Does a 3km swim = 12km run?

That was the question on my mind Saturday. Since I can’t run right now, I’m sticking to swimming until I can get back to the road.

I want to use swimming as physical and mental preparation for Boston, so now that my leg is feeling stronger I want to challenge myself with some tougher pool workouts.

Everything I found online suggested that the rule of equating swimming distance to running distance is 1:4. So if you swim 1km, that’s the equivalent of a 4km run, give or take. Other sites said it was more of a 1:5 ratio. Obviously it depends on your level of exertion and even on what type of stroke you do, seeing as butterfly or free requires more effort than breast stroke (at least, for me! But then my version of butterfly is basically flopping around in the water and heaving my head and arms up every few seconds for a gargled gulp of air).

I have to admit, hearing that an entire 40 lengths of swimming translates to a measly 4 km run was, frankly, demoralizing. Since I had to skip my planned 30km run on Sunday, did that mean I’d have to swim 7 km – 280 lengths?!?!?! – to make up for it?

(This only increased the massive amount of respect and awe I have for long-distance swimmers. I’ve mentioned Annaleise Carr on this blog before – she swam 52 km across Lake Ontario in 2012, and plans to swim across Lake Erie this summer. Wow!)

Here are my two issues with swimming really long distances:

– it gets boring. I never get bored on long runs because even if I run out of things to think about, I can look around at the scenery, traffic, people watch, talk to other runners if I’m racing or with a friend, etc. I can also listen to music or podcasts on my iPod shuffle, which I can’t do in the water. And when you’re in the pool your view is pretty much limited to the tiles underneath you, the odd creepy floating bandaid or clump of hair, a quick side-angle flash of the lifeguard on deck as your head pivots for a breath, or a sliver of thigh or arm belonging to the swimmer in the lane next to you. Riveting stuff.

– pool sessions aren’t usually long enough. The pool I’m swimming at now only offers length swimming at certain times of the day and only for an hour (max 1.5 hours) at a time. Luckily my work schedule is flexible, but with only an hour of swimming available I find I can’t do anything past 2.5 km. before the whistle is blown and the lifeguards are throwing tot docks in the shallow end for the upcoming swimming lessons.

So I didn’t think I could do 7 km in the pool. I still wanted to challenge myself by swimming my longest distance yet. And I did! 3 km, or 120 lengths, and I included speed intervals which, I have to admit, made me feel super hardcore haha. Personally, it felt a little harder than a 12 km run to me, but who knows. Swimming has always felt like more a workout for me. I’m just hoping swimming will help me both recover from the strain AND pick up where I left off when I get the all-clear from my physiotherapist to lace up my shoes again.

Questions: anyone know why the cute, colourful Speedo suits have to cost an extra $25 than the boring basic black/blue ones? I bit the bullet and bought a new suit last weekend because I’ve been in constant danger of flashing pool patrons for quite awhile now (I’ve had the same Speedo Endurance+ suit since 2007, and it has gotten me through three years of lifeguarding, swimming and a triathlon, so even if the prices are awful the quality isn’t!). I KNOW the cool printed suits don’t make you faster, but still…

– and what do you think about the 1:4 ratio of swimming to running? Does it make sense? What sport is harder for you?



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