Whether you're a competitive triathlete or a weekend runner, cross-training in different sports can give your workout a lift. Runners use swimming as a way to develop lung capacity, strengthen core muscles, refresh workout routines and ultimately, improve their running. "A lot of runners in our area who switched to swimming ended up running better," Ball State University exercise physiologist Dave Costill told "Runner's World" magazine.
Rather than plunging into longer, endurance-style swimming, initially try interval training using regular freestyle. Sprint 25 meters, the equivalent of one length of a standard pool. Rest 30 seconds, then repeat four to six times. Eventually increase your sprinting distance until you can do 50 meters six times, recommends "Runner's World." Finish each set with a few slow, easy laps of freestyle, backstroke or breaststroke.
Swimming longer distances helps build lung capacity. Swim a brisk 100 meters, or four lengths of the pool. Rest two minutes and repeat. When this workout becomes routine, gradually work up to a 200-meter distance with the same two-minute rest in between sets, "Runner's World" advises. For more variety, change to a different stroke each time you start a new set.
Deep-water running provides cardiovascular benefits while strengthening thigh, ankle and calf muscles in a low-impact workout. Standing in chest-high water, run in place or across the pool, using normal running form.The water provides resistance, so you have to work harder to run. Athletes with foot and knee injuries also can use modified deep-water workouts to stay fit while they are recuperating, the "New York Times" reports.