El Profesor and I are fortunate to live in a building with a pool.
We lived part-year in Florida for four years and didn’t have a pool; but when we moved to our new apartment on the Upper East, suddenly: BOOM. Pool.
I was excited about it, but it took me more than six months to get around to my first dip.
When we moved in to the new apartment, I was base building for the New York City Marathon.
The marathon was my primary focus for months, and I didn’t want to “try” any new sports that might “derail my training.”
But the truth is, a swim here and there may have helped.
I think that there are a few different types of runners.
Recreational runners. They run but have other fitness pursuits.
Runners who run. They don’t want to do anything else.
Runners who train to run. These are the runners that run as their primary sport, but cross-train with a focus on improving their capacity to run.
The latter are probably (I’d imagine) the most likely to improve their times and extend their distances with the lowest proportionate chance of injury.
I mean, fully-conditioned, race-ready, strong, powerful shape.
So as soon as I was cleared to do something – anything – I had to get after it.
About one week into physical therapy, I was cleared to get into the pool.
So I did.
At first I just walked back and forth in a lap lane.
Then I jogged.
When I noticed I could go fast without pain, I thought this is silly. I should be swimming.
And so I began to swim.
It wasn’t running, but I was moving and it gave me something new to work hard at and new goals to set and achieve.
I’ve taken to it remarkably well — just like when I was in elementary school and junior high and I would go swimming in an indoor pool every weekend, and spend my summers swimming (and later, teaching swim) at camp.
In fact, I may even be a more “natural” swimmer.
The benefits of swimming throughout this recovery process are many, and likely more than I know.
I will say this, though: I have noticed that my endurance is still 100% there.
If I wasn’t afraid of flaring up my injury, I could take off for a 10K or more right now.
Spending hours in the pool each week has helped me maintain that kind of fitness. There is no doubt about it.
I am running short distances right now – just a couple of miles at a time and keeping a close eye on my injury.
Which means that I have to run “by feel.”
And fast feels easy to me now.
Sure, it could be that running shorter distances means I don’t have to worry about keeping enough fuel in my tank for a long haul. Maybe I feel freer to run faster.
But all of those lap-lane jogs with the resistance of the water against my body have certainly helped build strength.
And that strength, without resistance, has produced speed.
I am confident that continuing to swim will help me improve as a runner.
I genuinely like it, too.
But I have to admit, every time I lace up my Frees and race out into the brisk city streets, I’m all: hello lover.
Running is a passion that flows deep.