The Essentials of Aqua-jogging
Aqua-jogging is often prescribed for runners who are recovering and rehabilitating from an injury. Aqua-jogging in deep water is a no impact exercise, while providing excellent cross-training and cardiovascular benefits. Aqua-jogging spares the body from the pounding of dry land runs, and helps maintain conditioning during injury recovery. Aqua-jogging (water at chin level) provides 12 times the resistance compared to dry land work. Exercises can mimic easy zone 2 runs, or harder tempo runs or intervals, with an increased heart rate. Most any run you can do on land, you can do in the water.
Aqua-jogging is relatively easy. You will need a flotation belt. Purchase on-line, or at most sporting goods stores. You won't need goggles or a swim cap. Wearing the belt will keep you floating in the deep end, feet not touching the ground. When you first start aqua-jogging for injury recovery, stay in deep water so that your feet do not touch the ground, and the exercise is completely no-impact. Relax. No tension in the body. Chin stays above water. Run as you would on dry land. Body erect, slight forward lean. Arms relaxed at your sides. Lift from the core. Aiming for 85-90 rpm, just as you would on dry land. Aqua-jogging requires great focus on form, which wil ultimately benefit your dry land runs. You will be surprised at how good a cardiovascular workout aqua-jogging is. Complete your prescribed workout, with a warm up before (lowering your cadence slows down your heart rate) and cool down after.
When you water run, you will move forward slowly. To stay in deep water, with your feet off the ground, your laps will likely be short. You can hook a tether to the flotation belt to keep you from moving forward, keeping you anchored in deep water. Deep water provides the most resistance and the least amout of impact. Running in shallower water will increase the impact on your body, while decreasing resistance. When recovering from injury, stay in the deep water. If your recovery allows shallow water running, you can wear water shoes to protect your feet and better grip the bottom of the pool.
Aqua-jogging sometimes gets a bad rep because it can be hard to stay motivated. Unless you can aqua-jog in the lake or ocean, it can feel tedious and a little boring. There are a few tactics to avoid the tedium. One, consider purchasing a waterproof MP3 player, or a waterproof iPod cover. If you are a swimmer, these devices can do double duty. Second, avoid looking at the clock too often. Time your intervals based on the number of songs you are listening to, or the number of "laps" you are completing. Third, visualize running outside. Re-live your favorite route or race. Let your mind be one with the effort and remember why you are pool running. Focus on your training goals.
Aqua-jogging can take place of regularly scheduled runs during training if fatigue or injury are an issue. Aqua-jogging is very good cross-training, as your body is working with resistance in all planes of motion. It can be varied from relatively easy to quite intense. It has a massaging effect on the muscles, which can increase waste removal. The cardiovascular training will help injured runners maintain fitness levels, and maintain the "run," with a non-impact environment.
Be Healty, Train Smart, Have Fun