Deep Water Running: Practical Video and Instruction

author : BobbyMcgee
comments : 0

Use high and low cadence deep water running to improve your turnover, run-specific muscle endurance and functional running strength.

Get Flash to see this player.

Video Problems?

 Video Notes: 0:00 - 0:58 = Deep Water Style #1 (Fast, Compact)

                      0:59 - End  = Deep Water Style #2 (Slow, Extended)

 

Member Question:

I've been sidelined from running for a while now and have tried a few times to aquajog. I have read the performance article Shallow & Deep Water Running and talked to my coach a bit about it, but I can't seem to get into a comfortable position in the water (body lean) with the belt.

 

Also, my mechanics get all out of whack without an actual surface to both plant and push off. My stride is all over the place and inconsistent. Any attempt to maintain a cadence of 90 seems quite difficult. Any thoughts on this?

Answer:
Dear struggling Aqua Jogger,

I can commiserate – deep water running is a skill to be learned just like many others and can take a while to master. I have worked with athletes that have eventually become so skilled that they count their workouts in yards, like a swim workout & do not require a flotation device at all!

I am glad you inquired as this provides me with an opportunity to get into a little more detail on the practical application of deep water running.

You are in good company. When I went to film the video clips, a former Ironman winner was doing an extensive deep water running session just 3 lanes down from me!

I would also like to thank Mike Ricci for being my willing model. I know you are all well aware of his writing & excellent work with triathletes of all levels. He is a USAT certified level III coach of whom there are precious few in the country – check out his stuff at www.d3multisport.com

Deep Water Running Styles

When deciding on a deep-water running regime, the athlete has 2 styles from which to choose from:

  1. Do I want to maintain cardio-vascular running conditioning & develop/maintain correct neuromuscular firing speeds?

  2. Do I want to increase functional running strength & core run stability?

Style #1 (fast):

The range of movement is greatly reduced and much quicker, the cadence is up above 90 (counting one leg rotation/cycle per minute). This speedy compact movement creates less stress on the core support & leg muscles (as well as arms) and involves the heart & lungs more—in fact, while I was filming this, I inquired of Mike (the model) if this was his experience, and even in a 10 yard effort he clearly felt the different emphasis in the two techniques.

 

Style #2 (slow):

The motion in the water is somewhat slower (perhaps with a cadence of around 60) and there is a much greater range of motion, with the knee being lifted to parallel or even beyond in the front plus a long powerful drive rearward through the water. The arm action is also considerably larger. Overall the movement is more powerful (and requires more power) and larger. From the video clip one can clearly see the difference in the 2 motions.

 

Example Cycle using Fast Style #1

 

        

 

         

 

What are your limiters?

Of course a combination of these two styles are useful when one is injured and little-to-no running is taking place. When DWR (deep water running) is being used as a supplemental activity, then the athlete needs to consider what their limiters are:

  • Do you wish to improve your turnover & run-specific muscle endurance to extend your current run “speed” capabilities over a longer distance? Then you need more of the fast style #1.
     

  • Are you strong but somewhat heavier & need more running, but are unable to deal with the accumulated impact stresses? Then you need more of the functional running strength, slow style #2. This is if you have high levels of cardiovascular (central system) fitness from the bike and swim.

Now to the specifics of your 2-part question:

“I can't seem to get into a comfortable position in the water (body lean) with the belt.”


As you can see from the clips and pics, Mike is clearly in a forward lean position set up by driving down and backwards with his legs from his hip. I also have him open his hands so that they can scythe through the water without too much resistance which would upset the balance and not be biomechanically correct.

 

He is slightly bent at the hips, which is fine in the water, but not on land. It could be that you are pawing at the water ahead of you instead of bringing you knee forward in a fully bent position and then pumping it down and back.

 

“My mechanics get all out of whack without an actual surface to both plant and push off. My stride is all over the place and inconsistent. And attempting to maintain a cadence of 90 seems quite difficult.”


The water is a great place to work on your mechanics—I have been working with Mike’s run mechanics for some time. He now has a magnificently high cadence and a great forward lean. But you will notice from the video that his shoulders are too square and do not rotate sufficiently. This leads to his arms being some ways away from his body and moving outwards, as well as a slight, but still too much of an opening of his elbow angle when he starts the rearward swing of his arms.

 

Also when he started this session I noticed that his legs were driving outwards and away from below his pelvis. One needs to concentrate on keeping the legs together and driving straight back and down.

 

The same goes for the arms, they need to be driven directly rearward with elbows bent 90° or less. This can only be done, as stated previously, if the shoulders rotate with the arm moving rearward and forward on the opposite side. Also, be sure to keep the hands moving on a path, that if extended, would move past the cheek on the same side, i.e. keep the hands clearly on either side of the center line formed by the sternum.

The overall concept is one of compact relaxation. Remember that the rearward thrust of the elbow is the power move as the knee comes up on the same side. The forward swing of the elbow is passive and serves only as a counter balance.

The greater resistance of the water exaggerates any non-linear form anomalies one might have and is a great place to work on these. Consequently the strength gained while performing the correct motion in the water is very valuable once the athlete gets back on land.

I just know that these guidelines will stem your frustration and have you gaining strength, speed & form in the water while you heal.

Best triathlon wishes,

Bobby McGee
Compete with Grace Gratitude & Guts
www.BobbyMcGee.com 

Article Downloads
Deep Water Running Video (200 downloads)

Rating

Click on star to vote
77723 Total Views  |  316 Views last 30 days  |  73 Views last 7 days
date: February 13, 2007

BobbyMcgee

Bobby McGee is an internationally acclaimed endurance coach who has produced an Olympic Champion, world champions and numerous world record holders. Through his coaching, lecturing and writing, he has become a much sought after figure in the world of human potential fulfillment.

avatarBobbyMcgee

Bobby McGee is an internationally acclaimed endurance coach who has produced an Olympic Champion, world champions and numerous world record holders. Through his coaching, lecturing and writing, he has become a much sought after figure in the world of human potential fulfillment.

View all 7 articles