Swimmer can't run

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 runThis 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!

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8 thoughts on “Think Swimming Is Challenging? This Swimmer Can’t Run!”

  1. Jeah! I ve been doing the same. I bought a bike. You need to hook me up with your boys (and ladies) and trifusion. I want to do a tri (or more) sometime in the next yr. Im stoked to train with you again in just a few wks!

  2. You are hard core. It is extremely impressive how far you came in such a short time. Though you will NEVER agree with me…you are a runner. Congrats on the improvements from week to week.

    I am not going to lie, revenge was SAHWEET!!! 😉

  3. I come from a running background. The funny thing is I feel the same way about swimming as you do about running. Before I tried it I didn’t think it would be that bad. Then when I first started to swim I literally just wanted to die (and still do at many workouts). Nice work at trying your hand at a new sport.

    By the way the world record in the 5k is 12min and 37 seconds.

  4. yeah man, I ran distance in track my junior and senior year, it wad tough stuff. my moment of glory was when i beat this guy, logan storie, in the 1500. he was a nationally ranked D1 freestyle swimmer, but i beat him in the 1500 within the the last 300 meters. it was awesome. but most swimmers cannot do land. it is a special talent that some have. embrace if it you can. 😀 good luck the next two years. i’ll be keeping track of everyone’s progress…

  5. LOVE this post! And I couldn’t agree with you more! I’ll take swimming over running any day of the week!

    However, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t pumped for you to get a taste of your own medicine. I still remember Steve telling me the time he wanted you to finish in. I said, “Keve, you’re gonna kill him!” His response? “Who cares?! He tries to kill us in the pool every time he coaches us!” I couldn’t disagree! The only problem is that you DID push yourself, you DID go faster…that means we have to keep doing it in the pool too, damn it! 😉

    So stoked for you and your continued improvement! And just for the record, you just took up running over the past month and you run way faster than I do. Jerk!

  6. You a runner, man! You are pushing times that people just can’t fake. Very impressive. Love the way you push yourself, that’s inspiring. Fun times too… glad you and Cahlah came out to race!

  7. I am going to do a 10km walk next Sunday – so I’ll use the advice you were given when I’m battling after the 2nd km. Thanks Rory. You are wonderful

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