like a fish… - Chi Running

like a fish…

Posted by Elizabeth Frost on Thu Nov 6th, 2008, 7 comments

so instead of doing an additional run this week, I decided to splash around in some liquid chlorine. yummy.

i spent 10 consecutive summers swimming for the neighborhood pool league in the ‘burbs of Denver, so I am comfortable in the water and it was good to stretch out and exercise that way.

I only spent 30 minutes in the pool: did 200 warm up, then 100 working on stroke… then I used a kickboard for 100 m and used the leg floaters to do 150 m stroke drills and then a 100 warm down. nothing too intense, but it felt good.

The pool wasn’t super busy so I had my own lane for 3/4 of my workout, which was nice. I tried to breathe out all my breath, as it’s one of those things that stuck with me for those years of swimming as a kid and then at CU Boulder on the triathlon team: Breathe out all your air so that when you take a breath in, you get as much as you need.

This is the exact same principle that Danny addresses in ChiRunning: to breathe out fully so that you can breathe in fully to get maximum usage of the air… except that in water, for most people, it’s very easy to avoid doing that, but the problem becomes a question of hyperventilation, and it water, that’s a scary proposition.

I want to check out Total Immersion swimming… but a DVD or try to go to a workshop. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, Total Immersion is to swimming what ChiRunning is to running: don’t force it!

Anyway, I felt appropriately fatigued, though I knew I could have swum longer, I didn’t want to.

As I was driving home, I remembered this amazing thing about swimming that’s different from any other sport: every single cell in your body is tired after swimming. It’s like with running certain things might be more fatigued that other parts of your body, but with swimming-(please let me know if you agree)-all cells and muscles are ‘used’ and though some workouts might leave your body less tired or more tired, the whole body feels it. It’s a delicious feeling and one a really enjoy.

Plus, swimming has always left me with a healthy appetite and there’s nothing like eating a big meal after swimming. When I was in college, after that 90 min swim workouts, we’d go eat pizza, beer and a whole pint of ice cream. YUM!

I noticed that my heart rate was much lower than when I run, but my PRE was higher when I swam: it only peaked about 130 during the whole time I swam, but I felt like I was exerting myself at about 6 or 7 on a scale of 10, which when running, (for now) gets my HR up around 170…



  • heart rate,
  • swimming,
  • total immersion

7 CommentsLeave a comment below

Peter Schrier May 9th, 2011 03:37am

Hi Elizabeth,

I discovered Total Immersion Swimming late last year, while reading Danny’s book. As I want to do a Triathlon later this year, and I knew my swiimming is my weakest of the three sports, I decided to give it a try. I use the DVD as in the Netherlands there are no TI Swimmong coaches.

What I experiemce while training, is that I am more relaxed in the water and capable of keeping more relaxed for longer periods of time.

And indeed, after the swim workout, the WHOLE body is fatigued. Not only a few parts.

As I am recovering from a metatarsal fracture, the combination of cycling, swimming and a walk2run program is giving me my strength back and the possibility to gradual build up the endurance again.


Hi Peter - thanks for your note. Yes, Total Immersion is pretty awesome stuff. I managed to get my hands on a DVD after I posted this blog and watched it. In fact, just recently been able to put it back to use (rejoined a gym with a pool!)

Good luck with your Tri training. Triathlons are some of the most fun events to do, in my opinion. Sounds like you’re healing well with your metatarsal fracture - keep us posted on your progress and success!

Thanks Peter - Liz

Peter Schrier May 9th, 2011 08:47am

Hi Liz,

With my foot I violated once the ‘Law of Gradual Progress’. So, in recovery I am paying more respect to Body Sensing. And by doing a more diverse workout during the week, I hope to influence my recovery positively.

I will keep you posted on my progress.

BTW, we still have to figure out how to apply the common principles of ChiRunning an TI Swimming to cycling wink

Thanks for your encouraging words.

Yes, TI is really awesome. Like Peter, am also self-taught. I’ve never felt so fishlike in water. Before, I was trashing furiously in water for speed, but now am gliding effortlessly. I enjoy how it helps me to focus almost meditatively in water which I find easier to achieve than when running as there is less distraction in water. I also like the fact that both Chirunning & TI focuses on ‘practice’. I don’t know if one day I will be able to take part in any race event but for now, everyday is a practice for my mind and body. Simply exhilarating!

Peter Schrier Sep 5th, 2011 04:23am

Hi Elisabeth,

Yesterday was the day of my first Triathlon ever. 1/8th distance, so 500 m swimming, 20 km cycling, 5 km running. And I enjoyed every minute of it.

As the start with swimming was chaotic, I cuold not find my cadence in crawl, resulting in coughing, feeling that I could not get enough air. So I decided on the spot to change to ‘normal’ breaststroke. And came out the water midfield (whi9le I started as one of teh last ones).

During cycling I kept constantly ion mind…do not push it…keep your legs supple moving. Do it on souplesse, not on brute force.

Still, my upperlegs were sore on the first few hundred meters running, as were my belly muscles. I directly checked many of the focus points and after 1 km all felt smooth again.

As for my first time in a triathlon, the ChiRunning/Ti swmming principles and mindset has given me enormous pleasure during the race. And very valuable checkpoints (am I still relaxed, how can I keep the voice that urges me to go quicker than I can silent).

Today I am experiencing a very little soreness in my upperlegs, and nothing more. Which gives me an indication that I did the race relatively relaxed. grin

Hi Peter! It’s great to hear from you again. Thanks so much for your note. It certainly sounds like you’re really progressing with your swimming… and your running. Isn’t it so cool to finish a big event and hardly be sore at all?

I love the word souplesse… it sounds nice even though I have no idea what it means!

Hi Elisabeth,
Sorry to have mixed in French. The closest translation, I think, for souplesse is flexibility/suppleness…but what I really meant was that I was striving not to use brute force in the cycling leg, but use a light gear and relative high cadence to maintain speed.

And yes it is cool to feel so little soreness right after the race, and the days after. grin

The principles of ChiRunning and TI Swimming to me were crucial to finish with no injuries, and as a by-product finish in midfield (while I expected beforehand to finish in the last rows).


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