Ingmarie Nilsson is a swimrunner, yogi, former elite runner, and one of the most exciting people you’ll probably meet. We wanted to share her story with everyone! Also, she has done our training programs for core strength and an extensive blog about how to train your core, with instructional videos to all exercises!
Ingmarie Nilsson on training
Life has it turns. You think you’ve figured it out and you think there are things you “never will do” as well as “always will do”. But the truth is there is no such thing as a complete truth or even a “never” or “always”. Except maybe that nothing lasts forever. When I was an elite runner I thought I’d always be able to run fast. I even thought those “oldies” were a little bit pathetic when they ran and talked about PB:s in their age group. Yes I know, it was so stupid! I feel ashamed just thinking about it!
Today I know that age slows down the pace and that age groups are a fantastic thing! Every 5th year I´m the youngest again! So I´m still running, I still race, I still do PB:s and I still do course-records because of that.
How I started swimming
I don’t know where this longing for swimming came from. I’ve never been a water-lover. I even hated to dip my head and I hated to freeze. Yet, there was something with swimming that got me. It looked so cool and so beautiful when someone was swimming in a lake with the sun glimmering in the water. So I started to practice a little bit in the pool with some friends that helped me. I hated it! It was hard, difficult, frustrating and I thought that I never would be able to crawl even 50 meters.
I had PT:s and trained in small groups but still didn´t like it and still didn’t figure it out. I felt I was bad, like impossible bad. So I quitted, started again, quitted, started, quitted, started, quitted, and started, and then a man called Mats in my hometown Halmstad (I can’t remember how he “found” me) asked if I wanted to join for open water swim in “Torvsjön”.
I just said NO WAY.
Getting into the water
But Mats kept on asking and finally, I said yes. I didn’t know anyone in that little group, I was terribly scared and it WAS terrible but there was something in all of it that made me feel that I was ready to give it a try. From the bottom of my heart and soul, I wanted to master this thing called swimming.
This is about six years ago now. Mats also tried to convince me to try swimrun after a while but for me, he could just as well have asked me to try to walk to the moon.
From swimming to swimrun?
Swimming for me was still a struggle, it was freezing and scary. Combining it with running was out of the question. But life is unpredictable. Another friend asked if I could be a stand-in to the Ångaloppet-sprint since his teammate had gotten injured. We wouldn´t even need wetsuits. It is still an enigma how, but I did say yes. And we did that race. My poor friend had to wait in the water swimming on his back because I was so slow! But then and there I caught the swimrun-bug and if you´ve got it you never get rid of it. I started to train more swimming and after a while, I joined a swim group in Stockholm. I was determined to learn the secrets of swimming even though I still hated it and struggled a lot.
The year after Ångaloppet I did the Utö sprint-race with a friend who’s a triathlete and a really good swimmer. I did some more races, trained more and things slowly, slowly started to change.
Slowly, I became better and better and after a while, I wasn’t the slowest any longer. I even did races when I dragged my team partner. (THAT was a boost!) This doesn’t mean that I’m the fastest but it means that I’ve come far from absolutely nothing and that hard work beats talent. Nothing came for free when it comes to training and especially not when it comes to swimming. I still find it hard, I struggle a lot, but now I can say I truly love swimming and can’t live without it! Just as I love swimrun. Training in a group is both fun and it challenges you, but I also like to train on my own. The good thing is that I don´t have to choose, both ways work! Just as with running.
Planning training and recovery
I have no problem composing my own program when it comes to running but for me, it’s really good to have a swim program. I like that someone has a plan for me and that I don’t have to think, I just do.
When it comes to recovery I don’t plan that much. Often it comes naturally via my work schedule, races, and how I feel. I’m not “addicted” to a plan even though I very, very seldom cancel a planned session. For me, recovery doesn’t have to be “no training”. (To be honest, I can’t even remember when I had a training-free day last time…) It’s more about doing some very light activity like yoga and/or pool run.
Whats best, racing or training?
Actually, I don’t have to race. I’ve done that so much already. That doesn’t mean I don’t like to race. Some of my best memories are from races. Like Solvalla, Utö, Final 15, Stora Stöten, Brotorp, and Bocksten swimrun. It’s fantastic to see and experience new places and I love to be in a team with a friend and work together. Just as I love to meet up with some friends with no real goal more than to create memories together. Last year I invited some people to join me for a couple of hours of swimrun starting just outside my apartment. (My neighbors are getting used to our outfits…) Afterward we had Fika and talked for hours. It was so much fun! Sometimes I go by myself and create my own adventures and own memories. That’s also nice. But I also remember those swimrun-sessions when I’ve been freezing so much that I’ve cried. It’s not all about sunshine and happy moments. Just as life itself I guess. It goes up and down. Thankfully more up than down though.
In the end, it’s all about the feeling of freedom, friendship, teamwork, adventure, and beauty for me… And I’m so grateful I’m one of those who can do that cool open water-swimming in the glimmering water now.