Think Swimming Is Challenging? This Swimmer Can’t Run!

This post was published on August 27 2010 while on my journey to South African Olympic Trials and the 2012 Olympic team.

Here’s an opinion:

Running is for Athletes that can’t… can’t catch, can’t throw, can’t hit a ball, can’t swim, can’t ride a bike…

I mean, is there really any skill involved in running? It’s just like walking, only faster… Right?


Friends, let me share something with you.

● I am an athlete
● I spend many hours a day working out in the pool and in the gym
● I’m in good shape.
● I know how to work hard and push through pain.
● I cried on Wednesday night 3km into a 5km run.

This swimmer can’t run!

It’s true, tears started 3km into what felt like an all out sprint. I could feel the tears rolling down my cheeks and the lasagna I had for lunch rapidly rising.

I tried to tell myself I was just sweat from my eyeballs. But who am I kidding?

The only thing that stopped me giving up was Steve. He’s my housemate and 2 x Iron Man finisher. If he hadn’t been yelling at me I would have laid down on the road and sacrificed my body to a passing car.

Steve is one of the triathletes that I coach. I get to torture and hurl verbal abuse at him a couple times a week in the pool. He is a great guy and a committed athlete who. I when ask Steve to “pick it up” he does exactly that.

Any one that has watched me coach or has been coached by me knows that I ask swimmers to “pick it up” a lot! I probably say the word “faster” more than any other word on deck. Steve always obliges to my request, often finishing workouts passed out on deck.

For this reason, and this reason only when Steve had his moment of revenge, telling me to stay strong and pick it up, I did.

I cussed him out for pushing me. Had I had a little more energy I would have thrown a traffic cone his head. But I am grateful to him for pushing me through it.

swimmer can't run

This August, Tri-Fusion Triathlon club has put on a 5km race called the “Hot Summer Nights Series“. I ran all three Wednesday night races and it has been an incredible and eye opening experience for me.

At the end of the swimming season in July, I decided to help strengthen my legs by running a little bit in August. I started out on my own running every other day. Then went for a couple runs with Steve, and then Steve and Roger Thompson. These runs were fun and challenging, but I now know that you don’t have any idea what running is about until you race it.

Here’s how it went..

Race 1:

I decided I was cool enough to hang with the big boys… for a mile… Then as the big boys disappeared I hung with the fast ladies… for a mile… and as the lead woman left me. At that point my dignity and pride disappeared too. I crumbled to a 10 minute final mile to finish in 22.09. Ouch.

Race 2:

Lesson learned last week. Game plan adjusted.

Cruise the first mile. I start a little further back in the pack and run along side a 10 year old kid and his dad. We cruise mile 1. Work it on mile 2, and then the dad says “we got to pick it up son”.

“I can do that” I thought, I’ll stick with them…. or not… as they disappeared into the distance and finished a minute and a half a head of my 21.24. Success is being 45 seconds faster than the previous week though.

Race 3:

Steve paces me. I run. I curse Steve. I cry. I curse Steve again.

I finish. 20.42.

Running is hard. This swimmer can’t run!

I have a new found respect for the sport. You runners are tough.

I will not be fighting any of you for a place on the road. It’s all yours, you can have it. You can keep it.

This fish has no place out of water. I’m going back to the pool.

Are you a swimmer that can’t run? Or have you figured it out? Let me know in the comments below!