by Sinead St. John Thornton
Fluid Running® Health & Fitness Editor, Certified Fluid Running® Instructor, RRCA-Certified Running Coach
Virtually Anyone Can Sprint.
That’s right. Sprint. Remember going at top speed? The exhilaration, the satisfaction at going all out? When was the last time you felt that and didn’t worry about falling, pulling a muscle, or making a fool out of yourself?
When you are in the deep water—safely suspended with a flotation belt that is tethered to a lane line for stability—you can safely do sprint intervals to max heart rate (with your physician’s approval, of course) AND you can stop on a dime.
Even better, you reap the extraordinary fitness benefits of sprinting: recruiting your anaerobic system AND your fast-twitch muscles; an increase in metabolism for 24-36 hours AFTER your workout (EPOC effect); an increase in production of “positive” hormones such as HGH, and a decrease in production of “negative” hormones such as cortisol.
So, you get all the documented benefits of HIIT (high intensity interval training) without the risks AND your recovery time in the water is lightning fast, since your heart rate drops rapidly and you are already immersed in a cooling, inflammation-reducing medium. So you can do more intervals in less time with greater recovery. Now, that’s a fitness hack!
You Feel Refreshed Afterwards.
Fluid Running® is the most intense workout of the week for many participants—including Ironman triathletes and track athletes. But, the combination of the constant, healing hydrostatic pressure of the water, the incorporation of full-body flexibility movements between intervals, and the lowered body temperature from the cool water prevent post-workout inflammation and soreness.
Many Fluid Running® participants take a quick dip in the hot tub or warmer pool immediately after their workout, and find this combination of cool water and warm/hot water virtually eliminates the DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). Most pools have adjacent hot tubs, or you can take a hot shower right after, and get the same effect without adding any time to your workout schedule.
Not low impact—but NO impact whatsoever—despite the fact that you are replicating the biomechanics of running, at varying intensities, from head to toe. Pretty amazing. The joints, bones, ligaments, and muscles do not have to work to recover as you would in a land run where the force generated with each step is two to three times your body weight . . . meaning a 150-pound runner is applying a force of 300-450 pounds or more with each footstrike on land!
And that’s just for running at an easy to medium pace—sprinting applies even greater force. So, you can increase both your distance and your speed while practically eliminating your risk of injury. Not only that, but you can do this workout while you are recovering from an injury and maintain or improve your fitness.
You Can Incorporate Visualization into Your Workout.
Because you are securely suspended in place, you can safely close your eyes at any time during the workout and visualize . . . a successful race scenario, reaching a fitness or athletic goal, being at your goal weight, etc.
One of the critical elements of visualization is relaxation—a relatively easy state to attain in the water. Because you can integrate a “visualization set” at any time during the workout, you don’t need to find additional time in your training schedule to get the powerful benefits of this technique.
In a famous study of Russian Olympians, the control group with the most visualization training—and the least physical training—had the greatest improvements in performance and this type of outcome has been replicated across a variety of sports and fitness levels. (Mental Training for Peak Performance, Steven Ungerleider, PhD.)
Jennifer Conroyd guides participants through visualization so they can reap the performance-enhancing benefits of the same powerful techniques used by elite athletes.
We’ll discuss more unique benefits relating to cardiac fitness, personal safety, anxiety, and sweating (!) in Part II . . .