Jannine MyersOkinawa is a tough place for runners to acclimate to, especially during the summer months when heat and humidity conditions cause even those who have already acclimated, to either slow down, reduce their volume of running, and run only before the sun has risen or after it has set. This has been a complaint I have recently seen addressed on the WOOP forum, and one I find myself discussing with some of my running clients and friends I run with.
I came across this article on Runnersworld a few days ago, and although it was first published in 2003, I believe it's content is still current and beneficial. It's an article about pool running, and what better way to stay cool while running in the heat? Not only that, but there are other great benefits of using pool running as a cross-training alternative, or substituting it for one of your runs altogether. If you dislike running in the heat, or if you are injured or pregnant, please keep reading:
Head For The Pool
By Bob Wischnia & Marc Bloom Published 09/05/2003
If you think pool running is weird, boring, and wouldn't do much for your fitness, we're guessing you've never tried it. That's too bad, because it's hands-down the best cross-training activity for runners (and a lot more fun than it looks).
Granted, it looks a little odd, but so what? Thirty years ago, people used to think running looked pretty odd, too, and look how wrong they were.
Here are the two big reasons you should try pool running:
To boost fitness: "Without exaggeration, every single one of the runners who takes my pool-running classes gets faster on the roads," says coach Doug Stern, who conducts classes for the New York City Road Runners Club. And they do so without increasing their injury risk one bit, as pool running is completely non-impact (you don't touch the bottom).
To recover from injury: Pool running is the best cross-training exercise for runners because it's hardly cross-training at all. It's running--in a pool. A whole host of injuries--shinsplints, stress fractures, and plantar fasciitis among them--won't keep you from pool running. Therefore, you won't lose one iota of fitness during your healing period.
What's more, research has shown that injured runners who pool run can reach the same positive mood state as when they run. No surprise here. You're not sitting around sulking, you're staying fit, and recovering from your injury.
For years, world-class runners have used pool running to maintain their conditioning when they can't run. Marathon world record holder Khalid Khannouchi ran in the pool to stay in shape when a recent foot injury prevented him from doing his normal training. Janis Klecker, a 1992 Olympic marathoner, has done twice-a-week pool runs for years. "If I'm too tired to run," says the dentist and mother of six, "I jump in the pool. It always reenergizes me."
Finally, pool running is perfect for this time of year. It allows you to run more mileage--only you're doing some of it in the cool, supportive medium of water. Too hot for those 10 miles you had planned? No problem. Do the first 5 on the roads, then hit the pool for the same amount of time it took to do the first 5, maintaining the same level of exertion. Voilá, a 10-mile run.
If you're older or pregnant, you're an ideal candidate for pool running. Here's why:
Older runners: Because pool running can increase your range of motion--and doesn't involve pounding--it's great for older runners who suffer from arthritis or just the occasional creaky joints. Water running can actually decrease pain and stiffness, and improve joint flexibility.
Pregnant runners: Women runners in the latter stages of pregnancy--some of whom may not be able to run on land--may still be able to do so in the pool. Again, there's no pounding, and you can stay cool on hot days. Just check with your doctor first.
I started pool running 10 years ago when I injured my back. I thought I'd be bored out of my mind doing it, but I quickly found ways to make it fun. Since that time, I've made pool running a regular part of my summer training plan. I have a small group that pool runs with me. Which is my first tip for making pool running fun. --B.W.
- Go with friends. Organize a group to run at the pool together. Time will pass more quickly when you have company.
- Run for time. Commit to spend as much time in the water as you'd spend on a normal run. Just start your watch when you jump in, and get out after a predetermined time.
- Do regular running workouts. Vary the pace, the tempo, the length of time. Simulate a favorite running workout. Some type of fartlek workout, whereby you're constantly changing speeds, works best.
- Or try and do a few minutes of running with your fingers out of the water.