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Swimming: The key to dealing with a marathon

Swimming: The key to dealing with a marathon

21/04/2017 at 10:55Updated 21/04/2017 at 15:23

On Sunday 23 April, the London marathon will see some 30,000 runners take on the 26-mile challenge, following in the footsteps of Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge, last year's winner with a time of 2 hours 3 minutes and 5 seconds. Meanwhile, preparations are in full swing and those preparations should include time in the water.

What is the 'Make 1K Wet'?

Springtime is the season for marathons and training. It's just days before the London marathon, which takes place on Sunday 23 April, and both amateur runners and the world's elite are in training.

What benefits does swimming have for runners?

Increased overall muscle strength
- When swimming, you have to overcome the resistance of the water, and any effort expended in the pool makes a contribution to every muscle, from tip to toe.

- With swimming, both the upper and lower body develop equally. It strengthens the back and this means an optimised posture for running.

- Swimming strengthens the following upper body muscles: trapezoids, deltoids, pectorals, biceps, triceps, forearms, abdominal and back muscles.

Improved breathing
- The abdominal breathing used by runners has to be millimetre-perfect on the day of the marathon. Swimming strengthens the abdominal muscles, which are, naturally, put to a stern test.

- Swimming can be used to work on your breathing techniques and synchronisation. The variety of strokes (crawl, breaststroke, butterfly, backstroke) offers the sports person a variety of breathing patterns too.

Protecting joints and avoiding injury
- Running will always be a traumatic experience for the body, mainly for the joints (knees and ankles), which have to withstand up to three times the athlete's body weight under load. These joints are also put to the test in everyday life. Preserving them is a daily struggle.

- Because there are no knocks or impact against the ground in swimming, the body is not exposed to injury and can, in fact, stretch out. As what is known as a "supported " activity (the water will support 90% of the weight of the human body), it helps the athlete to avoid traumatic injury (sprains, fractures), post-traumatic injury (arthritis) and wear and tear (arthrosis, compacting and pinching of joints and vertebrae).

Optimised recovery before and after the marathon
- Recommended by sports doctors, swimming even offers the sports person the chance to continue training when injured, or just to take some physical exercise. It optimises recovery prior to and following a marathon. The massaging contact with the water improves blood circulation and eliminates toxins.

Swimming breaks up the routine of preparation
- Just as much as the physical activity, the psychological aspect is an essential factor. Especially when a major goal is looming. Going to the pool breaks the routine, helping the athlete to overcome any mental fatigue caused by using the same old programme in the run-up to a challenge. A water-based activity gives an opportunity to set new goals if problems arise.

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