Swim more - Run less?

Swimming, April 21, 2021

Runners need to take in the big picture. We need to do less miles and promote more smiles. We need to cultivate an environment to reach our potential with joy at the centre. Less is indeed more for a longer journey.

When I sit down with most of my athletes to blend a training schedule into their lives most attempt to run far too much. NZ has a little bit of an "Arthur Lydiard hangover". Now let me first state that Mr. Lydiard was a running game changer. He revolutionised running training, and propelled NZ's running culture to the top of the world with his endurance aerobic methods laying down a robust base allowing athletes to reach their potential. The difficulty is many running athletes I speak to believe in order to run a marathon you have to run at least 6 times a week and run 100-120km weeks. I can remember a few years ago, 3 weeks before the Rotorua marathon talking to another runner doing the marathon. He stated, "I'm so looking forward to getting the marathon done, I'm so over this running training!" I was the opposite - I had loved my training 3-4 runs a week, it had fitted in with life well, and the marathon was the icing on the cake. Why train so much that you begin to dread the journey, and then just want to tick off the destination? 

 More people running a marathon need to place JOY in the centre of their reasons for training, and then be authentic with that. Blocking out the surrounding "more is better" chatter concentrating on your own programme that allows you to stay true with the main roles in your life.  We need to do less running, and more restorative sessions to allow absorption of the training, decreasing the environment for injury. Here is my list of more and less to help keep true balance.


More Yoga, less crossfit...........

Crossfit, F45, and functional training studios have become extremely popular over the past 5-8 years. This type of training is made up of full body strength work, sometimes in a timed circuit format, and sometimes using extra equipment. I am a firm promotor of full body weight work to help runners hold efficient form deep into a training run or race but it has to be individualised, completed within capacity to allow for absorption of the loading, and progress in a controlled manner. This type of intense training needs to be balanced with restorative practices so that the participant does not dig a hole of fatigue and possible injury. I would suggest in general with our hectic, time crunched "how are you - sooo busy" society generally we need more mediation and yoga and less intense exercise dictated by number of reps and the clock. 


More swimming, less running..............

Swimming should be an integral part of a runners training programme especially as we age. I understand that it’s not in the realms of specificity that is a bedrock training principle, but swimming is so restorative to our joints while still giving your cardiovascular system a work out. There are numerous other benefits as well. The squat push off the wall helps develop leg strength, the cross body movement improves general coordination, and upper body gets a great workout to help enhance full body runners strength. Other benefits (that I will discuss in future articles) is swimming in cold water for thermogenesis, and improved breathing awareness in harmony with movement – the aqua yoga principle.


More plants, less food made in a plant.............

Generally, exercise creates inflammation as does eating highly processed foods. Society overall requires more fibre and nutrients in the diet. Hyper processed food (if you can call it food) is usually kcal dense and nutrient poor. The fibre that is imperative for gut health and wellness is stripped out of the food as well as much of the nutrient content. Poor quality and cheap ingredients are then added in.  This may increase storage time and profit margin for the food companies, but it will not help with nourishing your body. Eat as much whole plant-based food as possible. Your ability to recover and perform is linked to the quality of the food you consume. Cells in the body are continually being replaced, sometimes in just days (gut 2-9 days) to months (red blood cells 4 months). You are literally made up of what you put into your mouth.


More meditation, less screen-time..........

What if I told you that one of the best ways to enhance recovery and spark up your para-sympathetic system (rest, digest, heal, restore) was to sit still and focus on your breathing? Most of the most influential athletes, CEO's, and business leaders have a meditation practice. They report it enhances productivity, flow, and improves clarity of thought. The body and mind are linked, in-fact they exist meshed together. What is great for the mind is also great for the body. On the other hand, watching the screen has been shown to decrease creativity, increase procrastination, and when used close to bedtime will negatively affect your ability to sleep in a restorative manner. So please put the device down, and schedule in 5-10min of meditation daily to improve your being and overall performance. 


If you want to enjoy your running training, and cultivate a consistent, joyful schedule promoting growth, I encourage you to run a little less. Be more specific with the planned runs, incorporate some cross training (cycling, body weight exercises, yoga, and swimming), and make sure you ALWAYS blend the training in with your most important roles in life. The training will then become joyous and stress relieving, not drudgery and stress producing.


Photo Credit - Angela Wallace

Brad Dixon is a sports physio, coach, and wellness evangelist based at EVERFIT Physio & Coaching. His passion is promoting enhancing daily habits that nudge people towards potential and save the planet. The power is in our daily habits! Connect with Brad at www.everfit.co.nz, Facebook, Strava, and Instagram (@everfitcoach).