Swim recovery after ME! | Uphill Athlete

Swim recovery after ME!

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  • #54600


    Just wanted to share my experience trying swimming sessions as recovery after the intense ME sessions in Big Vert.

    I am really not a swimmer and have never really done swimming as any form of regular exercise (although I can swim).

    I am working through the Big Vert plan and have been “enjoying” the really brutal ME workouts. I think perhaps made harder by the fact I don’t use a gym at the moment so I do them outside my apt in the street and its 32C and 80+% humidity but I find them very tough. I have also historically been terrible at doing strength training and have always just ended up doing huge volumes of running and hills but not any structured strength (or not for very long).

    I just did workout #8 this week and in every other week I have generally found my legs to be in pieces 2 days after (i.e. Thursday). I always followed the Tuesday ME with a very easy recovery on Wed and Thurs but after listening to the Luke Nelson podcast with Scott I decided to try flipping out the Wednesday recovery walk/run for a swim. Ill admit I was very sceptical because it doesn’t feel like much and I am not very good so I feel a bit useless at swimming compared to running…

    But…my legs were really really noticeably better having done a swim recovery workout this week than doing a walk/jog that I would normally do. It was not subtle for me and, interestingly, my legs felt almost back to normal by Thursday and I was able to do a much more normal run session than I would usually be capable of. It could be that after 8 sessions my legs are getting better but I still find the workouts very tough so I really think the swimming had a big impact.

    Planning to continue with the swim recovery going forward.

    Anyone else had similar experiences?



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    Anonymous on #54611

    That’s what we’ve found with several clients. Super duper easy bike rides are also an option, although easy swims are probably ideal for recovery.

    DominicProvost on #54629

    I love riding my bike to the beach on rest days, it gets rid of the boredom and the jitterbugs while still being super easy recovery stuff.

    frnkr on #55453

    I’m really struggling with these as my legs take too much time to recover. Even faster walk done on Wed or Thu and I can still feel Tue work in my glutes on Fri which is not ideal if I try to add hill sprints.

    Since started ME workouts (it’s 5th week now) my legs recover even from longer uphills in 30 sec or so but the soreness after ME workouts takes 3-4 days if I’ll try to add even some amount of recovery training (faster walking as running is too hard). This is crazy as I’m not able to add enough aerobic work into my weeks 🙁

    Scott: you mentioned biking. Is that something you would do on Tue afternoon or Wed? I wonder should I add swimming in Tue afternoon and biking on Wed or vice versa? What have been the length for your easy bike rides? Thanks 🙂

    Anonymous on #55457

    The goal for these sessions is recovery which is generally facilitated by movement and circulation (as far as I understand it.) So the intensity (super low) is much more important than which activity.

    frnkr on #55465

    This is interesting topic. My understanding for this is exactly same but I’ve heard other opinions (from smart educated coaches) that one cannot speed the recovery by doing recovery workouts.

    I think if that is true then it follows that [recovery] workout needs to be one that maintain fitness best while breaking body or intervening recovery process as little as possible.

    Whichever is the case I think running beats ones legs thus it might be inferior as a recovery workout. But what would I know, just thinking out loud 😀

    Garret on #55475

    I don’t think you want to loose your ability to complete your aerobic running goals.

    My own experience with ME has been that, in order to complete my aerobic running goals, I have to start ME at signficantly lower intenstity and progress more conservatively than is suggested in TfUA, the Big Vert plan, or here on the UA website.

    On my third cycle of ME I was able to start at the level suggested in TfUA but I was still very conservative on the progression.

    The conservative ME has been very effective and I was able to get in all my runs.

    – Garret

    dan.k on #55714

    frnkr: I have definitely found a swim recovery to be much better than even a gentle run or walk. I was previously taking days to recover from ME workouts but when I swapped out the gentle run/walk with a swim I find my legs are recovered much much faster.

    I do a swim on the same day as the ME (in the afternoon/evening) and then a swim the following day instead of a recovery run. Initially I was finding that, if I did ME on Tuesday, my legs were toast on Thursday and still not great on Friday. Now I find that my legs are back to being able to do a pretty normal effort on Thursday (i.e. including some elevation).

    I don’t even do a particularly long swim. Generally have just been doing 20-30 mins each time (very easy) but the difference for me has been stark.

    After trying it once and being sceptical beforehand I have never switched back

    I would also add that I am not a “swimmer” at all…I haven’t swum much since I was at high school and even then not competitively. I can swim fine from a point of view of not drowning/getting from point A to point B but I am not a very efficient or impressive swimmer at all.

    Anonymous on #55730

    My guess is that the main mechanism is a combination of low-intensity and increased blood flow, I suspect the cool water may also help.

    I’ve read that cold water immersion, while enhancing recovery, also reduces inflammation and as a result may also reduce the response from the training stimulus. At first glance, that may sound like a bad thing, but I think it makes the tool even more useful for ME and other intensity work.

    ME in particular and high-intensity in general can reduce aerobic capacity if it’s overdone. Using easy swimming to modulate the load is a great tool to compensate for workouts that may have been too much too soon.

    I don’t know if all of that holds true, but it’s a bunch of different threads that this discussion has triggered.

    robsinco on #65083

    Really good info on this thread thanks folks, trawling the threads for swim recovery notes as I begin a new block of training.

    Enhancing recovery is such an interesting topic and highly debated.

    I find no matter your ability, if you go into the recovery activity with the mind set that the goal/your why is to recover, then your brain will definitely help govern your output.

    With swimming I have done loads of it to cross train with running, every type of session imaginable, through a mix of fun, add extra aerobic, ling strength, get through an injury, and also to improve fitness. But like what Scott says in Uphill Athlete book, it has to be specific to the sport for progression, and you don’t want to start smashing swim sessions when they are meant to be for recovery only, as you could risk becoming a burly runner! So I think swimming is specific for recovery is what I am trying to say hahaha as it promotes blood flow with the body in a horizontal position as the heart does not have to work so hard to pump blood around the body and thus circulates better.

    Recovery can definitely be enhanced by mindset, whether for you that is truely putting the feet up, a shakeout run or easy bike, you got to experiment what works best over several weeks as the ME sessions progress.

    Actually away for an easy 30 tonight, with the top up of a sauna session, get the blood plasma flowing!

    alpinejoe on #65249

    My doc told me he hypothesizes that the compression pressure of water may also be part of the benefit. In any case, even just playing in the pool with my 7 year old works for me! Not a real swim session, but no risk of overdoing the exercise and seems to really help.

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