With the warmer weather coming, (hopefully), adding a water based training to your running fitness can be advantageous and cooler! Swimming is an excellent cross-training activity for running because it’s not weight-bearing, so it gives your joints (which take a lot of stress when you’re running) a break. Let’s face it, running is a high impact activity. Every step has an impact on the whole body and this can, over time, take its toll. Adding swimming to your fitness plan allows for an intense cardio workout without the impact. Having these low impact workouts will provide more opportunity for rest which will allow you to not only run better on your run days, but run longer and more injury free over all. It allows you to build strength and endurance, and also improve flexibility. It’s a great balance for running because you’ll really work your upper body, while giving your leg muscles a breather. As previously discussed adding a little lifting to your workouts adds muscle, makes you stronger, and thus a better runner. Now think of being able to do resistance training for an hour or more straight without changing weights or messing with machines and working every muscle in your body. This is what swimming provides -consistent resistance training without the need of a weight room. Remember, weight training is good too, but swimming can be a great alternative. Swimming is especially recommended for people who are prone to running injuries or are recovering from an injury, for examle IT band syndrome. Some runners also find it very relaxing and meditative. With summer coming just take that workout to the lake!
If you have access to a pool, water running is a great alternative for injured runners or as a substitute for an easy running day. It’s also a smart way to get in your runs during hot and humid weather. While you can run in the water without flotation aids (vests, belts, etc), you’ll find the workout to be easier with them. This also adds a bit of resistance, and again, as mentioned previously this week how resistance training improves endurance and strength. If you’re getting over an injury, water running can allow you to recover without losing fitness. And if you’re not injured, water running is a great way to work on improving your running form and fitness without increasing the pounding on your joints from running on hard surfaces. There are flotation devices devised just for “aqua” jogging and in deep water, where your feet can’t touch the bottom, simulate running with your flotation device worn as instructed. Try to use the same good running form that you would when running on the ground or the treadmill. Don’t lean forward much or hunch over. Try to keep your body straight up in the water. Keep your shoulders back and your head and eyes looking toward the horizon. Try to simulate your normal running style. Don’t paddle with your hands. You should keep your fist loosely closed and let your legs move you forward. Deep water running takes some practice, but if you keep at it and work on your form, it’ll become easier and more enjoyable, especially on those hot days when you can do your run while staying cool!