Being a swim instructor at Menlo Swim and Sport (at Burgess Park) implies I like to swim and I do. I also like to run; I especially like to run long distances like half marathons and marathons and I really like ultra marathons.
My favorite running event last year was a night trail marathon in Marin. My favorite swim this year was a MSS challenge: swim 50,000 yards during the month of February.
Truth is, when I'm swimming, I wish I was nice and dry and running. You, of course, know what is coming next: When running I think I'd much rather be in the pool.
Swimming means not feeling sweaty, experiencing a nice body temperature, and hearing underwater bubbles. Swimming also means seeing nothing but the bottom of the pool, having water go up your nose, and, well, being wet!
Running means being outdoors, seeing new and changing scenery, and being able to snack at aid stations as the miles pass by. Of course, running means everything is sore after a long run, feeling wickedly grimy, and, on occasion, feeling just darn tired.
Swimming and running certainly are different experiences for sure and many people would rather do just one or the other. I find swimming and running to be hugely complementary.
Recently, after finishing a half marathon in Death Valley, I immediately went swimming back at the hotel. After the pounding of running on trails through canyons in the dust and heat, being in the pool felt exactly right. Being wet dropped my body temperature and the feeling of being essentially weightless was beyond soothing. When I'm running I deeply appreciate the steady flow of movement and the feeling of everything in balance. When swimming, I know that I can alter each stroke and experience an alternate movement through the water.
I really love to run, especially knowing that at the end of a run I can swim. Swimming after running is a wonderful way to work out the kinks and get body parts flowing in the same direction. Think back to your math days and consider swimming and running as a Venn diagram: at the intersection is the joy of moving on land as well as in water.
The next time you are running think about swimming and the next time you are swimming think about going for a run. Maybe toss in the bike ride and you’ve got a triathlon but that is a future blog.
Steve Marra, a Menlo Swim and Sport swim instructor, likes to compete in endurance events like triathlons, marathons, and ultra marathons. His favorite location for these events is Death Valley. Steve always finishes a race with a smile.