Swimming Workout for Runners

Updated on September 4, 2019

Are you a runner looking for an alternative to stay in shape? Maybe you're injured or your joints are hurting? Swimming can be a great way for runners to stay in shape as well as rehabilitate their legs. If you're a runner looking for a good swimming workout, then you've come to the right place.

What this workout will try to incorporate is not so much swimming laps like a swimmer would, but rather utilizing legs and with swimming appropriate to a runner's skill level. You will need some items in order to complete this workout.

Items needed:

  • Kickboard
  • Goggles
  • Suit (duh)
  • A good attitude

It can be difficult for runners to try swimming workouts because let's face it, runners are runners for a reason...same with most swimmers. This can be beneficial for a swimming workout for runners. Since runners aren't used to swimming, it will be an opportunity to cross-train your muscles and stimulate a new form of cardio which will give you a much better workout in much less time. Simply because your body isn't used to the activity.

Ok! Here's the Swimming Workout for Runners


  • 100 yard kick with kickboard
  • 100 yard swim (freestyle preferably)

Set 1:

  • In deep water 30 seconds vertical kick with hands out of water - 40 seconds rest (repeat 4 times)
  • In deep water 10 seconds much faster vertical kick with hands above water - 30 seconds rest (repeat 4 times)

Set 2:

  • 100 yard swim (freestyle) breath every 5 strokes - you'll be breathing on both sides
  • 4 x 50 yard swim - first 25 fast - second 25 easy

Set 3:

  • With kickboard 200 yards kick - fast kick between flags and wall of pool
  • 4 x 25 underwater kick no breath - go as far as you can go

Set 4:

  • Swim 200 yards - feel free to choose whatever stroke you want
  • 2 x 25 swim - as fast as you can go!


  • 50 yards double arm backstroke
  • 50 yards easy kicking with kickboard

Now obviously there are many swimming workouts for runners out there so don't feel restricted to this one. The main thing to keep in mind is that you should probably be focusing on your legs but using your arms for regular swimming will give your legs appropriate rest. The workout above has some faster kicking and swimming involved; however, if you are injured or perhaps strictly an endurance athlete you might want to lengthen out the workout and do longer sets than fast ones.

The benefits of swimming for runners can be enormous, especially if you haven't swam in a while. Swimming will only help runners perform better during races...of course you have to still run plenty if you want to be a good runner (duh). But some of the benefits include increased lung capacity, quicker recovery, and reduce chance of injuries.

Increased Lung Capacity

Increasing your lung capacity as an athlete can be highly beneficial for overall performance. The increased capacity will mean an increased efficiency at delivering oxygen to your body. As you know, oxygen helps carry out nearly every function in the body...so if you are able to improve oxygen usage, then you'll be improving your ability to function at a higher level than other athletes.

Swimming is great for increasing lung capacity just like many other cardiovascular activities, but one this that swimming forces an athlete to do is to hold his breath. This breath control forces a person's lungs to expand and over time will enable them to increase in size.

Quicker Recovery

Because swimming is a low-impact exercise, it is great for speeding up recovery in athletes that exercise intensely often. If you find your body and muscles being sore often then you should try swimming. Swimming has the unique ability to stretch out your muscles better than most exercises.

An increased heart rate will allow blood to flow faster through your body. In turn this increased blood flow will cause waste in your muscles from workout out to be dispersed to the rest of your body and be cleaned out. During swim meets my coach always tells us to cool down because by doing so we are able to outperform those who do not cool down. The cool down maintains an increased blood flow for an extended period of time after the race. Swimming is better than other exercises for cleaning out muscle waste because your body is horizontally positioned.

How much do you swim?

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


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