What I’ve Learned Training for a Marathon as a Former Division I Swimmer
Swimming has been a significant part of my life for as long as I can remember. As a former Division I swimmer, I spent countless hours in the pool, working tirelessly to shave fractions of a second off my best time. But when I decided to take on a new challenge, training for a marathon, I quickly realized that the world of long-distance running was a completely different ballgame. Below are some of the valuable lessons I've learned during my transition from the water to the track.
Patience Is Key
In swimming, my focus was on split-second improvements and my goals revolved around hundredths of a second. Marathon training has taught me the importance of patience. Progress in running takes time, and it's essential to set realistic goals and understand that improvement may come in more gradual increments. Building endurance and speed is a marathon in itself, not a sprint.
As a former swimmer, I had to adapt to the new demands being placed on my body. Cross-training became a crucial part of my routine to prevent overuse injuries and maintain overall fitness. Cycling, strength training and yoga have all played a role in my marathon training journey. It's important to remember that a well-rounded fitness approach is the key to success in the world of long-distance running.
Fueling the Body Properly
Nutrition in marathon training is not just about carbo-loading the night before a race, it's an ongoing process. Learning to balance my diet for sustained energy and optimal recovery was a new experience. I've discovered the significance of proper pre-race fueling, in-race nutrition and post-race recovery meals to keep my body functioning at its best.
Injury Prevention and Self-Care
Swimmers are no strangers to shoulder and back injuries, but running presented a new set of potential issues. I've had to learn about running-related injuries and how to prevent them. Stretching, foam rolling and maintaining a smart training schedule have become a significant part of my routine to keep my body in top form.
The Running Community Is Supportive
Just as there's a sense of camaraderie among swimmers, I've discovered a welcoming and supportive community among runners. Whether it's at a local running group, during a race, or through online forums, I've encountered fellow runners who are eager to share their experiences, offer advice, and provide encouragement. It's a reminder that no matter the sport, we're all united by the pursuit of personal challenges and self-improvement.
Transitioning from the pool to the pavement has been an incredible journey of self-discovery. I've learned to embrace patience, develop mental fortitude, embrace cross-training, prioritize proper nutrition and take proactive measures to prevent injuries. Most importantly, I've discovered that the running community is just as supportive and welcoming as the swimming community. As I approach my marathon day, I carry these lessons with me, not just as a former swimmer but as someone who is constantly evolving and exploring new horizons in pursuit of personal growth and new challenges.