Why Your Next Run Should be in the Pool

Turn your miles to meters and just wait for the benefits that go beyond killer run-specific fitness.

From IRONMAN

By Holly Bennett
I’m not a coach. I’m not a personal trainer or a professional athlete. What I am is a relatively average age group athlete, here to tell you why your next run should be in the pool.

Without a doubt, water running is no substitute for the satisfaction of pounding out the miles on the road or trail. But for an injured runner who can’t withstand impact, logging laps in the pool is a lifeline to maintaining run-specific fitness. And for any runner—injured or not—water running has a number of lesser-known benefits that ramp up its appeal. I’ll tell you about these, but first, let me tell you a story.

Years ago, six weeks out from racing IRONMAN Canada, I injured my foot. It was a “high-heel injury”—totally unrelated to training, a direct result of walking on a cobbled street in too-tall shoes after tipping back a few margaritas. These things happen.

The penance for my playful night out was relegation of all my run workouts to the pool; I wasn’t allowed to foot strike on land until a few days before the race. So I sucked it up, strapped on an aqua-jogging belt, and ran. And ran. And ran. I completed every single session on my training schedule—even double runs and a three-hour long run—in the pool.

After six weeks of marathon training in the pool, my IRONMAN run flew by.

The night before the race, I talked to my coach Michellie Jones, who just so happens to be an IRONMAN world champion and Olympic medalist. (Jones is also now an IRONMAN Certified Coach.) My coach is an athlete whose lengthy career has weathered numerous injuries and countless hours of pool running. “I feel ready, I just wish I had been able to run,” I said. “But you have,” she replied. “Trust me.”

The next day, I clocked what was, at the time, my fastest of five IRONMAN marathons and an overall PR…

Read the full story including how water running is zero impact – yet mimics the real thing, how it helps your run form, how it helps your upper body strength, and many other benefits.