help actual running and build fitness and maintain fitness for running.
Use a pool belt when pool running. It will help with proper form. Without a pool belt, your focus changes from running form and jogging to treading and staying above the surface.
I like this video with Jeff Galloway. He teaches exactly how to pool run. You want to get a bigger range of motion than you would in land running and just keep moving.
Here are a few workouts. Keep in mind, you will only benefit by putting the effort in, and no one can do that for you. You can half-ass pool running and float there, but you won’t get a workout in. You can text while on the elliptical, that is different than putting the effort in and getting your heart rate up.
30 Minute Workout:
5 minutes easy jog
10X 2 minutes alternating hard, easy. Focusing on getting your heart rate up.
5 minutes easy jog
Workout 2: 30ish minutes
5 minutes Easy
Cut the pool in half so you are jogging back and forth on the deep end side (or where you can’t touch the bottom)
10X one side. Sprint as hard as you can to one side, stop at the wall and jog back. Repeat 10X. I did this one time during college when I was injured (and slowly increased reps and it kept me in shape. Ultimately, I ran my fastest cross county time after being injured for 2 months).
As a “retired swimmer,” I am just more prone to want to swim laps. As I add swimming back into my routine, that’s all I’ve been doing right now.
When I swam competitively and ran competitively, I didn’t find (and still don’t) swimming shape to translate into running shape. You can swim as much as you want, but chances are it won’t translate into running your fastest times. Your overall fitness will be great, but the specific movements and cardio don’t translate. You can also run as much as you want, but might not find yourself a great swimmer. This article about, Olympian Micheal Phelps, shows that the specific fitness might not always translate.
How do you Start Swimming Laps?
My biggest advice to anyone just getting started is to start small. You don’t have to swim 1000 meters to get a good workout. Swimming laps is going to work different muscle groups as well as build lung capacity. You might find when you return to running, breathing is much easier.
Like running, make it a goal to swim X meters, stop, regroup, and keep going. Most pools are usually 25 meters or 25 yards. Make it your goal to swim to the end, take a break, swim back, and repeat. Once you are more confident, you can say: swim to the other side, rest 30 seconds, repeat, and keep going.
Any swimmer will tell you, elite-level swimmers don’t just get in the pool for 2 hours and get out. It’s not like a long run. They do dozens of drills, sets, and intervals. In fact, realistically that’s what swim practices are. It’s almost like doing speed work for the entire practice.
In the 15 years of swimming, I had one practice where our coach told us just to get in and swim. Honestly, it was awful!
Swimming for Runners: a few workouts you can do:
Need: Pull Buoy
Warmup: Swim 200 yards.
Set: 5X200 yard pulls with 2 minutes in between. Start off easy, and build to a faster pace.
Cooldown: 200 yards easy cooldown.
Total: 1400 yards
Warmup: 200 yards
Set: 4X25 yard kick. Using the kickboard, kick as hard as you can. Rest for 1 minute between.
50 Yards easy. Use this to flush out your legs, take your time.
4X25 yard kick: Kick as hard as you can. Rest for one minute in between.
50 Yards easy
4X25 yard kick. Alternate hard, easy, hard, easy. Take a minimal break as necessary, ideally working towards no break.
50 yards easy
50-yard kick as hard as you can. Take minimal breaks as needed, ideally working towards no break.
50 yards easy
2X25 yard kick. As hard as you have left. Take 1-minute break between but this should be all out, and your legs should burn.
Cooldown: 200 yards
Warmup: 200 yards
4×50 Freestyle. Your 5k effort. It should feel hard, but not like you are gassed out. Rest 2 minutes between each.
1X100 easy, “recovery.”
2×100 Freestyle. Moderate effort. This should feel like a half marathon, tough but controlled. Rest for 2 minutes between.
1×100 Easy, “recovery.”
4×25 Fast. Your hardest effort. This should feel like a mile sprint. Rest 1 minute between
1×100 Easy, recovery.
4×25 Fast. Your hardest effort. Rest 1 minute between.
Cooldown: 200 yards
Just keep in mind, you have to do workouts that you enjoy. If swimming doesn’t click for you, that’s okay. I appreciate how enjoyable it’s been for me and a nice break from the outside world. You get lost in your own thoughts when you are submerged in the water for an hour.
Hopefully, you aren’t pool running because you are injured, but if you are, you can keep fitness up and build lung compacity by swimming and pool running.
