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I just ran 4 miles, why can't I swim 4 yards?

Saturday, June 30, 2012

I ran a 4 mile race last Saturday with a few friends (see my last blog) and we decided to make post-race a beach hang-out day.

There was a sandbar out in the ocean that my friends and I wanted to swim out to. However, it was a bit of a distance out there. Now, I can swim. But I only ever learned how to do the crawl and the backstroke. My friend tried to teach me how to do the breaststroke with my head out of the water (I wear contacts so I wasn't dipping my head into the water). So I tried doing that.

Oh boy was that HARD. Like REALLY, REALLY HARD. Like this is the HARDEST thing I have done ALL DAY kind of hard. Like this is way too hard, forget this sandbar nonsense. I just ran a 4 mile race! How come I can run 4 miles in less than 45 min but swimming 4 yards makes me feel like I want to die? It gave me a new found appreciation for all those Sparkers out there who use swimming as their primary form of exercise. Yes, BOSS61, I am thinking of you.

Well, there goes my dream of doing a sprint triathlon. I thought I was pretty physically fit. What a humbling experience.

Up until then, I had considered myself "fit.' I am at my happy weight. My BMI is safely within the normal range. And whenever a medical professional takes my history now, I can honestly answer "why yes, I exercise 60 min five times a week." Then they nod approvingly. This is much preferable to before when I'd answer "no" and then have to listen to my doctor tell me why it's important not be overweight and why it's important to exercise. As if I didn't know all those reasons already.

Since I got back on the fitness bandwagon in January, I have noticed that exercise has gotten easier and easier. My preferred mode of exercise was always the elliptical machine and although I still use it, it's simply not as difficult for me to do anymore (and yes, I keep upping the resistance). Back in January, a 20 minute, one mile Leslie Sansone Walk Away the Pounds video would have my heart racing and leave me drenched in sweat. But a month later, the video was no longer difficult. So I started doing her Walk/Jog video. But again, a month later, it was not challenging enough anymore. So I took up running in March. When I started running, I barely ran faster than my fastest walking speed. Now I can run a mile in just over 11 min. When I started running at the Duck Pond, it took me almost 20 min with walk/jog intervals to make one loop around. Now? Just 10 min.

I'm getting fitter and fitter every day so why can't I swim? Oh yeah, that's right. I'm fit enough to run. I'm fit enough to kickbox. But I haven't trained for swimming. That's a whole 'nother ball game. Silly me. If I knew that I couldn't just start running 5Ks without training, what made me possibly think that I wouldn't need training in order to swim? There's a lot I need to do before I can become "swimming fit." So the new fitness goal is to be more rounded when it comes to fitness. And to be able to swim more than 4 yards without getting winded.

Just because I'm fitter now than I was in January, it doesn't mean I've come to the end of the road when it comes to exercise. I have to continue to push myself. I'll never be 100% fit. I'll always be "fitter than I was a few months ago."

We can never truly achieve fitness. It’s not a destination but a journey.

(By the way, I can't claim credit for that lat line. I'm paraphrasing GIRLALLIN who is paraphrasing John Bingham. You should check out her last blog "I look like a Dalmation" as she touches on a similar topic there.)
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Great blog! I'm in the opposite boat! I swim 1-2 miles a day, but can run, ummmm, half a mile? In 10 minutes? LOL!

    I signed up for a "Tortoise Triathlon", in which I have 6 weeks to accumulate the miles: 26.2 running, 112 biking, 2.4 swimming... I found myself looking at the numbers going, uh, can I SWIM 26 miles and run 2 instead? But I started working on this whole running thing, and it's a little easier, little faster, each day... Just gotta keep at it!
    2927 days ago
  • no profile photo CD11341635
    :) I just completed my first 5K and I remember when I first started - not even able run a 1/4 of a mile.

