All about swimrunning
Swimrunning is a mind set!
This Blog is for those who want to know more about swimrunning as a sport where the mental and intuitive part is as important as the physical and rational part. I would like to share my views, experiences and feelings with you but always be aware that I don’t claim to know the truth so always use it as a guideline. In fact the main objective with this blog is to NOT to give you facts, or tell you what to do. It’s the other way around. By sharing with you my personal approach to swimrunning I want to make you aware of your own abilities and resources by engaging the mental part with the physical..
“Intuitive swimrunning is a skill that can be mastered”
Swimrunning is done in close contact with mother nature generating many feelings and emotions along the way all of which are unique to every individual. The trick is to recognise and interpret these signals so that you can do something constructive with them. The body has developed a unique way to do this by:
-rational thinking and conscious decision making;
-putting trust in your gut feeling and allowing your body to react without logic or reason.
During training sessions where conditions are often more controlled and constant (e.g. pool or road) you are in a perfect situation to self reflect, correct and optimise your swim stroke or running form (just to give an example). This mostly rational process uses experience to build-up trust in your own abilities. Practise makes perfect in that continuous self reflection during training sessions improves muscle memory to the extent that it becomes second nature and an intuitive process. This in turn allows you to free your mind and be more focussed and in the moment during race day which consumes a lot less energy. In fact it´s mostly during race conditions that your body at some point switches over to the intuitive side (or gutfeeling) because conditions dictate this.
A good example is: transitions. Think about it: “you are running towards the next swim section but you don’t know exactly when the next transition is, then all of a sudden a lake appears out of nowhere. What do you do? Experienced and intuitive swimrunners rely on their gut feeling to get ready for water entry. It’s an automatic reaction and without thinking they put all the equipment in the right place and start swimming without even looking back”. Inexperienced swimrunners on the other hand need to stop and think what the sequence is for putting all the gear in the right place”. This is just one example but the same rationale applies to trail running and open water swimming.
Think about the advantage of combining experience with trust in your own capabilities to overcome unpredictable and extreme conditions. The less your mind is cluttered with all kinds of thoughts the more you can focus on being in the moment and quickly decide what’s important at a specific point in time like for instance taking a gel or a sip from the water in the lake. It’s those simple things and details that people often tend to forget in a race because their brain is working overtime analysing al sorts of other things which are not relevant or should be intuitive but are not!
The best time to develop the basis for intuitive swimrunning is during training sessions in the winter (i.e. 4 months period). Use your rational side to improve your running / swimming technique to the extent that you can use it intuitively during race season. It’s important to train in controlled conditions like a pool and easy trails to improve your
form, technique by self reflection. Once you have mastered it make it second nature by practising it over and over again in preferably uncontrolled conditions such as the sea and technical trails. Of course it makes sense to train in places that are similar to the place where you will be racing. The best time to do this is during the 2-3 month build-up phase for a particular race.
Swimrunners with improved intuitive skills excel in the following scenarios:
* Fast response situations – needed at transitions
* Unexpected change – needed for technical trail running
* High pressure situations without a clear choice – needed when equipment brakes down
* Conflicting options – needed when your partner has a different view
* No prior experience available – needed when you do the course for the first time
* To improvise in tough situations – needed to protect yourself, stay injury free
When experience or reason is not applicable intuitive swimrunners are willing to take risks and go with their gut feeling. Just like any other muscle, the more you use it the stronger it becomes. Use it as a guidance system. Act intuitively when possible it is another tool that you can use as part of your mental skill set. The more you are able to use your developed gutfeeling during race day the more energy you will save increasing your overall chances to get from A to B faster then anybody else.
It’s these kinds of things that make swimrunning such an interesting sport because it also tells you something about who you are as a person. Of course the same can be said about your partner. Your combined physical and mental strength is what defines you as a team and not purely the fact that one is a better swimmer or runner. It took me some time to appreciate this but now that I know….I actively promote this way of thinking in our training sessions and races. Jasmina on the other hand never wears a watch to begin with so she fully relies on her gut feeling and overall experience but at the same time is very rational about it.
Swimrunning is still a young sport which means that there is still so much to learn and experience for everybody. I hope by telling you how I experience the sport you will do the same and we all find new ways to improve and share these emotions along the way.
Team name: Say No! to Doping
Partner: Jasmina Glad-Schreven
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