Log­ging Miles Wa­ter Run­ning

Triathlon Magazine Canada - - Front Page - By Lisa Bent­ley

Af­ter­be­ing or­dered not to run for three weeks right in the mid­dle of my univer­sity track sea­son, I dis­cov­ered wa­ter run­ning. An in­jury forced me to sub­sti­tute some bik­ing and swim­ming for run­ning, but I was nei­ther a cy­clist nor a swim­mer, so I ex­plored wa­ter run­ning. That was more than 25 years ago. Al­though many peo­ple find wa­ter run­ning bor­ing, I have em­braced it as a way to run without im­pact – to run without run­ning. When I re­turned to the track, not only did I run fast, but I was pain-free. When­ever you have to give up some­thing, you need to find a re­place­ment. I re­mem­ber giv­ing up Diet Coke back in 2002. I re­placed it with bub­bly wa­ter – keep­ing the bub­bles but get­ting rid of the ar­ti­fi­cial sweet­ener.

I love to run. It was my first sport and has al­ways been my pas­sion. There is noth­ing sweeter than start­ing the day with a run leav­ing you re­freshed and in­vig­o­rated. The down­side of run­ning is that at some point ev­ery run­ner has to take a break from it whether to re­cover from a big race or an in­jury. The phys­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal an­guish of miss­ing the adrenalin rush of run­ning is chal­leng­ing for ath­letes. I know this well. I have evolved from the ath­lete who could not bear to miss one sin­gle run, to some­one who has taken sev­eral months off of run­ning by choice and yet main­tained fit­ness.

I have sub­sti­tuted thou­sands of land miles with wa­ter miles. In 2007, when a chronic Achilles is­sue fi­nally de­manded a two- to three-month break from run­ning, I wa­ter ran and swam ev­ery sin­gle day for two weeks (no bik­ing or run­ning) and then grad­u­ally rein­tro­duced bik­ing. That was mid-April, May and June. In mid-June, I re-in­tro­duced run­ning three days per week start­ing with a walk/run pro­gram and I kept up my wa­ter run­ning three days each week to sim­u­late my typ­i­cal six runs per week. In Au­gust, I raced Subaru Ironman Canada on min­i­mum land mileage and a long run of 90 min­utes only ( Ed­i­tor’s note: Bent­ley also won the race.) The resistance train­ing of the wa­ter made me stronger, re­in­forced my aer­o­bic en­gine, sim­u­lated run­ning and kept me healthy enough to race.

Cur­rently, I run three to four days per week – ev­ery other day so that any inf lam­ma­tion can heal in 48 hours be­fore my next fun run. I wa­ter run when­ever I am able. I know it is a good workout and it makes me feel like I have done a workout without the im­pact. This past year, in prepa­ra­tion for the Bos­ton Marathon, my max­i­mum weekly land mileage was 50 km, con­sist­ing of one tread­mill speed workout, one hill workout and one long run (1.5 to 2.5 hours). My “aquatic mileage” was about two to three hours per week. Of course, I was cycling and swim­ming for fit­ness as well, but I think it is a tes­ta­ment to cross train­ing that I man­aged to run with the women run­ning over 100 miles per week.

Give me the deep end of any pool, lake or ocean and I can sim­u­late a land run any­where. I know that run­ning is the eas­i­est, most ver­sa­tile workout any­one can do, but run­ning on land isn’t al­ways the smartest or health­i­est choice. By in­te­grat­ing wa­ter run­ning into your run­ning pro­gram, you will add years to your run­ning life­time. How It’s Done Wa­ter run­ning might look awk­ward, as it is lit­er­ally run­ning in the wa­ter. Grab a f lota­tion belt (even a Croc san­dal in your bathing suit can suf­fice) and jump in the deep end of the pool where you can move without touch­ing the bot­tom. Sim­u­late your run­ning stride the best you can. A com­mon mis­take is to “cy­cle” in the wa­ter, but run­ning is not an up and down cir­cle with the knees. When you run, your knee comes to­ward your chest and then your foot lands in front of your body and you run over it. Your foot hits the ground and your body moves in front and then you kick up your heels to­ward your back. In the wa­ter, you want to bring your knee to­ward your chest and then kick out so that you sim­u­late run­ning over your feet. Then bring the leg back be­hind your body us­ing your glute mus­cles. Keep your shoul­ders back – you want a slight lean for­ward as in run­ning but the ten­dency is to lean too far for­ward, so be sure to keep your

ab­dom­i­nals tight and shoul­ders back. You should feel your hip f lex­ors work­ing hard against the resistance of the wa­ter and your glutes work­ing on the pull back of your land­ing leg. Your arms should move just as they do when run­ning on land. Of­ten peo­ple in­cor­rectly use their arms for f lota­tion. In­stead, keep your un­der­arms as close to your body as pos­si­ble and pump them back and forth.

Many coaches will say that it is not nec­es­sary to run as long in the wa­ter as on land. I dis­agree. While it might be hard to con­vince your­self to stay in the wa­ter for the du­ra­tion of your run, I have al­ways made my wa­ter runs the same length as if it was on land. The only dif­fer­ence is that I re­quire less re­cov­ery in be­tween hard wa­ter run­ning in­ter­vals. Here I pro­vide some of my favourite wa­ter run­ning work­outs. Note that one lap should be the length of the deep-wa­ter part of your pool, which for me is 25 m.

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