It’s 2017! I’m not really the resolution type, but this year I do have one: Be outside in nature as much as possible, whether I’m running, hiking, biking, or just reading a book. Of course, lately that’s been a challenge because it’s winter and I’m recovering from a little knee injury that I haven’t mentioned on here yet. After my fall marathon finish, I jumped back into running too quickly and irritated my knee, which decided it couldn’t take the impact of running more than a block without nagging pain.
It’s been about a month and a half since I’ve gone for a run. A MONTH AND A FRICKIN’ HALF. So how am I not going insane? Swimming, of course. Here’s the thing: I was on swim team in high school but I was horrible at it. I didn’t learn how to swim properly until I was a freshman, when I decided to take lessons in the evenings after cross country practice just so I could join swim team to stay in shape over the winter. I’m not terribly coordinated, so the whole kicking and pulling at the same time thing was a struggle, and I was already laps behind my friends who competed on neighborhood teams as kids. I quit swim team after my junior year when senioritis hit because mediocrity was disheartening, and I honestly preferred running in the cold to diving into a warm indoor pool.
But now? I love swimming. I’m still no master, but I don’t have to compete anymore. I can usually nab a whole lane to myself and focus on my strokes and my form without worrying about how fast or slow I’m going. That’s helped me to swim more efficiently, to feel more at ease in the water. I’ve been heading to the pool two or three times a week for about a month now—I usually go way too early before work and swim for 45 minutes to an hour with 20 minutes of warm-up plus kickboard/pull-buoy action, then a good 25 minutes or so of nonstop freestyle.
My favorite part of distance running has always been the mental escape. The longer I go, the more blank my mind becomes—it’s like meditation. I’ve found that same peace in the pool as I trace the lane line back and forth, lap by lap, stroke by stroke. And my arms and core feel stronger than ever, so that’s not a bad perk either.
I miss running. A lot. But I know this mandatory cross training will make me a stronger runner in the end. And that makes me pretty excited for running in 2017.
YOUR TURN: Runners, what’s your cross-training activity of choice?