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Deep Water Running

Stress free extra miles that will make you run faster

Deep water Running (DWR) – Is a great way the improve your run strength and speed without the normal wear and tear associated with longer / harder miles. I have used it to great success personally at a professional level. I ran a 2.50 marathon at the end of my first Ironman on 60-70 road km a week and a further 2.5hrs a week DWR – running on the days I did not run normally but got the benefits of running about 14 road km to every 40min of time in the water plus doing this at a low heart rate and getting the gentle stretch associated by going through the range of motion and getting the core and specific run muscles – in hamstrings and hip flexors strong and in condition for fast and strong running off the bike. A running injury saw the final 8 weeks of my run mileage leading to Ironman Lanzarote (in Spain’s Canary Islands) in 1994 reduced the avg per week of 40km but thankfully I was able to run in the water every day I could not run due to the injury. The end result being 4th overall in one of the worlds toughest IM events with a marathon split of 3.00.09 – that’s 3hrs and 9 seconds.

I worked with Kate Major for her first 4 years in the sport and made DWR an integral part of her running regime. Her run steadily improved to being one of the best in the sport over the marathon and along the way took victories at IM USA at Lake Placid, New York, IM Arizona, a few top 3 places in IM Australia and a Podium at Hawaii Ironman. Quite a few of age group athletes I have worked with over the years have had great run results off the bike with the addition of DWR into their programs. The main obstacle is what I call the boredom factor (of carrying out DWR) and of course time and the need to add a DWR onto the start or finish of an existing swim to lessen extra trips to the pool. Of course there is not a need to add 2-3hrs a week as I did when I had the time and motivation to do so. Doing 2 x 30min DWR a week will add a further 15-20km worth of stress free run mileage to your week with the added benefits I have already spoken about. Good times to DWR – extend a long run – do the long run then do 30min DWR after (finish the long run at the pool). Do one the day after a hard run session of intervals or a long run. Do straight after a long ride – you get the benefits of running off the bike but get to stay cool and much less fluid loss from the system.

How to do it – find deep pool – no feet on the bottom. Some may not need a buoyancy belt (mostly those from swimming background with natural floatation). For most though a run vest to help floatation will allow you to concentrate on your form rather then worrying about keeping your head above water! The plan is to mimic your normal run form and style as closely as possible. Hold your arms and hands the same – don’t cup the hands or try to ‘paddle along’. You should aim to have a slight forward lean – without bending at the hips or running as though your half sitting. Your feet will be slightly pointed so forget about heel toe foot landing. Work on engaging your hip flexors to lift your knees and take a stride out front of you as you draw your leg/s back under you concentrate on engaging your hamstrings as these are the prime movers in getting your legs back underneath and behind you. Arm action is the same as you would have running on land – in time with the legs and balanced. You will move as you do it, so expect to get a few laps in during a 30min DWR. You may feel some fatigue in the quads on the bike at times post DWR but you will adapt to this over time. The benefits are great and the bottom line is that if you do at least twice a week for a minimum of 30min at a time for a few months your run times off the bike will improve.

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