From Land to Sea: Here Are the Best Swim Workouts for Runners

From Land to Sea: Here Are the Best Swim Workouts for Runners

Swimming is the perfect cross-training exercise for runners. As a form of low-impact cardio, swimming can help to improve your cardiorespiratory system (benefiting your endurance) and works your entire body, all while giving your joints a much-needed break from the constant pounding of running.

“Sometimes, the high impact of running can take a toll on your joints, which is where swimming can come into play quite nicely,” says Alex Moothart, assistant swim coach with The Swim Mechanic. In fact, swimming can help relieve existing joint pain and stiffness. In one study in adults with osteoarthritis (characterized as a “wear and tear” joint condition), swimming 45 minutes a day three days per week reduced symptoms after three months.

So, if you want to build fitness and get a full body workout — minus the impact — hit the pool on your cross-training days.

(After you’ve mastered the workouts below, check out even more of our swim workouts here.)

Types of Swim Workouts for Runners

A good way to challenge yourself in the pool — and get the most benefits from swimming— is to focus on different distances and speeds. Doing so will work your aerobic and anaerobic systems in different ways.

Below, Moothart lays out three different workouts that will have you swimming between 100 and 25 meters at a time, sprinting and moving at a slower pace, and resting for varying times.

Without further adieu, here are the some of best swim workouts for runners. Choose your stroke of choice (freestyle stroke, backstroke, and breaststroke are a few good options), and be sure to start every workout with a warm-up. A good option is 200 to 400 meters of easy swimming, about 4 X 100 meters kicking, and about 4 X100 meters pulling.

 

1. 100-Meter Swim Workout

  • 4 x 100-meter intervals at an easy pace
  • 3 x 100m intervals at a moderate pace
  • 2 x 100m intervals at an fast pace
  • 1 x 100m intervals at maximum pace

To determine your pace for each interval, first figure out how long it would take you do 100m at your fastest pace. Then, add 15 seconds to that time and start your set there. For example, if you can do 100m in 1 minute, do the 4 x 100m in 1:15.

Cut 5 seconds off when you go into your 3 x 100m, aiming to complete the lap in 1:10. Cut another 5 seconds off for your 2 x 100m, and again for your 1 x 100.

Rest 15-30 seconds between intervals, and 30 seconds to a minute between rounds.

Finally, finish off with:

  • 10 x 100m at your 3 x 100m pace (a moderate pace)

 

2. 50-Meter Swim Workout

  • 8 x 50m intervals at an easy to moderate pace.

Rest about 15 seconds between intervals.

  • Once you’ve finished the 8 x 50m intervals, rest 30 seconds before swimming 100m at a fast pace.

Do 4 rounds, resting 1 minute in between intervals. Do the 100m at an easy pace during round 1, a moderate pace during round 2, a fast pace during round 3, and your maximum speed during round 4.

 

3. Speed Swim Workout

  • 4 x 25m
    • 1st interval: Build-up to a fast finish
    • 2nd interval: Build-down from a fast start
    • 3rd interval: Easy pace
    • 4th interval: All-out sprint

Rest up to 15 seconds between intervals.

Do 4 rounds, resting 15-30 seconds in between.

  • 4 x 50m
    • 1st interval: Build-up to a fast finish
    • 2nd interval: Build-down from a fast start
    • 3rd interval: Easy pace
    • 4th interval: All-out sprint

Rest up to 15 seconds between intervals.

Do 2 rounds, resting 15-30 seconds in between.

  • 4 x 100
    • 1st interval: Build-up to a fast finish
    • 2nd interval: Build-down from a fast start
    • 3rd interval: Easy pace
    • 4th interval: All-out sprint

Rest 15 to 30 seconds between intervals.

Do 1 round.

Lauren Bedosky

About

Lauren Bedosky is an experienced health and fitness writer who specializes in running, strength training, sports nutrition, and injury prevention. She writes for a variety of companies and publications, including Men’s Health, MyFitnessPal, Everyday Health, and BlueCross BlueShield. She lives in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, with her husband and their three dogs. You can find here on Twitter here.