Alternate exercise helps injured
By Fred Deckert
Injured runners are a pathetic group. Often when they feel the need for enough exercise to overcome their guilt complex they turn to biking or swimming for pain free workouts. Then the problem arises regarding how much running or swimming will take the place of the absent running exercise. If it’s calories expended that you count then a rough judgment would be a comparison of the time expended vs. the running time usually spent. Unfortunately that isn’t always comparable, due to the different nature of the exercises. If you are a mediocre or poor swimmer as I am, a short swim tires you out and you need to rest before you can resume, a sort of unplanned interval operation. Biking introduces another variable, you are often able to coast, especially down hills, this option is almost non existent in running, so you either have to pedal furiously all the time, which can be a dangerous option, or extend the bike time a bit to compensate.
That said, the alternate exercises are well worth the trouble, both swimming and running will reduce the impact problems and perhaps exercise muscles in non-painful ways while you recover to hopefully run again. Perhaps the most practical comparison you can make is the perceived workload, i.e., how tired are you after a workout? Another possibility for the neophyte biker or swimmer might be to consult with one of the numerous area triathletes like Dana Stetson, Bob Keller, or Barbara McNeal who through their regular training may well be able to advise on the comparative benefits of each exercise. Dana’s alligator racing is NOT advised for members of the saner population.
In my own case, I find it’s necessary to plan a whole new set of logistics. Where I used to step outside and start running, now I need to find a convenient pool or lake in which to swim. Unfortunately most are some distance away. A more satisfying solution is to hop on the bike and pedal to the swimming site. This involves a bit more planning, you don’t want to bike during heavy traffic periods unless there’s a safe bike path available. But, this does have the nice feature of mixing two exercises. Who knows, you might find or develop a hidden talent and turn into a triathlete, or at least a duathlete.