Why Water Running is GREAT!
#1 It is a GREAT alternative to running in the winter months if you live in an area that makes it difficult to run outside year round. You can keep your cadence (leg turnover) up in the water and while doing so, increase strength because you are working against resistance…the water.
#2 Injured runners turn to the water for the same reasons I have stated above…to keep leg turnover rates the same as when they were running outside, except now there is no impact to worry about. This is a phenomenal exercise for runners who are experiencing joint issues. Aqua Jogging is a GREAT cardiovascular AND strength training workout that saves the joints unnecessary pounding.
#3 On that note, why wait until you are hurt to take to the pool?? I would ABSOLUTELY substitute a shorter marathon training run for a bit of Aqua Jogging. Again, by doing so you are saving the joint unnecessary jarring and perhaps preventing overuse injuries. Remember, however, longer training runs should be saved for the roads. Your body needs to adjust and adapt to the continuous pounding that is going to occur while running 26.2 miles, so the longer runs are best performed on the roads, while a recovery run could be done in a pool setting.
#4 Pregnant runners, here’s your way to keep running for all 9 months of your pregnancy. It’s hard to give up running, but for some of us (including me), we can take to the water. You can keep your fitness level up, stave off extra (unnecessary) weight gain (remember, the recommended weight gain for pregnancy is 25 to 35 pounds), and help keep the baby healthy. I once read an article that said if you exercise through pregnancy (with a doctors permission OF COURSE), your child will remain more lean for the first 5 years of his/her life than a child of a non-exercising mother. AMAZING!!!
Now, about the heart rate being a bit low….yes, in the water that is to be expected….a LITTLE bit. But here are some tips to help you raise your heart rate into your target heart rate zone:
A: When running in the water, don’t fist your hands, but make little ‘cups’ with them. That way, it’s a bigger surface pulling against the water and makes it more difficult to move the arms.
B: Alternate running legs (moving your legs as you would running on the streets) with cross country legs (alternating legs front to back, but keeping legs as straight as possible without locking out the joint/knees). You can also add a pointed foot/toe to the cross country which will, again, create a greater surface area, making the leg pull more difficult.
C: Add bouts of speed work. There is nothing wrong with doing a little bit of sprinting in the water. Interval your workouts occasionally. Do a 150 yard warm up (nice easy jogging), followed by 100 yards of RUNNING. Then alternate jogging and sprinting every 50 to 100 yards. You can also increase your cardiovascular health and endurance with this exercise.
D: Remember when you are running in the water to keep your chest high and shoulders back. Do not let your upper body get ahead of your lower body. That is not the way you would want your form to look on the roads, so…whatever you do…don’t change it in the pool.
Enjoy the water. It’s a nice change and your muscles will appreciate the change in environment.