If you haven’t tried pool running, now is a great time to give it a whirl! With the heat of summer upon us, a good pool workout can help you stay fit and cool at the same time. I have had the Aqua Jogger for about 20 years, but you really don’t need one to run in the pool. You can run without any device, or you can use a “noodle” that most kids use to play with in the water. Many runners (Mary Decker Slaney and Joan Benoit Samuelson to name a few) have used water running to combat injury in the height of their training. In the water, running can be continued without the impact of the hard surface of the roads. In fact, water running has an added workout benefit…resistance. You can feel the resistance immediately, and because water pressure in a pool is 12 times greater than air pressure, a pool provides two extremes at once–the resistance to stress the body, and the liquid density to protect it.
Some might feel like their heart rate cannot get high enough running in the water. However, this might be because people give up on the workout too soon when they fatigue early. Actually, every time I start running in the water, I am amazed at how quickly I fatigue. If I stick with it for more than 10 minutes, however, I find that I get into a rythym and can continue for a long time. After a while, I try to increase my pace for interval-type workouts. In water, when you double your speed, your legs encounter a four-fold increase in resistance, adding to an already intense workout!
If you are wondering about water running form, the following is a good mental picture: While running, your body should be perpendicular to the pool, and your legs should not flow as in typical running. For the most efficient form, and the greatest amount of resistance and smoothness, “sweep” your legs forward, from toes to hips, with minimal knee lift. This form, similar to the movement done on a cross-country ski machine, uses the entire leg to drive against the water. For more on water running visit Marc Bloom’s (Runner’s World) website for a very thorough article.
Have you done water running because of an injury or for something different? What kind of a workout was it for you?