Swimming is Magic

I need to come out and say up front that I know I overreact, and I know my momentary hysterics of thinking I had a stress fracture was probably more exaggerated phantom pain than anything else.

BUT, there was pain there…and that’s part of why I need to offer up credit to the cross training gods and say…

Swimming is magic.

Before I was even hindered with the really bad shin splint on Sunday, I had planned on a long, leisurely swim for Monday. You see, swimming is an old favorite of mine—and the two of us have always gotten along well. Unfortunately, I’ve been neglecting the pool recently in favor of running and spinning, and my only excuse I can claim is laziness. It’s so lame really…but my only hesitation toward a pool workout stems from my aversion to getting in a suit and getting wet. It seems like so much more work than putting on regular workout clothes, and thus my poor goggles, cap, and swimsuit have been left alone in my pool bag from nearly a month.

I was very intentional about swimming on Monday for a few reasons, but mainly because I know how beneficial swimming is to my running, and subsequently my training. I think it was Lance Armstrong who said, “If you want to get stronger cardio-wise, go swim a mile in a pool.”

And you know, Lance is a little more credible than me.


It’s very true though. Swimming is positively incredible in terms of what it can do for your fitness. The practice of rhythmic breathing can make a substantial impact on your cardio shape in all other activities, and although swimming laps might seem easier than running—I would beg to differ. If you haven’t swam in a while, I challenge you to go and try swimming a mile; I think you’ll realize it’s a lot better of a workout than it’s given credit for. This is in large part due to the fact that swimming works every muscle in your body. No other activity can accomplish the all-around muscle activity that swimming does, and not only that—it’s all non impact. There’s a reason why people who have been injured in just about every sport are instructed to swim; it’s very easy on your body while still being a very quality workout.

Now, as I’ve said before—there was a time in my life when I had a big huge “running is the only decent workout” stick up my rear. And I admit, today I definitely would prefer running to anything else, however I will also vouch very favorably for cross training, particularly swimming.

Let’s back up to my former running life, when I was reckless and obsessive and demolished my hip.

(I know we’ve talked about this a lot recently, sorry about that.)

Because I decided to quite literally run myself into the ground, I had to accept a fate of cross training or no activity at all. Initially, right after I got hurt, even spinning and the elliptical were a bit too much for my bad hip. Enter, swimming.

I was never “a swimmer,” but I was a lifeguard for many years which means you need to at least be able to bust out a few laps. That said, as soon as I tried swimming with my bum hip, I realized something very quickly; not only could I do it, but it actually made my hip feelbetter.You see, I was so gimpy that I could barely walk—and I began to realize that the days I would swim were much easier to get through (in terms of walking around) than those when I didn’t. Also, when I was swimming it was the only time during the day where I couldn’t feel my injury.

Verdict from this experience?


Swimming helped me maintain my cardio shape well enough to jump back into running fairly seamlessly once I was recovered, and I credit swimming for mentally keeping me stable throughout my gimp-hood. There’s a very therapeutic element to swimming laps, and while the monotony can get a bit boring…I’ve found that I can do some of my best thinking while swimming: it’s forced silence that we rarely get to experience.

Oh I frankly can’t say enough, obviously.

I never can though, right?

Anyways, I just want to say that after my lovely 2 mile swim yesterday, I have reconfirmed my belief that swimming has real magical powers.

Remember the post where I decided that in my exercise love life, spinning was my mistress, yoga was the best friend, and running was my one true love? Right, well…if I could fit swimming into the mix, swimming would be the Gandalf. Or the Fairy Godmother, if you will. Yes, Fairy Godmother…I like that. While the other three all argue with each other, my Swimming Fairy Godmother is there to offer relief from the storm and quiet recovery.

And relief she offered.

I definitely was still feeling the shin splint all day yesterday, and even getting into the pool I was a little wary of any aggravation. While breast stroke proved to be a little tricky what with all the foot flexing, I found free style (my go-to stoke) to feel quite good and actually helpful. I ended the swim feeling great, and around 8 pm last night I realized…wait a minute, I can’t even feel the shin splint. Literally the entire day flexing my foot was painful, and just like that, all remnants of pain were zapped out of my leg.

Swimming! Magical Powers! I love my Fairy Godmother!

God I’m such a Disney kid. Sorry.

But for real…the proof gets better. This morning, still pain free, I decided to go along with my Tuesday morning run plan. I figured I would start, and if I felt any aggravations I would turn around and quit. And then all of a sudden…it was the end of my run, and I felt nothing. Nothing! And while it may have just been a seized shin splint that relaxed all at once, I’m giving the credit medal to my beautiful swimming friend.

Oh, and some credit should probably also be given to the fact that yesterday I worked FROM MY BED all day. I was horizontal for the vast majority of my work day (don’t judge…I was freezing and needed to be under my covers), and although I sort of felt like a slug when BF came home and I was literally in the same place he left me…it was worth it.

No more pain! And while I really super hope that this post hasn’t horribly jinxed me and my healthy body, I think it’s safe to end this with a resounding praise for swimming and its magical powers. And lying in bed all day.

Question: What activity do you think has magical powers? Anything goes! Frankly, I think that making chocolate cookies has a fairy-like effect as well.


5 thoughts on “Swimming is Magic

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