This One is For My Mermaids and Mermen!

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Quick Note About Injuries

I've been injured quite a few times during my running career. I'm pretty open about my injuries and don't mind sharing with my followers what is going on with me even though some might say that puts me in a rather vulnerable state. I disagree. I actually believe that being open about our injuries and publicly acknowledging that we are not infallible or unbreakable actually makes us stronger.

Being injured can be a very lonely and dark time because we are often separated from our teammates, missing workouts, and feeling low self-esteem. One thing that has really helped me is recognizing that (of course) I'm not the only one out there at that very point in time who is suffering from an injury. If we take a minute to look around, we are actually not alone in our struggle at all. And sometimes all it takes is for a friend to reach out a hand... and drag you to the pool! I asked my teammate, Gwen Jorgensen (Olympic champ in the triathlon), to write some beginner swim workouts for me. They are sure to kick your butt into shape!

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Introducing: Gwen Jorgensen

I started swimming about 3 years ago, but let's be real: I'm not the expert here. The good news is I found someone who actually IS an expert! One of my#Bowermanbabes is also an Olympic Champion in the triathlon... nbd. Check out Gwen's own website here.

Gwen Jorgensen won GOLD in Rio in 2016 then got busy starting her family. She had her son, Stanly, in August of 2017 and started training for the marathon! I asked Gwen to share some beginner swim workouts for runners and here's what she came up with...

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The Workouts

The great thing about these workouts is that they are largely based on effort instead of specific times, so you get to be your own judge on how hard to push yourself. Let's start with the basics: most pools are either 25yd or 25m- both will work just fine! So when Gwen says "100" that means down and back twice. Just wanna make sure we're on the same page.
Okay here we go! 

Level 1

  • 400 build- start out easy, let your body warm up into it
  • 8x100 holding the same stroke count and time for all 8 reps. Take as much time as you need to keep the pace and stroke count the same. 
  • 8x50 holding faster score than 100s (score = time plus Stroke count)
  • 200 ascend- let your body cooldown

Total: 1800


Level 2

  • 200 warmup
  • 100 build (gets faster as you go)
  • 50 fast
  • 300 where each 50 is A-B-B-C-C-D where A is moderate pace and D is fast (so the pace builds throughout, no stopping)
  • 6x50 as 25 sprint, 25 threshold on 10 sec rest
  • 200 where each 50 is B-C-C-D
  • 4x50 as 25 sprint, 25 threshold on 10 sec rest
  • 100 where each 50 is C-D
  • 2x50 as 25 sprint, 25 threshold on 10 sec rest
  • 150 easy cool down

Total: 1700

  • 400 warmup
  • 4x100 descend to fast (get faster as you go)
  • 4x50 descend to even faster
  • 2x[50 fast on 5 sec rest, 150 threshold on 10 sec rest, 2x50 faster than threshold on 10 sec rest, 2x100 threshold on 10 sec rest, 50 easy backstroke or freestyle]
  • 100 easy

Total: 2200

Level 3

  • 200 warmup
  • 2x[200IM or free/back mix]
  • 2x150 as 50 drill/100 build
  • 3x100 on descending time intervals (for example, on 1:55, 1:50, 1:45 or other appropriate intervals for you)
  • 4x50 as 25 fingertip drag drill/25 free breath builds where you breath 5 times first rep, 4 times second rep, 3 on third red, and only 2 breaths on last rep, all on 10 sec rest
  • Rest for 30 sec then repeat the set (minus the warmup)
  • 200 cooldown

Total: 2400


Colleen's notes: I've found that one big difference between running workouts and swimming workouts is the recovery. Where in a track workout I might have 90 seconds or 2 min recovery, I might only  get 15 seconds in a swim workout! This is a little weird to get used to at first, so ease into it and let yourself adjust as best as you can. As far as strokes go, I recommend watching some Youtube videos and asking your lifeguards for pointers on your form.


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Runner Turned Mermaid

Click here to read about how I taught myself to swim in 2015 and how I came to embrace the mermaid lifestyle both when I'm injured and when I'm healthy.

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Mermaid Turned Runner Again

Even though sometimes it seems like you'll never get healthy, you WILL! Read this article when you do.

Photos are by Talbot Cox (@TalbotCox)