There are plenty of different terrains that you might prefer on your morning run. Maybe you’re an asphalt runner, or you’re a fan of a sandy run on the beach. But no matter what your running terrain of choice, there’s one running spot that just about any runner can benefit from: the water.
Most runners have been introduced to water running as a form of recovery after receiving an injury. However, runners and non-runners should not assume that water exercise is only beneficial during injury rehabilitation. In fact, running and exercising in the water could be the secret to breaking your personal record. True fact.
Here’s the lowdown: water running requires the same muscles to function without the harsh consequences of gravity. It avoids the risk of injury associated with high mileage, which is why many runners run in the water while recovering from an injury.
“Aqua running is neuromuscular specific so it replicates running,” said Dean Herbert, an Arizona-based running coach, in an interview with Competitor Running. For Herbert, running while you’re in water is actually one of the best cross-training workouts that a person can achieve. “There is nothing better.”
So, now that you are, we imagine, ready to jump into water running for yourself, here’s how to go about it. For starters, there are two types of water running you can try yourself: shallow water running and deepwater running. Shallow water running consists of standing in waist-deep water while running across the bottom of the pool. Deepwater running, on the other hand, consists of standing in deep enough water so that your feet don’t touch the bottom of the pool. While both forms of water running work your body out in similar ways, shallow water running may make the most sense if you’re just starting out. And even once you have graduated to deepwater running, it helps to use a flotation belt or other flotation device at first until you’re totally comfortable doing it without the help of pushing off the floor.
Another thing to keep in mind when starting out is that while you’re running in the water, you should avoid leaning forward and remain as upright as possible, in the water. As for timing your workout, we say starting with five minutes of steady water running and gradually increasing the time of your workout is a good way to ease into it.