    You've come so far, been an inspiration to many. I look forward to hearing about your swimming adventures and being inspired by your progression.
    2927 days ago
    I know how you feel. I've reached a point where if I can't go five miles in a walk I feel cheated. Then I got a bicycle....whoops. What ARE those? Oh yeah, the muscles you HAVEN'T been using when you walk! Ohhh.....those. Okie dokie...
    emoticon emoticon
    2997 days ago
    I love to swim and it helps that we have a pool. I taught my kids to swim when they were little and we still work on different strokes and floating. Both of my kids, age 8 & 10, swim well underwater, dog paddle, breast stroke, backstroke. My son is working on floating ....poor kids backend sinks LOL ! My daughter swims across the 30 ft pool underwater and is working on making it twice without coming up. I also love to get in pool and jog and use arms to push myself through the water. It is fun to challenge each other too. With practice you will enjoy swimming and will enjoy learning all the strokes and will love practicing. emoticon
    and congrats on your run ! A 10 min mile WOW ! I wish but I have started training your way to 5k walk/jog so who knows maybe one day in the very distant future emoticon emoticon
    2999 days ago
    As others said it just takes practice. And from what I have observed in your blogs, you've got this!

    3000 days ago
    Hey, thanks for the shout-out. It made me grin. I nodded my head throughout your entire post (not knowing the last bit was coming), thinking, yep, yep, I can lift like a champ but my cardio has gone to hell in a hand basket. Or would that going to hell riding a pallet jack? When my cardio was good (ish), my push-ups were shameful.

    And it never seems like one can count on it being a "good" day until one gets going. Some days I want to work out and 10 minutes in, I'm defeated. Other days I do the 10 minutes and then I'm fine. Provided it's/I'm not too hot, cold, humid, hormonal, lonely, crowded, distracted, bored, busy, self-absorbed. Oh wait, that last one is always the case.

    Good for you that you challenged yourself to try the sandbar: I have always been a nervous swimmer - I love the Dimitri Martin quote, "Swimming is a confusing sport, because sometimes you do it for fun, and other times you do it to not die. And when I'm swimming, sometimes I'm not sure which one it is. I gotta go by the outfit. Pants - uh oh. Bathing suit - okay."
    3001 days ago
  • no profile photo CD12340642
    Upper body strength, I swim all the time, but, swimming in an ocean is harder than in the pool. Try going to a local college , and get your laps in at the pool. Great workout.
    3001 days ago
  • CHEFMOM1199
    I had to read your post because of the title. I have been walking 6 miles a day and feel exactly the same way about swimming. It is a fantastic form of exercise and I am taking a lesson tomorrow! I haven't swam since I was a kid (when it seemed effortless!) I keep telling my husband that I don't think I can swim one lap - but I remember when I started walking in February I could only walk a half mile around my block. Take baby steps and you will be able to do it - I can't wait to hear if you take it up - talk about being toned everywhere!!! Good luck1
    3001 days ago
    I used to swim like a fish when I was a kid, and it never seemed like exercise. Then, after decades of not swimming, it was very humbling for me to realize I couldn't swim a length of the pool without my heart pounding out of my chest while I gasped for air. I know we can both get swimming fit again if we just work at it. :-)
    3001 days ago
    Don't see it as a negative. See it as a new challenge! Your body needs to learn a new movement pattern and a new skill.
    3002 days ago
    You can do it! Just train for it. Your jogging will give you more endurance with your swimming. One thing helps the other, but does not replace the training.

    3002 days ago

    I think, the more you do it, the easier it will become. emoticon

    3002 days ago
  • KATHRYN1955
    Well, I can swim for 60 minutes at a stretch, but I couldn't run for 5 minutes to save my life!! Because of some neck strain, I do a variety of strokes and exercises...some intervals of dog paddling real fast!! It is also a great exercise for the core muscles. If you really want to do more swimming, my advice would be just to get in the water where you can't touch bottom and just start moving in whatever manner feels comfortable until your muscles get used to the new movement. I plan to get some of those webbed hand thingys to increase my resistance. The great thing about swimming is that you can't get overheated!!!
    Happy exercising!!!

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    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    3002 days ago
  • CANDOK1260
    swmiling is a hard sport. if you really want to do this. get some lesson it take a while but you can do this, congrats on the weigh loss
    3003 days ago
    Good luck with swimming
    3003 days ago
    Just like walking before you run (the very impressive time of 4 miles in 45 min), swimming is practice and building. I'd bet you CAN do a tri; most of the online training programs are 8 weeks. For most runners, swimming is the hardest part of the tri. I started swimming first, so find the run training to be a bear! I started swimming a couple lengths of the pool, nice and easy with my then 5 year old daughter. 3 months later, I could swim a mile doing the crawl.
    3003 days ago
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