I started swimming competitively at age seven, was swimming on a club team year-round by the time I was in middle school, spent my entire high school career assuming I’d swim in college, was so burned out my senior year, I broke up with swimming for five years. I headed back to the pool only after injuries forced me to seek a form of cardio less boring than the trusty ol’ recumbent bike. I signed up for open-water swim events to motivate me, and have had a love-hate relationship with the sport ever since.
Now, I’m headed back to the pool again after being out for roughly a month. I could waste a lot of time telling you why I’ve been out for so long. Instead, here’s a reminder of why I love swimming to begin with:
- Endorphins! If you’re reading this blog, you’re likely addicted to these feel-good chemicals released by the body during exercise. Running’s my favorite fix. Swimming’s my second-favorite. Sure, the stationary recumbent bike is easy, and I can read while I cycle; but I never get quite the same cardio workout as I do from even a nice, easy 3,000 yards in the pool.
- A good stretch. My muscles practically crave a good swim after a hard run or lifting session. It’s a perfect recovery workout, and gets aching muscles moving without straining them further.
- It strengthens muscles running and cycling don’t touch. Swimming really is the total-body workout everyone says it is. If I do butterfly sprints, I can go ahead and skip core work and tricep dips for the day.
- I love open-water events like the Chesapeake Bay Bridge 1-Mile Challenge, which I’ve competed in the past two years.
- It reminds me I’m fierce. I’m better at swimming that I am at running. This means that a) I can usually rely on an ego boost with my workout, and b) it’s a nice way to let loose my competitive side, which rarely comes out while running.
Do you swim for cross-training? What motivates you to head to the pool? Help motivate me to actually head to the pool (I haven’t gone yet!) by posting a comment below.
In other news: I had the interesting (and kind of fun) experience of being on the other side of a newspaper interview this week when USA Today reporter Janice Lloyd called me to chat about running gadgets. I’m quoted in her very interesting story, which ran in yesterday’s paper. Nifty, huh?