By Becca Wakefield
As a long-distance Ultra Marathon runner, I’ve found nothing better than a cold-water plunge to aid my recovery after long training sessions; whether that’s in a pool, lake, sea or river.
Cold water swimming has so many benefits for fitness as well as mental and physical wellbeing- It helps stimulate blood flow to the affected muscles, helps with the breakdown of lactic acid, and can help with general energy levels, breathing control and cardiovascular health.
For me, what I find even more amazing than the fitness benefits, is the amazing impact it has on my mental wellbeing- This is the reason I’ve become so addicted to the cold water. It boosts my mood and happy hormones- and I find it’s incredibly mindful because in the moment of a long run, my only focuses are keeping my breathing under control and surviving!
As someone who struggles with anxiety, I can honestly say that nothing helps me balance my energy more than cold water swims and dips. It’s an amazing form of therapy and I urge anyone to try it and see for themselves. Being a paramedic has many rewards but balancing my stressful job and fitness goals with the joy of a cold water dip definitely helps me reset.
My top 6 tips for adding swimming into your training routine
1) Plan it into your weekly training schedule. This helps to keep yourself accountable and to find the time.
2) Start slowly! Ease yourself into it with cold showers and build yourself up to cooler temperatures.
3) Invest in good quality, quick-drying swimwear, warm towels and a fluffy jumper to ensure you can warm up straight away after.
4) If going wild swimming, always bring a friend. Safety is the top priority. This also makes it more fun, you can treat it as a social occasion!
5) Never compare yourself to anyone else. Everybody is different and our own bodies reacts differently to the cold from day to day. Whether you’re in the water for 20 seconds or 5 minutes, you will still get the benefits! Enjoyment and safety are key.
6) Find your why. Whether your primary goal is aiding recovery, increasing mood, reducing anxiety or just being in nature, all these factors can help make you more prepared and resilient to take on your running goals!