Pool running doesn’t have to be relegated to the fate of the injured runner. No, no, aqua jogging is a great opportunity to pull on your flowered swim cap and get in a workout that’s low impact, high on strength and working your cardiovascular system.
This is not my grandma’s aqua aerobics class, though the words aqua jogging certainly conjure it.
Pool running actually comes in a few different forms:
- Underwater treadmill (unfortunately few of us have that access)
- Deep water running with a belt
- Running back and forth in the shallow end
Let’s dive in to the why, the how of each and some workouts to make it worth your time.
And yes to be clear you’ll often hear a lot of terms used interchangeably, none mean anything more or different than others (unlike when I normally say we’re runners, not joggers) – aqua running, aqua jogging, pool running, deep water running, water running and on the list goes.
Is Aqua Jogging as Good as Running?
Deep water running is harder than going out for an easy run, especially when you’re using the correct form and motions, so don’t think you’re going to be losing fitness by hitting the pool.
If you’ve been relegated to the pool due to injury, know that a FEW DIFFERENT studies have compared those doing only pool running to those doing land runs and found no statistical difference in their performance over a 4-6 week time.
Benefits of pool running
In fact you’ll be gaining fitness in a few key ways:
- water resistance creates a strength workout
- upper body work will be increased over an outdoor run
- removing the impact of running, you can actually train more
- forcing you to engage the core for stabilization
- it’s a great active recovery day when you feel like you could run, but are someone who tends towards injury
While it can be used for a variety of workouts, which I’ll detail below it’s not optimal to train for short speed distance style races like the 1 mile or 5K. However, it’s a great option of good cross training for runners.
And of course for the injured runner, it’s a small step towards getting back outdoors to doing what you love. Time in the pool is a FANTASTIC way to maintain cardio endurance, work on form and keep building while the body recovers (especially from things like a stress fracture).
Does aqua jogging build muscle?
Every workout can help you to build muscle in the sense of making it stronger and more useful. But if you’re looking to truly put on muscle mass that is always going to be done with heavy weights and a good strength training routine.
Can Pool Running Make You Faster?
It absolutely can if you take the time to do it correctly, which is to say with good form and using the right workouts.
Just like when you’re on the roads, a few principles still apply”
- Stand up tall with shoulders back
- Arms should swing forward and back, never across the body
- You should aim for a cadence of 170-180
- Basically following the standard protocol of good running form
The last one is actually the hardest because of the water resistance, you’ll find yourself working more to drive the knee upward and keep that turn over going. But you don’t want to allow it to drop because that won’t help when you are back outside.
Pool Running Equipment
When it comes to aqua jogging, there are really only a couple of things that you need. Some depends on the type of pool running workouts you’d like to do.
I wish underwater treadmills were easily accessible, but unless you happen to have a PT near you with one that particular piece of equipment ranks up with there with the Alter G Anti-Gravity Treadmill on the $$$$ scale.
I mean I should start with the gear that gets the workout done, but knowing many of you without music or a running podcast, you’ll be so bored you get out of the pool as soon as you get in.
- Grab your Garmin 645 so you can control music from your watch
- Pop in the Jaybird Wireless
Pool Running Belt
The most essential item for your workouts in a good aqua jogging belt. Here are a few options:
- 48 inch active belt – I like the contour to help keep you vertical and support your back
- Adjustable amount of flotation belt – a nice way to decrease reliance on the belt over time once you have good form and workouts going
- Aqua jogger system – if you just want to go all in and get floatable weights right off the bat too
Waterproof HR Monitor
As you’ll see below this is actually pretty important because your effort level could be much different than you think.
- Many Garmin and Polar watches that you already use for running are designed to be multisport, which means you can wear them in the pool. Watches like the Garmin 945 will have built in tools for lap tracking, etc.
- Polar H9 chest strap will connect with almost any GPS watch and is waterproof.
Tether for Pool Running
If you have your own space and will be doing a lot of pool workouts in the shallow end and maybe even some swimming this swim tether is idea. It’s going to give you plenty of room to move and feel solid for long term usage.
The key is one that will strap to your waist. There area variety of tethers for the ankle and clearly that’s great for swimming, but not your runs.
Pool Running Workouts
Just like you can do a variety of fartleks or tempo workouts on land, you can keep things interesting in the pool with them as well. Many runners will be using it in place of an easy run day, in which case you’re simply aiming to stay under that max Low Heart Rate.
I like using that formula because it helps get runners out of their heads and focus on the EFFORT, not pace.
HOWEVER, THERE IS A BIG BUT here because in deep water aqua running it’s often harder to get your HR up, so you may need to really focus on effort
The pressure of the water, forces more blood to your heart, so it can’t beat as fast. Which means in deep water running, add 10-15 beats to the number you see on your HR monitor.
If you’ll be doing A LOT of pool running, I recommend the Fluid Running App.
It’s a great way to be lead through the workouts, knowing you are doing exactly the right amount of time and getting the most benefit. You’ll get a couple free workouts to test and then can see if you’d like more.
Reading this because you’re injured?
If aqua jogging still doesn’t appeal or you don’t have access a few other things to help:
- How to mentally comeback from an injury
- How to exercise with a knee injury
- Yoga for runners
- Mobility workouts for runners
Other ways to connect with Amanda
Instagram Daily Fun: RunToTheFinish
Facebook Community Chatter: RunToTheFinish