The Impact of Aquatics on Distance Running Webinar On-Demand
Last month, we hosted a webinar titled, “The Impact of Aquatics on Distance Running.” In this webinar, Pete Julian, Assistant Coach of the Oregon Project Running Team, presented the various ways that he and the coaching staff use water in their athletes’ regular training programs.
The Oregon Project was created as a way to get Americans back on the podium in distance running. The Oregon Project is made up of Olympians and elite athletes such as Mo Farah, Galen Rupp, Shannon Rowbury, Matthew Centrowitz and others. The Oregon Project is located at Nike World headquarters and has access to a HydroWorx 500 Series pool just down the street. When the team travels to high altitude camp in Park City, UT, they also have access to a HydroWorx 300 Series.
Pete and head coach Alberto Salazar believe in the impact that aquatics has on their running program and have used HydroWorx underwater treadmill training to make their athletes better and stronger.
In the webinar, Pete outlines the three components of a successful training program:
- Biomechanic improvement – Good mechanics really start in the water. They stress doing the right things in the pool which gives the athletes the strength to convert it to the track. Running underwater helps to improve knee drive because of the strength needed to drive through the resistance of the water, and running against the jets improves posture.
- Rehabilitation and injury prevention – The Oregon Project has a good track record of keeping athletes healthy, but injuries happen. They have a very specific process to handle any small onset of pain. If an athlete is unable to continue dry land workouts, they are sent to the pool for continued easy running which helps to provide additional feedback to medical staff for diagnosis. Pete discussed an amazing case study of an athlete that had a lateral femoral stress fracture diagnosed in February, and with focused pool training, he came back and won the 5K at the Oregon Relays in mid-April.
- Increased fitness – The heart and lungs can handle higher aerobic volume than the body can handle because of the impact when running outside. The more aerobic strength increases, the better the runner becomes. The Oregon Project runners are able to add 10-20% training volume using the pool without risking impact on joints. Additionally, the HydroWorx is great for supplemental strength work because everything done in the pool is purely functional work. It is different strength training that you can’t get in weight room alone because it is very applied work that transfers straight to the track.
“If an athlete is hurt or can’t be outside, there is nothing better you can do than being in the HydroWorx. And the athlete is really still accomplishing a lot of great fitness. Once they’re healthy, they’re really able to go straight into the hard stuff.” – Pete Julian
Pete shared multiple videos of different athletes and their running mechanics in the pool. He also answered questions as they arose throughout the presentation. Here are a couple samples:
1. What jet resistance do you use to replicate the 3% lean posture?
We use as much as possible, depending on the athlete. New athletes often start with 0% jets to get their posture correct. As they get stronger, we slowly increase jets. Most athletes are at full jets even for easy runs, and then just decrease the belt speed. We put the jets on enough that they aren’t getting pushed back in pool and that they can have proper mechanics.
2. Do you ever work on individual mechanics in the pool?
Yes, every athlete has an individual thing they need to work on, so we choose what to focus on first and concentrate on that mechanic in the pool (i.e. arm motion). And even seasoned athletes need to constantly focus on any new imbalances that occur and work on them in the pool and on land.