Earlier today, in response to an article about why swimming makes you smart, Mary posted this blog post about the real reasons that swimmers are smarter. Because I'll never let up in my battle against swimming (and because I feel like I have to make up for my uncharacteristic moment of weakness yesterday morning, when I posted a rare positive thought about swimming on social media for the world to see), I spent most of my workout this morning mentally composing this list of reasons that running is better than swimming. I could have kept going, too; I have more in my brain. Still, the list was getting long, so I decided to cut myself off at 16. So here they are, in no particular order!
1. You can look at stuff when you run.
1. You can look at stuff when you run.
Right now, Christmas decorations are out. They make me happy. Earlier in the year, I composed this blog post about 5 nice things that I get to look at while I run. You’ll notice I have no such list about swimming. That’s because when I swim, the five things I get to look at are the bottom of the pool (boring), the wall (boring), the lane line (boring), the digital clocks at the ends of the lengths (depressing), and, once a lap, Dave (gross. I know he’s my husband, but men wearing nothing but spandex bottoms are, as a rule, gross). Plus, half the time my goggles are fogged up, so I can’t even make that stuff out that well, anyways.
2. You can listen to stuff when you run.
I don’t always bring music with me when I run; I actually probably don’t bring it more than I bring it (see above-it’s because I actually get to look at stuff). Still, it’s nice to have that option. Even if I’m not listening to music, I can still listen to outdoor noises. I know that Mary has blogged about how she enjoys the noise of the water when swimming before. However, when I swim, all I can hear is my gasping, asthmatic breathing. I suppose I might enjoy the sound of the water if it wasn't drowned out by the COPD-like sounds that I make. But it is. So that's that.
3. You get to breathe the entire time that you run.
Self-explanatory. For a lifelong endurance athlete, I have zero lung capacity. I can hold my breath for about 10 seconds before I start to get really, really uncomfortable. As a child, I always lost horrifically when we would hold "see how many times you can swim across the pool in one breath" contests (which is probably why my sister became the swimmer). When Mary tries to give me stuff to do in the pool that involves me to do something other than breathe every stroke, I remind her of this fact. With running, I just get to...breathe. I don't have to time it or suffocate even at slow speeds. I appreciate that.
4. My winter running clothes are more forgiving/flattering than my bathing suits are at off season weights.
This morning, I had to wrestle my way into my bathing suit. I marveled at how it cut off half of my butt, creating a second butt. I noticed how it appeared lighter in color because it was being stretched so thin. I wondered if I was 5 months pregnant. Most unappealingly, I felt my upper back fat spilling over the straps. In my winter running clothes, though, the only thing I notice is that my thighs are kind of large in my spandex. Still, spandex prevents chafing for me, so even this isn't that bad. All those other things? They're hidden. Plus, I can tell myself that it's not me, it's the extra layers.
5. Year-round, the first minute or so of swimming absolutely sucks.
I will admit that when it's cold out, the first couple of minutes of running aren't that pleasant. However, the pool is freaking freezing every single morning, winter, spring, summer or fall. Mary has also said before she loves the first push-off from the wall. I can't say I feel the same way. In fact, I spend the entire morning dreading the moment in which I leave the warm, dry, bright, pleasant pool deck and plunge myself into the freezing cold, wet abyss. Not to mention, this moment also represents the fact that the pool workout is just beginning. Gross. At that point, I know that I'm not going to get to breathe nearly as much as I'd like to in the coming 1-1.5 hours, too.
6. You can fully wash off the running smell.
Sure, I probably smell better after getting out of the pool than I smell after finishing a run. However, after showering, the sweat odor is gone. The pool chlorine odor, though, sticks around faintly the entire day. I'll be at work writing notes, resting my head on my hand when I'll catch the slight aroma of municipal pool. Mmmm. I love smelling like a water park.
7. I don't have to pay $2.50 every time I run.
And that's a good pool price.
8. I don't have to get up at 5am to run. I can do it whenever I want to...because outside is always open.
9. When I begin/return from a run, there's exactly a 0% chance that I'm going to inadvertently see a naked old woman doing something that should be done AFTER getting dressed.
I have to say, this isn't really an issue at the Irondequoit pool. Sure, some women shower in the open showers there, but that's probably a necessity. They then grab a towel, head to the lockers, and promptly get dressed first. There's nothing wrong with that. When I swim other places, though, (i.e. the JCC), though, this isn't the case. I come out of the pool and see naked old women doing things that, in my world, rank below at least putting on underwear in priority, such as drying their hair, putting one leg up on a bench and lotioning it up (one of my personal favorites), or conversing with me. When I run, though, I'm guaranteed that there won't be any naked old women in my house.
10. I do think when I swim. It's just never about anything good.
When I swim, I'm basically forced to think about three things: 1. how far I've gone (which inevitably leads into how freaking far I still have to go); 2. what the heck my arms are doing (which inevitably frustrates/confuses me); 3. how much this either a. is really hard, b. is really slow, or c. both of the above. When I run, I can zone out and think about other things. I don't have to constantly be aware of how far I still have to go. I do try to think about my form here and there, but if I don't, it doesn't start doing something completely foreign. Which leads me to my next point.
11. My run form, while not perfect either, at least doesn't vary wildly, and I can easily better it if I actually think about it. My swim form is an enigma, and it doesn't always get better if I think about it. In fact, it probably often gets worse.
12. If you stop running, nothing bad happens. If you stop swimming, you drown.
Are there lifeguards required when I go out for runs? No.
13. I've never had a giant clump of unidentified hair intersperse itself in my fingers while running.
This has happened on more than one occasion while swimming. There's nothing worse than seeing the giant hair clump gradually drift closer and closer to you each lap, until it ends up intertwined among your fingers, forcing you to spend the rest of the interval trying to breathe sporadically and gag at the same time.
14. Speaking of hair, although running doesn't make me a beauty queen, it doesn't leave my hair quite as gnarly as swimming does.
When I get out of the pool, my hair is a snarled, birds-nest like creation sitting on the top of my head. It basically requires half a bottle of my $2/bottle Suave conditioner to untangle. Half of it then ends up on the drain of the shower, on the bathroom floor, or stuck on my work clothes. I'm not entirely sure how I actually still have hair, in fact.
15. I can enjoy the company of my dog on runs.
She does not swim. But she's kind of cute when she runs. Running makes her happy. And less annoying the rest of the day. Win-win for both of us.
16. I'm comparatively much better at running.
Let's face it, this helps. As Jesse put it at the end of the season (on a 1-10 scale, with 1 being best and 10 being worst), "if your running is a 3, your biking is a 4 and your swimming is a 9". I've missed out on a lot by swim margins these past couple of years-top 3 in my AG at age group nationals, the overall IM 70.3 amateur title last year, and the podium in all of my fall races this year. I've exited the water in DFL more than once. Given that I've put way more time and effort into swimming than running for the past year, I *might* be harboring a bit of frustration here and there.
In reality though, I really want to like swimming. I've grown to tolerate it a little bit more over the past year, and sometimes I find some redeeming qualities in it (especially when I get to wear fins). I hope that my struggles in the water will make any (relative) successes in it even sweeter if they (eventually) every happen. I've been making some progress recently, so I'm actually at a good place with it right now (this might last another day, another week, or another month...we'll see. Swimming is fickle for me). But...I'll always like running more.