View Full Version : Questions from a former runner

July 19th, 2012, 09:58 AM
Hello everyone,

I am a 40 yr old male who has been a distance runner most of my life. I have logged countless miles training for marathons all over. Unfortunately I got old :cane:. About a year ago I had minor knee surgery and decided that my running hobby was no longer something I could sustain if I wanted to have knees left when I get to 60. I took up swimming once the knee healed. I am very thin and have never been much of a swimmer. I apparently don't float which makes swimming hard but I keep plugging away. My goal is to stay in shape and maybe get some of those swimmers broad shoulders :). My question is what kind of program should I be following? I am not very good at any stroke besides freestyle and I currently swim for about 30 min a day/6 days a week and do either weights, yoga or elliptical machine for an additional 30 min a day/6 days a week. Given my age, goals, skill level and time constraints, can someone point me to a good set of workouts?


Rob Copeland
July 19th, 2012, 10:33 AM
If your primary goal is to stay in shape, then 30 minutes of swimming on your own 6 days a week sounds okay.

However, if you would like to improve technique, efficiency, speed and/or endurance then I would suggest you look for a coached Masters Swimming program in your area. Places to swim can be found under the Local Programs tab on the home page.

July 19th, 2012, 11:18 AM
Thanks for info. I was hoping to find some workouts and I am not averse to working out more, I just need a little guidance. Finding a coach is probably not an option since I live in a very rural area. Thanks again.


Rob Copeland
July 19th, 2012, 12:01 PM
In that case, there are lots of great workouts in the Workout section of the forum.
Workouts - U.S. Masters Swimming Discussion Forums

July 19th, 2012, 02:02 PM
Welcome to swimming, moreover, club of sinking swimmers. I am also buoyantly challenged (6'1'', 160 lbs). Even though swimming is much easier on your joints, if you do it wrong it can injure your shoulders. So your starting out right with feedback or a coached program.

July 19th, 2012, 02:15 PM
So your starting out right with feedback or a coached program.

Assuming your coach doesn't just generate workouts without dispensing stroke advice.


July 19th, 2012, 09:31 PM
I know exactly what it's like to have to give up on land sports, though I'm a bit younger than you. I also am one of those people who doesn't naturally float well either. We just have to work a little harder to stay afloat. Once you get a good feel with the water I assure you won't notice anymore.

It sounds like you're off to a good start. It's very easy to learn the fundamentals of backstroke and breaststroke. It's good to switch up your strokes so you don't over exert the same muscles and joints with the same movement over and over and over again. You could definately look into a Masters Team or see if your local pool has any classes. Many pools also can hook you up with a private coach if you're really wanting to learn 1 on 1. There's also a lot of great videos on YouTube that you could use to help teach yourself. If you have any friends who swim, I'm sure they'd be more than happy to teach you too.

Workouts are kind of dependent on your skill level. 30 minutes is a good workout, especially for a beginner. How many yards do you typically swim in this time?

July 20th, 2012, 01:19 AM
Try to get some good stroke coaching to prevent future poor arm use.
Even visit a team to get some hints or find a local H S or college team
& ask for tutors to help. Sorry about the knees, my rt hip has been replace twice & I also had to give up running.

July 21st, 2012, 08:46 PM
I'm a former runner too; marathon, half-marathon, trail runs. Total endurance junky. So if that's you too I'm guessing just 30 minutes a day is going to keep you in shape, but not going to get you that runner's high or the feeling of satisfaction you have after following build-up program for months at a time to get in shape for those long distance runs.

I'm 42 and in a similar boat (though mine is not sinking anymore! :bolt:).

I've been blogging about my conversion from runner to swimmer here:


You'll find some of my workouts there; as a former runner I try to keep it really simple... they're probably not the best, but they get my heart pumping and remind me of the interval track workouts I did as a 400, 800, and 1600 runner in my teens.

And I do have some advice that might help you as a runner. My legs are terrible for kicking (but I get great push-off the walls!), though they are in really good shape... it's just not good for the kind of movements you need in swimming. But I found I could overcome the sinking-legs issue by paying attention to the other parts of my body. When I was in my early 30s I started swimming while I was recovering from my first serious running injury and was really frustrated, so I got Terry Laughlin's book on Total Immersion swimming techniques... that was an excellent start for me. And I suggest it for anyone. Technique is so important in swimming and small changes in technique can have a big impact on your enjoyment as well as your speed.

now a decade a later... taking up swimming "full-time" and leaving running behind me, I'm still working on technique. I've found a bunch of good stuff on "swim smooth." If you google both TI and swim-smooth you will find their websites and youtube videos on technique (active.com also has a good set of videos on technique). Then, try to work on one "issue" per practice for a while until it all starts to come together. And have a swimmer or a coach you workout with take a look at your technique from time to time. A longtime swimmer I see occasionally at the Y, just about a week and a half ago pointed out to me an adjustment I could make that helped right away... sometimes it's a real simple thing you can do or focus on... I feel like I've been on a plateau for a while and he said "hey, why don't you try THIS, it might help out THAT" and voila`... I'm knocking minutes off my open water times.

And have fun with it! I know after years of running that my fastest days on land are behind me; but with swimming I feel like I'm still getting better and my fastest days are way out in front of me yet!