I water ran for almost all of 2009 due to plantar fasciitis! Fortunately I was able to run the 6 weeks prior to IM Arizona in Nov, my first one. I also water ran before my 1st 70.3 (California) in March '09. Studies have shown that you can maintain your aerobic conditioning with water running for 8 weeks. Why not longer? Simply because they stopped the study after that. I believe it can help you for a much longer time period. It WORKS! So here is what I do:
- Wear a flotation belt around your stomach below the ribs. You can also do it around your waist or around your lower chest and under your arms. No need to overtighten it if it's around your chest; that will only restrict your breathing.
- I like to wear a t-shirt under the belt to avoid any possible rubbing spots. (Ok, I admit that it's also so I don't feel like a wussy. I usually choose my Gatorman 3 mile La Jolla Rough Water Swim finisher's shirt.)
- Run in water deep enough that you won't touch the bottom.
- Make sure you "run" upright or with a little forward lean, just like on dry land. But don't bend over at the waist. I try to make sure to push my hips forward slightly but this may be a personal thing because I need to do that for my dry land running form.
- Do workouts as written in your plan (except I'm not real sure how you can duplicate hill running!) If your training is listed in miles, convert to an appropriate amount of time instead. The number of laps or distance traveled in the pool has little or nothing to do with how much work you are doing. If you have sprints or strides or whatever, try to imitate them as best as you can.
- Do a warmup just like in running. Start with a slower, easier intensity for a few minutes before picking up the pace/intensity.
- The best way I've found to get my heartrate up is by stride rate and arm swing. After a warm up, I try to keep my stride rate at around 84-90 per minute (per leg). When I sprint, say doing 30 seconds on, 30 sec. recovery, I focus on intensity and increase the stride rate even more, to 100 or higher.
- Use your arms the way you would in running. I keep them moving straight and close to my body as I pump them. I only use my hands in a paddling-type position during a recovery effort when I've slowed my legs to recover from a sprint. Or sometimes during warm-up when I want to work my arm muscles.
- If possible, find a source of music to help pass the time. If you are going to be doing this for more than a few weeks I would suggest something from H20Audio or something comparable. If you're at a private or community pool where you can plug in an ipod player or radio, do that. And, if you're out in the sun, wear a hat.
- The 1st couple of times my skin felt a little funny doing this. I think it's because of tensing and relaxing of the muscles as they move in the water. Maybe it's like a vibration thing. It's only there while I do it. Don't know exactly how to describe it but it goes away.
If you are going to be doing water running for a few months and can afford to purchase a pair of these, I would. Since you don't have to be injured to include water run as a suppliment/compliment to your regular running, a pair of some specialized shoes might be a good option!