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A Water Running Workout
Water running, also called aqua jogging or water jogging, offers many health benefits for many people. According to Aquajogger water fitness products, more than 2.2 million Americans have started deep water jogging. These enthusiasts have discovered the benefits gained from exercising in the water. Aquajogging is used by professional athletes, seniors, the injured, overweight people and pregnant women. Water running is used as a means of exercise when other exercise options are simply not possible. When injuries, excess weight, surgery, orthopedic conditions, back conditions, pregnancy or arthritis prevent people from getting the exercise they need, aquajogging and other water-based exercise is a viable solution.
For athletes, aqua jogging can be used as an alternative exercise for anyone looking to add miles to their current running program without adding the impact or stress of running on land. It can also serve as a backup plan for those cold, nasty days when you don’t feel like going outside or are tired of the treadmill. Aqua jogging can also be incorporated into an athlete’s training plan as a means of recovery after a tough workout. Kate Major, a top Ironman athlete, regularly used aqua jogging in her training. In addition to her running on land, she was quoted as saying, “I also do a couple of water runs a week. This helps, especially on high mileage weeks when you don’t want to go out and pound your feet all day. Water flows help my muscle tissue to recover.” Mary Decker-Slaney, an Olympic runner, used water a lot before setting a world record in the 2000 meters. She was in the pool for a month and completed only one land workout before the feat. Even sprinters like Carl Lewis used aquajogging in their training regimen.
Aqua jogging is also widely used by injured athletes as a form of rehabilitation. Many injuries prevent athletes from running on hard surfaces. Because the runner is suspended in the water and the feet do not touch the bottom of the pool, the exercise is considered shock-free. Most injuries require complete rest for adequate recovery. Injured athletes face the dilemma of losing fitness when recovering from injury. They may be impatient and decide to return to training too soon. However, with aqua jogging, an athlete can simulate land training in water. Most of these athletes can expect a faster return to their pre-injury state as a result of running water. With aquajogging you get all the effects and benefits of running without the stress on your bones, tendons and ligaments.
Just like people with injuries, people with disabilities such as arthritis, multiple sclerosis (MS) and others can greatly benefit from aquajogging or other water-based exercise. People with arthritis find it difficult and painful to move because of the stiffness in their joints. The water environment allows these joints to move more freely. MS is a devastating autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system. Aquajogging can help strengthen weakened muscles and improve balance and flexibility. It also helps increase overall stamina.
Aqua jogging is also beneficial both during pregnancy and after childbirth. Exercise is beneficial for both the woman and the fetus, because during exercise there is an increased supply of oxygen to the blood. However, some pregnant women find it difficult because they feel uncomfortable. The buoyancy of the water will provide a pleasant relief from excess body weight. These water workouts will not only help the mother get the necessary exercise, but also contribute to the health and development of the baby. Similar to injured athletes, those who stay active during pregnancy usually return to pre-pregnancy shape and fitness soon after the baby is born.
Like expectant mothers, exercising on land can be uncomfortable or even painful for people who are overweight or obese. Carrying extra weight can put extra pressure on your feet, hips and legs. Aqua jogging or other water exercises help relieve this stress and make exercise more comfortable because the body is buoyant and the exercise is not impactful. Water also provides the necessary resistance for muscle strength and development. In addition, aquajogging allows a person to get their heart rate and breathing rate to a reasonable level to promote blood circulation and a healthy heart.
Most pools will allow a person to aqua jog during lap swim hours. Many pools even create special lanes for water running and fitness. Some pools also allow aquajogging in the diving well areas as these are empty much of the time. Many pools also have special flotation vests or belts. It is generally recommended to use these belts to ensure proper running. Running without a vest or belt actually makes it very difficult to maintain good form for training. These vests or belts are made of buoyant foam and have an adjustable waist. The buoyancy belt should fit snugly so that your head and mouth remain above the water without tilting your head. The water level should reach shoulder height. A belt or vest will also help support your lower back to ensure proper posture while running.
Once the vest or belt is secured, head into the deep end of the pool to stay suspended in the water without your feet touching the bottom of the pool. Look straight ahead and not down. Make sure you don’t lean too far forward. Instead, focus on proper posture with only a slight forward bend. Mimic your running form on the ground. The toes should not be pointed, but relaxed and flexible as when running. Focus on maintaining a high rate of leg turnover by driving your knees as you would when running on the ground. Aim for a turnover rate of 76 to 80 cycles per minute (CPM). Due to water resistance, this would correspond to 88 to 90 cpm on land. Wave your arms like you would on land and keep them close to your body. Keep your hands closed. Don’t cover yourself or fly your arms, as this will tend to exaggerate upper body movements. Also avoid any swaying.
In aqua jogging, as in running on land, there are different exercise options. You should plan your training and goal for each training day in advance before you go to the pool. For example, you can incorporate intervals, drills, strength training, tempo or steady-state effort into your aqua jogging workouts. There should also be low-intensity sessions used for recovery or endurance work. Heart rate monitors can be used to measure your training. However, keep in mind that the buoyancy of the water will cause your heart rate to be 10 to 15 beats per minute lower than it would be on land at the same level of effort. In addition, warm-up and cool-down periods should be incorporated into exercise, as well as ground exercises. Start by trying a 30-minute session before moving on to a more advanced workout.
Go to one of the following workouts:
1. Steady state: 10 minutes of warm-up, then five to ten minutes of steady aqua yoga at 75-80% effort. This can be repeated three to four times, with a minute of easy jogging between each.
2. Pace: 10 minute warm up, then do 5 x 1 minute at 80-85% effort with 30 seconds of easy jogging between each. Then do 4 x 2 minutes at the same effort with 30 seconds of easy jogging between each five times. Finally, a final set of 3 x 3 minutes each at 80-85% effort with 30 seconds of easy jogging between each.
3. Intervals: warm up for 10 minutes, then try intervals of 10 x 2 minutes at 85% effort or 5 x 4 minutes at 75% effort. These should be followed by an easy run with equal recovery.
4. Strength: To build running strength, add a pair of shoes. Use either a clean old pair or shoes made specifically for water. Boots provide more durability. An elastic/lanyard (aquahitch) can also be attached to the back of the flotation belt and pool for added durability or where space is limited. This strap increases resistance by pulling you back as you try to move forward. There are also aqua hand weights on the market that can be used to increase resistance.
5. Exercise: Use a variety of exercise ranges to increase flexibility and stride length on land. Try running with a longer stride, higher knees, and play with your stride speed (how fast or slow your legs go).
Aquajogging can offer many benefits to many people. It can increase running and sports performance, help an injured person in rehabilitation, help with weight loss, improve the functioning of the handicapped, help expectant mothers and increase the quality of life. Make sure you get your doctor’s approval before starting aquajogging. The session should not last longer than 45 minutes. Have fun and be creative with your practice. Run with a partner or add music. Enjoy aquajogging!
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