As a sports medicine podiatrist, I often encourage injured athletes to cross train and keep up their cardio fitness during their "rest period". Pool running can be very helpful, but is frowned on as extremely boring and down right tedious by most runners and triathletes alike.
I also had to enter the conversation in our series "The Journey to Texas Ironman" with a shout out to everyone who has a little ache or pain in their foot or, God forbid, a stress fracture, but still wants to join us at the starting line of the Texas Ironman in May. This was taken and liberally adapted from an article in the December 2010 issue of Triathlete magazine.
11 Reasons Pool Running Doesn't Suck
(Altered from Holly Bennett, please forgive me....she had 10, I added one and lots of commentary!)
- It gives the barefoot movement a whole new angle -- and spares the wear and tear on your running kicks. Better than a pair of Vibrams!
- You earn sympathetic looks from the lifeguards and fellow athletes!
- Until now you thought breaststroke was the slowest way you could possibly travel from one end of the pool to the other.
- Hello, six-pack! Water running recruits those pesky, oft-neglected core muscles. Even your arms will exhibit extra strengthening with the resistance of the water.
- If ever you long for a surrogate parent or grandparent, there are plenty of friendly, smiling faces in the therapeutic lap lane.
- From your vertical vantage point, you can observe, admire and critique the swim strokes of the nearby lap swimmers. Maybe you'll learn something. And sometimes, you will realize your stroke is not so bad!
- There are no rocks, stumps, curbs or other obstacles in the pool. You can even try running with your eyes closed. (Note: Resist the urge to fall asleep.)
- One rarely encounters rattlesnakes while pool running. Or any kind of creature commonly seen while we practice open-water swimming on Lake Grapevine. And it's not 60 degrees!
- If you hop in immediately following a bike session, you get to call it a "P-run."
- If you can mentally endure two hours of water running, your next Ironman marathon will feel short. I highly encourage a waterproof MP3 player. I could never even train for the Ironman swim without it.
- And of course, the most important reason pool running doesn't suck: Dr Crane won't completely bust you when she passes you on the trail when you are still supposed to be in the walking cast!
Bottom line, pool running really doesn't suck if you have the right attitude and tunes! Embrace the change and come out of the "rest period" that much stronger so you won't be carried off by the ambulance at the next event!