On our way home from Boston a couple months ago, my husband and I were talking running, which happens to be a big conversation piece for us since we’re both runners. I may be the more serious runner but Rob tolerates my passion and commitment to the sport. As we were discussing our past run, a kind gentleman sitting next to my husband over heard us and said ……“you must be marathon runners?”. My husband and I smiled and nodded our heads.
The conversation began and never ended till our plane landed 3 hours later. Turns out our new friend Bob, is not only a runner himself but a retired elite runner. It was a real treat to share running experiences with him and more importantly, learn from him.
He asked me if I pool run? Me pool run; me and the pool aren’t the best of friends. So the answer was, “no, I swim but only when I have to, or to be honest, when I’m injured”. Knock on wood; but it’s been a few years since an injury has put me pack into a COLD pool.
In fact about a month ago or so I showed up at the pool because of my conversation with Bob, (which follows so keep reading), and several of my pool friends who I haven’t seen in a long time asked me, “what injury do you have?” I was so relieved to tell them, “I am not injured this time around but just doing some pool work one or two days a week to take some pounding off my legs.” They all said….“good for you Karen?“. They dislike running as much as I dislike a cold pool?. It takes me forever to get my entire body into the pool………I start with my big toe and slowly talk myself into a jump. Brrrr….and look like this.
The other day in one of my running magazines, I discovered a great article and it really resonated with me. It stated if you are injured, try your best to be positive. Remember how lucky you are because you have so many other activities you GET to do other than run. So instead of saying; “I have to swim today because I can’t run”, say “I get to swim with some great friends at the pool this morning?”. With a more positive attitude, you’ll discover a break from running can actually make you stronger if you let it.
So, thankfully I’m not injured, just learning to train differently as a master runner in her fifties. During my conversation with Bob he shared he has all his runners he works with, in the pool for one or two workouts a week. It not only helps avoid injury, but improves form, and helps you to become a faster runner. Hmmmmm….I was all ears.
I thought, how does a runner like me who is approaching mid-fifties get faster? Not sure but I was willing to make friends with the pool! Pool Running, however was new to me. In the past, I would do a variety of swimming drills such as 10 timed 50 yard swims after a 1000 meter warm up, another 500 meter swim, ending with a couple more drills and a cool down with a few more laps. My more experienced pool friends always made sure I got in a great workout. Trust me, it’s HARD work!
But running in the pool was a new concept and I was a bit nervous actually! Bob sent me some workouts and I did some research online as well. Turns out, pool running or deep water running, also called aqua jogging, is done for two main reasons: ONE because you are injured or TWO because you’re using it as an element of cross training in your marathon training program. For me its the later so lets talk about the benefits of Pool Running for non injured runners like me.
After reading more about pool running and chatting with Bob, I discovered the advantages of using pool running for general cross-training are quite similar as the benefits for injured runners. Although it may not feel like you’re working that hard when you’re deep water running because you’re probably not sweating since most pools are quite cool, a runner can boost or maintain cardiovascular fitness when pool running. In fact, I found that my heart rate is not that much lower when I am doing intervals in the pool vs running them on land. I am still working on the technique and trying out various workouts but I do believe pool running mimics the muscular physiology of running in the legs, and has the added bonus of giving tired joints and feet a break (and thus reducing the chances of injury). My goal as an aging runner!
- I am currently experimenting with a floatation belt (pictured above) supplied by my local pool but thinking of investing in this one.
- I don’t have the hang of this yet and continue to to watch You Tube videos myself so if you want to learn more, I suggest going to You Tube and type in “pool running” like I did.
- I tried a couple of workouts from Bob and over time I think I’ll improve. For example: 1 hour in the pool: I warmed up for 10 minutes with a jog and than I did 8×5 minute @tempo pace with 2 minute recoveries. I cooled down for the remainder of my hour in the pool. My biggest issue is knowing if I am running them fast enough.
- Also, I think I look funny and all the swimmers kind of look at me weird, but than again, I’m used to it. I was running and living a “green” lifestyle way before it was cool to do so. Besides, I am not trying to impress anyone.
- When I was done, I did feel a bit wobbling in my legs so I must have done something right becasue I felt like I got a workout in even though I wasn’t sweating.
- I must be doing something right…..and not all wrong, since I came out feeling tired making my strength training session a bit more challenging shortly after my pool run.
So these are just some beginning thoughts and as I get the hang of this more and more, I’ll probably repost with an update. In the meantime, pool running has shown itself to be an interesting alternative to running for both injured runners and those looking to diversify their cross-train. Besides, I’m willing to try anything if it makes me stronger and more importantly, keeps me running for a few more decades….that would put me into my 90’s. Wozer, that’s a lot of running?