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New-to-Running Workout for Swimmers

The 130-160 Workout

This comes from Kansas Swim & Dive Head Coach, Clark Campbell.


This a heart-rate (HR) based, new-to-running workout for swimmers finding themselves relegated to land-based training with the global pandemic.  All you need is a heart-rate monitor (HRM…wearables work as well!) and good pair of running shoes.


Here’s the workout:

  1. Start out with easy running (I loathe the term ‘jog’).
  2. Once your HR hits 160 beats per minute (bpm), start walking.
  3. Once the HR hits 130 (bpm), start back with easy running.
  4. Repeat this sequence of run to 160 bpm, walk to 130 bpm for the duration of your workout time.



  • The first key of this workout is staying between 130-160 bpm. This range works well for most if you’re under 40 and reasonably fit.  If you have a naturally high HR, your range may be 140-170.  Same thing if you have a low HR.  A range of 120-150 may work better. If you’re over 40 reduce the range by 10 bpm for each decade. You will be shocked how easy it is reaching the upper limit.  That’s ok…you’re becoming a more efficient runner and you can improve a lot going easy!
  • The second key is VOLUME! We get good at swimming because we can train for a reasonably long period of time (60-120+ minutes) per session.  Most runners do not do this type of volume consistently.  This workout allows us moving for more time than if we just run to the point of exhaustion.
  • Aim for a total of 20-60 minutes. As your body allows, gradually add more time to the workout.  You want to work without getting hurt.  Remember, as swimmers, your engine (heart, lungs, etc) are in shape.  The tiny muscles, ligaments and tendons in the lower body are not.  They need time becoming durable! 
  • 60 minutes max is limit for us swimmers. More could compromise your immune system which is something we want to avoid right now.
  • Notice the use of time vs miles. Your HRM/wearable has a stopwatch.  Go by time…who cares how many miles!
  • If you do not have an HRM/wearable, go by perceived exertion (PE). It’s less exact, but it can work if you listen to your body.  Try a 1-10 PE scale.  Once you hit ‘6’ while running, start walking until you get to ‘2’, then back to running.
  • As you improve, you will notice more time running, less walking. This will happen gradually.  If it’s warm outside, you may spend more time walking and that’s ok!
  • This is a Low Intensity Training (LIT) session! Keep the High Intensity Training (HIT) sessions at modest level (if at all) during this time.  No need lowering our immunity.
  • The 130-160 works on the road, track, trail, treadmill, etc. Just keep your social distance 😊