Can’t Run on Land? Run in Water!

From The Aqua Jogger

Going from running long distances and doing triathlons to sitting on the sidelines and starting over again, completely unable to run 3 miles straight has been somewhat mentally devastating (and humbling) to me as I try to get back into training. Let’s just say, it’s been a loooong three months post-surgery for me. I had a hysterectomy in May, at the 6 week mark I started walk-running again which hurt my midsection A LOT, and shortly after that I injured my midsection which set me back another couple of weeks.

The week I was cleared for swimming, I started swimming a lot and actually loving it, way more than I had before. It was the only thing I could do that didn’t HURT. I found comfort in it. I could swim the distances I could swim before, just not as fast (not that I was fast before because I wasn’t.)

Then, I decided I’d just do a lap in the water, running. I had watched the football player-y types come in and run laps in the pool, so I figured I’d give this thing a try. It was UNREAL.

I was out of breath. My thighs were on fire. I would run one lap and then sprint swim back and I did this a whole mess of times before I was completely tired out in a good way. 

It was amazing. I get it. I get why they do this now.

Olympians have even done water running while injured or even as a supplement to their running.

You can continue to walk instead of running, which according to Jeff Galloway is very effective, OR you can do water running. And it’s not just for those of us nursing injuries, but for anyone wanting a running workout with lower impact.

There are two ways to water run; one is the way I did it which is running across the pool with your feet making contact with the bottom. The other way to water run is deep water running, where you run in the deep end of the pool or in water over your head, usually with a flotation device around your midsection to keep you above water (to you know, breathe.) 

Form, as I found out, is very important while water running. If you are deep water running, only your shoulders, neck and head should be out of the water. Your head should be centered, your body leaning forward only slightly and your chest expanded and open with your shoulders pulled back. Here’s a description of how your feet should move, from Human Kinetics.

During the gait cycle, the feet change position from no flexion (imagine standing on a flat surface) when the knee is driving upward to approximately 65 degrees of plantarflexion (toes down) at full extension. This foot movement against resistance both facilitates the mechanics of Running form and promotes joint stability and muscle strength as a result of overcoming the resistance caused by drag.

If you’re doing it right, your heart rate will be elevated, your legs will burn, and you can burn between 500-600 calories in an hour! If you have an interest in water running, here is a great water running training plan. And at Beginner Triathlete, there’s a really great VIDEO to see water running in action!

I know I’ll be hitting at least one run workout a week while water running!

Have you done any water running? 

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  • Melissa (@TheDailyMel)

    Great post, Christie! Given how much weight I still need to lose, I’m not comfortable yet trying to run on land again given my recent knee surgery. I definitely plan to give water running a try!

  • Caroline Calcote

    Great information! I have sadly just had to come to the conclusion that for now, my running days are behind me. I did three half-marathons last year, but developed IT band tendonitis resulting in severe hip pain. After multiple orthopedist appointments, oral and injectable steroids, four weeks of physical therapy and over six weeks completely off of running, as soon as I gave it a go again (slowly, short distances to start) my hip pain came right back worst than ever. I have a congenital defect in my hip, and I have finally admitted that if I want to be able to walk when I’m an old lady, I better give up running now. I love to bike and swim, though, and now I definitely want to give water running a try!

  • Nancy

    I hate running on ground, but I love jogging in the pool. It’s a totally different experience than running out of water. It is a great workout.

  • Sundi Jo Graham

    This is awesome! Thanks for sharing.

  • Christy_TheSistherhood

    I did water running when I was training for my first 1/2 marathon and got struck down by IT band syndrome. It saved my endurance, and I was able to get all better and finish the race!!!