Excluding triathletes, for which it is normal to alternate running and swimming (and cycling), for many runners as well as for many swimmers the question about the possibility of practicing running and swimming together is one of those that intrigue and leave doubts. Speaking of amateurs, and therefore people whose real interest is to keep fit or improve personal performance, can running and swimming really be practiced together, for example by alternating weekly training sessions?
Practice running and swimming at the same time
Yes, the answer is that running and swimming can very well be practiced together, alternating running workouts and pool training, and with mutual benefits for the two different activities as well as for the general well-being of those who practice them.
Swimming and running are very similar from a cardiovascular point of view
From a cardiovascular point of view, running and swimming are two sports that can have numerous points of contact. Although in fact they are practiced in two totally different environments and using mainly different muscles and in different ways, the same dynamics can in fact be replicated by making the heart work with similar heart rates: the long ones, the repeated ones, the Interval Training or the recovery lenses yes they can do both running and swimming, and today, with heart rate monitors, it is also possible to monitor and replicate the same heart rates.
Swimming and running are two complementary sports
If, from the cardiovascular point of view, swimming and running have numerous points of contact, from that of muscular engagement there are instead two absolutely complementary sports: if in fact the legs are hard after a race, or suffer from tendon inflammation, for example at the knees or heels, you can think of training in the pool by swimming “arms only” with the help of floating anklets; similarly after a hard swimming training or when there are inflammations behind you can think of maintaining your fitness by running.
What is important is that we should not immediately expect similar performances: as far as in fact from the cardiovascular point of view we might expect not to have “breath” difficulties, those coming from the running will find it difficult to swim at an intense pace as the swimmers will do struggling to get the legs used to the rhythm of running. For this the best thing is to get organized with a minimum of method, alternating the training sessions of the two sports in a balanced way (for example running-resting-swimming-resting-running-resting-swimming-resting) or at least regular (for example race-rest-swimming-rest-running-resting-running-resting-swimming-resting-running-resting or vice versa).
Swimming is useful to recover after a race
There are many marathon runners, even amateurs, who after some 42 km dedicate some training sessions to swimming: it is a way to actively recover, making the leg muscles work without overloading them, even or especially the joints. Swimming, in a bland and regular way, is in fact an excellent method of active recovery.
Swimming + running = Multisport
That of multisport is an increasingly widespread trend even among amateur sportsmen. The advantages are undoubted and multiple: more harmonious development of the physical, possibility of alternating the sessions without excessively overloading, metabolism always stimulated and active, reduction of stress injuries and in general a constant physical and athletic condition.