Older Athlete Conditioning With Water Running

As I approach the age of 78, with an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) stent graft and progressive peripheral arterial disease (PAD), preparation for the Florida Ironman in about nine months requires some careful conditioning prior to real training to avoid injury. For this I use, (a) lots of long walks, (b) treadmill runs for mastering really low impact style to reduce calf claudication, (c) weight training and elliptical in the gym, (d) progressively longer but easy bike rides, using the usual tricks to protect my AAA stent graft, including no aero bars for minimal hip flexion, (e) gradually longer easy swims, as I head toward three-weekly 5,000 yard training swims, and (f) my favorite for true boringness, and thus mental and whole body conditioning, water running.

The trick is to not use a float aid, apart from your hands. When you have trouble staying on top of the water, open your hands like “aerofoils.” For less support and more whole body and leg effort, close your hands into a soft fist, as you would in running, and if you really want a kick ass workout (not early conditioning), put your arms by your sides, and keep up a running form, not a water-polo “standing in the water” form.

I did a 30-minute water run after a short swim the other day, and it worked over my body and mind nicely. The real challenge is finding a pool with deep enough water, as you have to stay off the bottom.

That’s what I like to do before real training begins, anyway.


older athlete conditioning
Grey is muscle, white is fat, clear ring around the central white spot (bone marrow) is the femoral bone. Notice how the bone also decayed in the inactive person.

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.