Friday, November 26, 2010

Tricks of pool running

So, I'm now entering my fourth week of a pool running only existence, and third week of 80-90 "miles" in the pool -- roughly 13-14 hours per week.  That's a lot of time doing something that's pretty tedious, and I've learned some tricks to make it a bit easier.
  • Waterproof Ipod Case.  This is essential.   I use my iPod Nano, and this case.   With this as my trusty pool-running partner, my "runs" become an opportunity to catch up on podcasts.  I'm particularly fond of This American Life, as well as running-related podcasts like Endurance Planet and some of the podcasts that Julie T has done (I've listened to the Houston Hopefuls podcast a few times).  I also crank up the music for my intervals, or catch up on the local radio news via the Nano's radio.
  • Logs.   I've concocted a formula for converting pool running to land running, and I log my workouts as both time and mileage.  Yes, it's a white lie -- pool running ain't running.  But anything that keeps me motivated and feeling like I am progressing is a good thing.
  • Multiple pools.  I'm fortunate that I have four different indoor pools within easy driving distance (heck, one is within air-cast hobbling distance).  I try not to run at the same pool more than 3 times in a row -- I find that a different set of walls to stare at can be amazingly refreshing.
  • Friends.  Pool-running buddies are the best.  A 90 minute "run" with a friend goes by twice as fast as a 90 minute solo venture, iPod Nano or no.   Friends are so helpful that I will go a fair bit out of my way if it means I have company (and I'm normally a pretty solitary person, who has happily done 20 mile runs solo without music).
  • Intervals.  Doing a workout that shifts between hard and easy segments is much easily, mentally, than a constant slog.  For this reason, I'll toss in occasional segments of high intensity into my longer "easy runs" -- it gives me something to simultaneously dread and look forward to.
  • Form drills.  During my "easy runs", I add in segments of 5-10 minutes where I hold my arms in a loop in front of my body with hands clasped, or tuck my thumbs into the running belt (so I look like an underwater chicken).  It looks even stupider than normal pool running, but it forces me to engage my abs and push off with both legs equally, lest I start circling.  And mixing in these segments makes the times go faster.
  • Other activity in the pool.  One pool has a synchronized swimming program for kids -- it's a real treat when this is going on, as I can watch how they train (it's a pretty demanding sport, from what I can see).  The one downside is that I'm getting really sick of the music they use for their routine, though probably not as sick of it as they are. 
  • Vaseline.  Coated on one's face prior to pool entry.  Makes a huge difference in avoiding the sandpaper feel of one's face after a pool long run.


  1. Congrats on the new blog! You have my complete admiration for putting in such serious time and effort for such a sucky activity. Can't wait till this is history for you and you're back to being the fast running chica you are.

  2. You are a pool running rockstar! I love the blog!

  3. Great blog! I love your attitude about this injury and that you are keeping positive and determined to stay fit. You're really lucky that you have access to different pools. And that Vaseline thing is an interesting tip.

  4. I'd like to know your formula for converting pool running to land running. My running log is going nuts. Any help?