Whether you call it water running or aqua jogging, the premise is the same – get in the pool and run. Seems so simple, but let me just tell you, it’s not. Given my recent foot injury, I have been significantly sidelined from any weight-bearing cardio, including running, walking, elliptical, treadmill, the stairclimber, etc. And it is killing me. Not only am I super frustrated in my lack of exercise these last 6 weeks, but my cardio capacity has dropped, I’ve put on a few pounds, and I am missing out on my therapy sessions (running is my alone-time). The doctor did clear me to be on the stationary bike (keep my butt in the seat) or get in the pool. Like most runners, I prefer to stay dry. The thought of jumping in the pool for exercise was absurd to me. But I started this weekend, and I hope to build a new skill – water running.
What is water running?
Simple to understand, water running is just that – get in the pool and run. Those in rehab or have been injured can use the pool to their benefit because of the lack of gravity. It replicates running, but requires less harsh impact on the joints because of the water. “Water running is an ideal way to continue conditioning without the pounding,” Herbert said. “As runners we have to accept that gravity is our enemy.” There are a two types of water running – shallow and deep water running. During shallow-water running, the runners feet stay on the bottom of the pool while running, whereas during deep-water running, the runners feet don’t touch the bottom of the pool, and is considerably more challenging.
When it comes for water running, like other workouts, form is key. Keep the body as vertical as possible and mimic the motion of running on land, while pumping the arms and legs during each stride. I recently tried out water running at our fitness center, and it was a real workout. The gym provided me with an AquaJogger Active Water Exercise Buoyancy Belt to use as well. This belt is worn around the waist and provides additional resistance during the run. Plus it helped me to maintain proper form, given that I was a beginner.
5 Benefits of Water Running
- Great for rehab – impact free: Let’s be honest, my injury is THE reason I am even in the water. As I approached the instructor at my recent AquaBlast class on Sunday, I was the youngest person in the water by about 30 years. Her first comment to me as I introduce myself – “are your here for rehab?” Sad to say, but it’s true. Most middle-aged adults are not doing water aerobics, as the classes don’t offer enough. Water running is different. I did feel like I taxed by body when I ran in the pool for 20 minutes. And when it comes to my foot injury, every step I took was impact free. This will allow me to maintain at least 90% of my fitness level, if I keep consistent with my water running. Pretty impressive.
- No hassle – keep your head above water and stay dry: Looking for a mid-day workout and have to head back to work? Water running is perfect. You don’t even have to get your hair wet. Hope in the pool, do your laps, towel off, and head to your afternoon meeting. Hassle free.
- Maintain and enhance running performance: Since aqua jogging or water running is all about focusing on proper form and posture, runners may even see in improvement in their performance when they incorporate water running. As a runner for the last 9-10 years, proper form is actually something I never focus on. Water running forces you to evaluate form first, so hopefully my race times will improve and I will see more personal records!
- Adjustable workouts: Never let your body get comfortable – that’s the key to seeing changes in the gym. You must always shock your body. One of the best aspects of water running is the flexibility of the workout itself. Every 2 weeks, take the time to adjust. Don’t let your body get comfortable. Incorporate rest breaks, do intervals, and shock your body.
- Resistance training: One of the best aspects of water workouts – built-in resistance training. Every movement in the water offers resistance, which means additional cardiovascular benefit and muscular toning. Water running offers a total body workout – working out the heart, the arms, legs, and core. Whew! I am tired.
Finally, and perhaps THE BIGGEST BENEFIT of water running – A MORE EFFICIENT WORKOUT. Due to the increase in resistance from the water, the average calorie burn is approximately 11.5 calories per minute in the pool, versus 8 calories per minute on land. Translate that into the real world – my 30 minute run today burned 345 calories in the pool versus 240 calories on the treadmill. A more efficient workout?! Yes, please! Where do I sign up?