Sadly I've been forced to spend more than my fair share of time in the pool running lately. While I can't say I've enjoyed it, it has given me plenty of time to contemplate aqua jogging. So here goes, four fundamentals for fantastic water running!
1. Form- Water running is such an effective form of cross training for running because it mimics the running motion so well. Therefore, if your water running looks nothing like your actual running, then you arent getting any benefit! When water running, make sure you keep your chest up, back straight, and butt in, just like you would when running. For some a belt like those seen here can help significantly but it is possible to maintain good form without one.
In addition to a straight upper body, it is also important to focus on what your legs are doing. Mainly, make sure really think about pushing off the ground with the bottom of your foot. This will help you activate your calves and prevent you from just moving your legs up and down.
2. Turnover- I was going to call this "stride rate" but do you really have a stride in the pool? Anyway, just as it is important to keep a good tempo out on the road, it is even more important to focus on stride rate in the pool. When aqua jogging it is very easy to let your tempo laps partially due to the extra resistance of the water but also because you dont have any external evidence to signal you have slowed down.
3. Visualization- This is related somewhat to the first point but goes a little further. Not only should you visualize yourself running in order to maintain correct form but also to help stave off boredom. I like to think about races or training runs, put myself out on the course, and really feel all of the elements of the external environment. This also provides an excellent opportunity to prepare for an upcoming race. Imagine yourself out on the course among your competitors See the images that stand out, feel the expected weather, and think about how you expect to feel at different parts on the course. All the while, of course, keeping your good form and tempo in mind. Sound like a lot to think about? Of course it is, but keeping your mind occupied will only help you get through the workout sooner.
4. Sweat!- Last but not least, try to work up a sweat. The ease of this will be highly dependent on the water temperature of your pool. (Incidentally, this is because the thermal conductivity of water is about 20 times that of air, meaning water dissipates your body heat much quicker than air. This is why a change of water temp of only a few degrees has a much larger impact than a change of the same amount of air temp.) If you aqua jogging at the local wellness center in 84F water while the old ladies are doing their water aerobics, working up a sweat wont be much of a problem. In this case, shoot for a "heavy" sweat. On the other hand, if you are working out in a "competition"style pool where the temp is closer to 80F, simply try to break a sweat. You can also wear a HRM to monitor effort but expect your HR "zones" to be about 10 bpm lower in the pool compared to actual running. This is due to the added cooling and decreased effect of gravity from the water.
Hopefully everyone out there will be able to keep running and wont have to use these pointers any time soon. However, if there are any other experienced aqua joggers who feel I've left something out, feel free to share some chime in!