Here it is, fall! Marathon season for a lot of endurance junkies is upon us. Sure, there are a few Ironman races left (Kona) and outlier triathlons, but for the majority of us in states that experience a change in season, fall means a transition from triathlons to running.
Some see it as a welcomed refocus, others see entering a marathon as a carrot to keep running through the fall and winter months. Whatever your reason, be careful of the injury bug. Marathon training and loading up on running miles will amplify any deficiencies your running form has and will lead to a faster deterioration of biomechanics and lead to “taking time off to recover”.
If taking time off isn’t in your vocabulary, you might look at alternatives to keep fitness up while your body recovers in time to make that marathon. Often times, the pool is the ticket. If you have never had a run in the pool, from first-hand experience, it can be mind numbing. The scenery really doesn’t change and it’s just not the same sensation and suffering at road running.
If you are relegated to the deep end, consider these top 10 tips to keep on the straight line.
1. Bring something to listen to. Grab your H2O audio and bring the iPod. It’s going to be a long day and if your pool is anything like the normal gym warm therapy pool, kids and inappropriate adults will be aplenty. If H2O is a little high priced for you, consider a plastic baggie taped around your iPod and stuck in a swim cap. Don’t submerge it, but it will work in a pink if you keep your head above water.
2. Wear something to protect your toes. Water shoes; bring them if you have them. Old tennis shoes, wash them off and bring them. Nothing is worse than being injured than being injured with tore up toes from scraping the pool floor.
3. Find a deep pool. The deeper the better. It will help simulate running if you can barely touch to use the pool floor to help and reduces impact, which is the main reason of doing pool runs while injured.
4. Have patience. You will probably see obnoxious kids, adults with questionable decorum and depending on the time, a generally full pool. Find your inner peace and work it.
5. Keep your form. Don’t think just because you are in the pool that you can just let your arm movements go to pot. Keep your form, even though you will have to work harder to do it under water. It defeats the purpose if you’re nursing an injury and ruin your form.
6. Don’t float. Don’t bring floaties unless you are heading to the kiddie pool. If you’re going to go through the agony of a pool run, come to work. Don’t rob yourself of the full benefit of the workout by making it easier.
7. Heart rate is hard to measure. Unless you have a polar heart rate strap with the proper software, you won’t be getting much heart rate data as most straps don’t work in water. Learn to read your perceived rate of exertion to gage how hard you are working. If you’re not getting the heart rate up, it may not be as effective keeping your fitness up while you are off of your feet.
8. Jammers work in a pink. Running in water causes less friction, so your ordinary jammers will work for a pool run. You might wear them out faster, but don’t fret that you need to go out and buy more gear to get your pool run in.
9. Stretch like you mean it. Just because a water run might have less impact doesn’t mean you get a vacation from stretching. You older triathletes out there can attest that stretching becomes more and more important after years of beating on the body. Allow for the 10 to 15 pre and post-workout stretch.
10. Don’t be fooled, it’s still a workout. If you bring it, fitness will come. If you put the work in, you won’t come out feeling the pounding from a 2 run on pavement, but your legs should feel like lead. You will be fatigued in places you didn’t think about while your joints recover. You will work your arms harder, your uplift effort on the legs will be harder and you will get worked.
So, if you have a sickness and the only prescription is pool running, heed these tips to avoid going insane in the pool.
Ryan Falkenrath writes the blog falkeetriathlon.blogspot.com, married father of two young kids, owner of two dogs and trying to balance life, work and multisport. Ryan has participated in multisport events since 2001 from 5k's to Half Ironmans. Ryan is also the Kansas City Endurance Sports Examiner and you can read more of his triathlon thoughts HERE and he collects race reviews at www.Triathlon-Reviews.blogspot.com. Contact Ryan at: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on @TriJayhawkRyan.