Thursday, September 8, 2011

Stuff that is NOT useful for pool-running

Due to this being nominally a pool-running blog, I have quite a few posts dedicated to things that are useful for pool-running.  However, there are quite a few things out there that are NOT necessary, IMHO.

  • Waterproof earphones  As I've noted previously, a waterproofed iPod is fantastic for pool-running.  It may just be your best friend.  But there's no need to waste $30+ on waterproof headphones for pool-running.  I've tried both waterproof headphones and ultracheap normal headphones.  The sound quality is the same in both (mediocre), and the waterproof headphones have not lasted any longer.  Save your money.
  • Water shoes  Every once in a while, I'll speak to someone who will recommend water shoes for pool-running.  They've never been able to explain exactly how the shoes help, other than keeping your feet from being abraded when they make contact with the pool floor.   Since you're in deep water, the time your bare feet spend touching the concrete is limited to pool entry/exit, plus crossing the deck.  No need here.
  • Water ankle weights  The theory here is that by using these weights, you increase the resistance against your feet and up the intensity of your workout.  Makes sense in a way.  Except for the fact that pool-running tends to overemphasize the hip flexors and underemphasize the glutes, as opposed to land running.  And weights are just going to amplify that discrepancy, making your pool-running less like land-running.  Skip the weights, and just move your legs faster to increase intensity.
  • Water barbells  These are essentially dumbbells made of foam; by holding them in your hands to float, you increase the intensity of your workout, and also work on upper body strength.  Some people are big fans of them, because they increase intensity and make pool-running a full body workout.  The latter point is exactly my issue with these.  I want my pool-running to mimic land running as much as possible -- if I want increased intensity and upper body strength, I'll just swim instead.  Additionally, I think there's a risk that these encourage overuse of the upper body while running.  One of the things I'm always trying to work on is keeping my upper body as relaxed as possible while running; these dumbbells strike me as counterproductive and promoting bad running form.  (I'll note that many people disagree with me here.)
  • Wall timer or watch  In all fairness, it's really easier to do interval workouts when you have access to something that shows time to the second.  And I LOVE my Garmin 310xt.  But a timer isn't essential.  If you don't have one, simply structure your interval workout by distance instead -- i.e. 20 laps is a tempo, or an interval is one and a half laps, with the recovery being the remaining half lap.  It really works quite well, as long as you take care not to "cheat" and cover the distance too quickly by doggie-paddling instead of pool-running.
  • Noodles  Noodles are big with the aqua aerobics crowd.  I don't really see how a pool-runner would ever need such, though.  Of course, they are quite useful during the swim portion of a triathlon, so don't discount them for that purpose...


  1. I always thought Noodles were supposed to be kids' toys. Definitely not an exercise aid! Someone actually asked me today if I was using the barbells because I was huffing and puffing so much. But I agree with you-- it's a legs workout! Nice post.

  2. Love how this blog is truly the ultimate pool running go-to on the entire net. Excellent niche, my friend.

  3. NOODLES! I can't believe people actually use these things!

  4. HA! Is it seriously legal to use a noodle in a tri or was this swimmer DQ'd?