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I can’t exactly walk on water, but I’m getting awfully good
at running through it. You see, I’m babying a foot injury which prevents me
from logging any land miles whatsoever. Smack in the middle of training for
Ironman Canada (which takes place on August 29th), some combination of increased
mileage, travel-induced stress, poor recovery and wearing my gorgeous new heels
out on the town did a number on my foot and it’s temporarily out of commission.
I can stand and walk safely, but the impact of running would take this injury
past the point of no return. I’ve been ordered to run nothing but wet laps for
the next three weeks.
Have any of you tried pool running? Aside from the envy I
can’t help but feel toward the happy, healthy runners I see heading for my
favorite trails, I’m actually not that upset about my predicament. Sure, pool
running can be a bit mind-numbing – especially when one’s training calls for
long sessions such as my Ironman marathon prep. But according to the
testimonials many of my friends have shared, it can also be a surprisingly
adequate substitute for “real” running. Numerous are the stories of injured
runners who have rehabilitated in the pool, right up until race day, and
managed to turn in strong performances. Some athletes advise swapping a regular
run for a pool session once a week when training mileage increases. Once my
foot is properly healed, I may well follow that advice in an attempt to stave
off future injuries – at least until I make it through the demands of this
I’ve actually already noticed a few side benefits to my time
in the pool. My core muscles are embarrassingly weak – but while water running
I notice them working to help keep my body upright. Additionally, since my arms
are moving back and forth against the resistance of the water, they seem to be
a slight bit more toned. If I emerge from this three week period in the pool
with improved all over fitness, I might consider pool running on purpose for
the foreseeable future!
I’m curious to hear about any of your experiences with water
running – and your subsequent transition back to dry land training. If you’ve
never tried striding through the water, give it a go sometime. I’ve been using
a foam belt designed specifically for this purpose, which helps maintain a
vertical body position. Pool running is not as easy as it looks – and in fact,
it can be as challenging as the effort you’re willing to exert.