Pool running is one of the best workouts you can do without the stress on your musculature.
Are you fatigued? Do you need a day off or seeking an alternate way to get a great return on investment? Running in the pool will help you get some great results without the wear and tear on your body.
Running in water is a challenge. The water naturally creates resistance so it will easily get your heart rate up. I have used pool running workouts several times over the years and will be providing some examples below.
Also, getting in the deep end of the pool will force you to focus on proper running form. This form of workout is also called aqua jogging and is the closest option to land running.
It provides a great option to add to your training regiment. Keep in mind, most of your competition is not implementing this into their routine either.
That being said, I want to forewarn you that pool running is very boring. You can make things interesting by having some music playing while you're doing your workout though.
Running is extremely monotonous. Regardless, having some music playing nearby can help. Obviously, do what is best for you to keep yourself motivated.
Some runners could care less if they are in the pool for 2 hours if it will bring them closer to their goals. Others, understandably, will spend 10 minutes in the deep end and think, forget this.
Pool Running Workout Tips
You have many running workout options to choose from. You can do fartlek workouts, long runs, tempo runs and easy runs in the pool.
The first step is getting to the deep end of the pool. You can choose to use an aqua jogging belt which would make the workout much easier for you.
Secondly, you can choose to not use the aqua belt and make the workout much more difficult. The reason being is you have to propel your body in the pool to keep yourself afloat.
If you need a recovery day wearing the aqua jogging belt is definitely the better option. If you have an easy long run planned this is also a great choice.
Lastly, if your goal is either to swap out a speed or tempo run and want to keep the workout aggressive choose pool running.
There are several deep running water workout options to choose from.
Below are a few that I would recommend. Again, this all depends on your goals, race distance and long-term plan.
Warm up with a few slow laps of the pool. Once you are warmed up, go to the deep end of the pool. These are examples of the same fartlek workouts I have done in the past.
Again, it is no different than land running. Everything is based on time and effort. I wouldn't focus on wearing a heart rate monitor for these workouts.
- 20×1 minute hard followed by 1 minute easy – total of 40 minutes in the deep end.
Of course, this type of workout is not etched in stone. Additionally, there is no need to start pool running training until you are in descent shape.
You can start off pool jogging lightly without any stress or concern. It may be 5 minutes just starting off and later extend out to an hour or more.
Fartlek running is totally individual. You can change up the time and duration of your repetitions as you see fit.
You don't have run hard in the pool if you are early in your training program. This is good news. You can still go to the deep end of the pool and run very easy with a flotation device.
Cut Down Workouts
2. 5 minutes, 4 minutes, 3 minutes, 2 minutes, 1 minute
There is equal rest between each set of harder efforts. So, 5 minutes hard followed by 5 minutes easy, 4 minutes hard, 4 minutes easy and so on.
These cut down workouts can be shorter or longer in duration such as:
3 minutes, 2 minutes, 1 minute at a moderate effort
45 seconds, 35 seconds, 25 seconds, 15 seconds hard
Additionally, you can add sets to these types of workouts the fitter you get.
This would be a lot of time in the pool so try the workouts first with the aqua jogging belt.
As you get fitter you can take off the belt and you'll notice the drastic difference pool running without the belt.
These can be anywhere from 20 minutes for beginners to over an hour and a half for fitter athletes.
I am advocate of faster long runs but not every weekend. We all have specific running goals most of which pertain to goal times. So, the goal is to focus on getting that goal pace to feel easier.
That being said, you can choose to do a long, harder run or a relaxed, easier long run. Both have their own focus and purpose in training.
These workouts are great for all-out efforts and last a few seconds to a few minutes.
Examples of pool sprints would be:
- 10×30 seconds hard, 5 minutes easy, 10x20seconds hard
- 20×20 seconds hard, 2 minutes easy, 5x2minutes moderate, 5x20seconds hard
- 20x1minute all out with full recovery between sets
Focus On Your Aqua Jogging Technigue
Remember, focus on proper form when running in the pool. You'll quickly learn when trying this for the first time how much this plays a part.
The resistance of the water will force you to use all your muscle groups just like land running.
The reason why pool running is such a powerful workout is you have to run and focus on form to stay afloat.
Obvious, it is much easier to pool run with the aqua jogging belt than without it.
I highly recommend wearing one when initially starting off doing pool workouts.
Ironman did a great write on why your next workout should be in the pool.
I thought they gave some great ideas and suggestions you can add to your tool kit.
Benefits of Aqua Jogging
The many benefits of pool running or as most people call it aqua jogging is there is no impact stress on your body.
It is definitely challenging and offers athletes an alternative to getting off the track and roads.
Also, if the weather outside is not cooperative working out in the pool is your next best option.
Of course, treadmill running is also available to you as well.
Pool running provides the same physiological adaptations that land running produces.
The best distance runners in the world utilize pool running. It is one of the best injury prevention alternatives out there.
If you feel like a part of your body is tight or hurts such as calves, hamstrings or tendons don't continue running.
That being said, you can run in the pool in the deep end. No impact on those questionable areas is the key.
How To Make Deep Water Running Less Boring
Have some music playing in the background if you can. Pool running is not very easy to say the least. Anyone who has run in the deep end of the pool knows this.
You are stuck on one location sometimes for a long period of time. That being said, you can still mix things up.
Bring some friends with you and do a group pool run together. Pool running for some may sound about as fun as watching paint dry but can still be enjoyable.
You will definitely get a sense of accomplishment after you are done with the workout. Remember, all of the benefits of hard as well as easy running comes in the rest.
Focus on time and getting through the workout just as if you were running on land. Lastly, take along a tennis or football with you and throw them with friends as you are running.
Use your imagination with this. Think of other ways to make pool running as easy as you can. Personally, I just like having some music playing in the background.
This is sufficient for me. I have also just got into the deep end in the past and just focused on the workout itself.
Hopefully this post on pool running has been beneficial and given you some ideas.
Aqua running is one of the best alternatives to land running there is. Often times, it is equal to or much harder than running outside without the impact stress.
If you are injured and still want to get that necessary workout in then running in the pool is your best bet.