Finally, have you subscribed to the LOLZletter? It’s a free newsletter that comes out each Monday. This week I talked about rest days and cross-training. In the newsletter, I share running industry trends and things relevant to the sport. There are often giveaways as well as discount codes.
Questions for you:
Have a question about swimming or pool running, ask!
Another week of training down. As most people know I opted to take 2 weeks off. The first week was nearly complete rest with a couple of walks. This week had a few more walks, a hike, and even a run on Sunday.
It was strange not running the Philadephia half this year. While I’ve never raced well there, it’s always fun to be part of one of the biggest race weekends of the year. Not sorry but I think Broad Street is 10X better.
My running, legs and everything feels fine, I’m healthy. While I don’t feel as if I ran a marathon two weeks ago, I don’t feel injured either.
On Thursday, I opted for a short walk. Just half of a mile in, it started snowing and sleeting, so I turned around. I had planned on walking further, but I wasn’t in the mood.
On Friday, my husband and I went up to Sandy Hook and walked around the Gateway Recreation Area. It was a lot of fun exploring and it’s a beautiful area with plenty of history behind it. It was nice to get out of town and just see another part of the Garden State.
Sunday brought my first run back. I didn’t feel bad, and it was nice to get movement. I felt as though I could have run much sooner, but it was important to me to take time off. Every person from professional to recreational needs time off each year. As someone who is very injury prone, I know for myself, I need it more than many people. I wrote more about my rest and recovery here.
What is next?
Truthfully I don’t know. I’m not like “OMG I need to run all of the marathons”. I do plan to run another marathon at some point but I will when the time is right. I would like to get more speed in and work my 5k back down to the 18s.
It’s been nearly 3 years since I ran my 5k PR and I would like to eventually break 18 minutes. I’ll start racing and trying to find my speed legs again and see where it goes.
Last week felt better than the previous in terms of running. I was able to add miles in the week and then had a quality race. Not my fastest time but great for where I am right now. I don’t think this will be an amazing comeback story, but more a story of plugging along through the summer months.
Easy 50 minutes
Easy 50 minutes
Easy 50 minutes
Bungalow Beach 5 Miler (32:12)
Easy 60 minutes
My easy runs of the week were just that, easy. Originally I thought I might get a workout in Wednesday but my body was tired and that would be overdoing workouts and speed.
Bungalow Beach 5 Miler: (32:12)
It was the inaugural year for the race. Since I like the Atlantic City races so much, I thought it would be fun to do. The last 400 meters is on the soft sand which doesn’t make for a fast finish. The day itself was 100% humidity. So with the weather and course, I knew it wouldn’t be the easiest day.
I’m glad I ran and got to see a lot of friends. My body didn’t feel great but not bad either. I definitely didn’t feel fresh. I was barely able to hang onto first, as the second place woman was fast approaching. In all, I’m happy with how I did and I post a longer recap this week.
I’m happy with the week and I feel like I’m slowly progressing towards fitness. I’m nowhere near there but I do feel like I’m progressing. I was talking to a good friend, and while I only took a week off from running, I decreased my miles and was mentally disengaged for almost 2 months now. I do believe there is something to be said about that. I don’t think this will be a “glamorous” comeback and I think it will involve a lot more grind but that’s ok.
May was a good month. Not so much a gritty training month, but it was a good month in general. I mentioned this in my training log last week, while I didn’t “train hard” through May, I did run. I didn’t stop training, and it wasn’t as if I wasn’t logging miles.
Running just wasn’t a priority. I’m still in great fitness, but I’m definitely not in peak fitness. A few months ago, running an 18:30 5k wasn’t too big of a deal, but right now I think I’m probably around 19 minutes. That’s what happens when you stop doing the little things and honestly, mentally and physically your body needs it.
Through the summer, I plan to actively train. In June I definitely would like to sign up for more races. That will probably help fine-tune speed work again. Do I think I’ll PR…No, but I will get closer? Yes. Eventually, I would like to run under 18 minutes in a 5k, a goal I’ve been chasing over the past few years.
I think my demotivation came from having a rough 10k after the Broad Street. The day itself was hot, windy, and down the sore. The race was well put together, but I just felt like garbage. The rest of the month I chose a lot of other things like hiking versus running. Then life got busy outside of the running and blogging world, so I felt like I was on the go and living out of my car with running around the state of NJ. Honestly, it was a great month but running just wasn’t a priority. As a running blogger with no kids, it’s weird saying: I just didn’t GAF about training hard. That’s what happened.