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Pool Running- or at least Why I started Pool Running and about it

Posted Oct 26 2009 12:00am
Finally a (very long) blog dedicated to pool running. Stay Tuned, I will have a pool running video by Friday!

The reason I pool run is that I have some knee issues. Now, first some background on me
I’m a knee replacement candidate, have been since High School and was told I should have had it done when I was 16. Instead, my parents took the advice of one doctor who said I should have my knee scoped along with a lateral release (I had dislocated it 11 times already, just bad legs) and wait until I was in my 20’s before getting the knee replacement. I had one more knee scope in HS. I had another one in my mid-twenties, after going through some pretty bad diagnosis' with some pretty bad orthos, until I found great guidance from Dr. Raymond Thal in Reston, VA.

Part of Dr. Thal's guidance was finding a cross training activity, which unfortunately, I tried spinning for a little while, but then dropped that off and just concentrated on running.  When I turned 33, I decided to try the marathon.

I was training for my 5th marathon, which I hoped to be MCM in 2007. I wasn’t far into training when my knee really started giving me trouble, my good knee. I went to see Dr. Thal and he took some X-Rays and told me that my knees were forming bone spurs in the joint and that I was much closer now to knee replacement and really, really needed to stop running so much. I really needed to re-evaluate my running and training.

Since I had just started training with Capital Area Runners earlier that year, our coach had told me that he really felt that runners only needed to run 3 days a week, a long run, intervals and tempo. The other days were just easy and could easily be filled with cross-training. I remembered when I was in my 20’s, when I had my knee issue and when I had shin splints, I got an aqua belt and pool ran. Never for long, but just enough to keep moving, and that I really enjoyed it. I decided to do some research and found some good articles on deep water pool running, but mainly they were geared towards being injured and not using it as a cross-training reference.  See my pool running video for my tips for pool running.

Successes: I substituted one 6 mile run (an hour in the pool) and one 10 mile run (1 ½ hours in the pool) a week for the pool.

I ran the Disney Marathon in 2008 (I ran my long runs on the road and I was already signed up for it when the Doc gave me the news) and still was able to qualify for Boston. I think I would have PR’d the race, had I not had some GI problems and it wasn’t so hot and humid during the race (72 and 100% humidity). Two weeks before the marathon, I ran a 5k and PR’d it in 20:43 (previous PR was 21:20). I really felt the quick turnover in the pool made a difference. My knee got a little hurt in the marathon and it took me a little while to come back. (It was so humid in the race, my shoes were so soaked, that my insert moved in my shoe and I ran the last 10 miles with it twisted to the side, which I think is why my knee swelled so much.)

I decided to run Boston that April and I stuck with the pool running. The longest run I had after Disney was 11 miles, I just couldn’t quite get my mind around doing 20 mile runs, so I ran two 3 hour pool runs prior to Boston. I ran my fastest 10 miler (1:13:44) at Cherry Blossom just prior to Boston, but Boston was not a fast race, around mile 20 I realized that the pool will keep my endurance up, but my legs definitely felt the pounding.

After Boston, our running group started meeting for tempo runs. This interfered a bit with the days I had available to run in the pool, so I quit the pool and went back to 40 miles on the road. By August I was having some pinched nerve issues in my neck and had to take some time off from running. I went to the pool a little bit, but didn’t quite get the groove going. So that winter, I started running with my goldendoodle Dash and she got into her groove, started meeting the CAR group on Sundays and she would go 10 with us. She loves to run with the group, but she gets bored if it’s just me. So this spring it was too hot for her, so she’s been down to 2-4 miles and I haven’t quite been able to get her back up past that mileage mark so she can go run with her buddies again.

But I decided to get back in the pool this past spring and have been back to substituting two of my runs. It’s taken me a while to get the back the quick turnover I like, but I feel that I am finally there. I am running one 10 mile (1 ½ hours) and one 13 mile (2 hours) in the pool a week and have been getting in about 45-49 miles a week. Now that the orthotics are gone, I feel only a forward momentum.

Oh yeah, and I just turned 40 and I have not yet had the knee replacement I was told I would have by 25 nor am I in a wheelchair for not having it done, as I was also told by some of these doctors.
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