Despite what you may have been led to believe, aqua jogging isn’t just for injured runners. On the contrary, if done correctly, it can improve the form, posture and strength of healthy runners. If you’ve been struggling through running in the summer heat, aqua jogging may provide the perfect respite from the sun and add some much-needed resistance training to your current regimen.
Aqua jogging can be done in either a pool or the ocean and is most effective in deep water, though some specific drills can be done in shallow water. Though not optimal for long-distance training, it is the perfect place for short, intense intervals.
“Water running was originally designed for injured runners for cross-training, replicating the running workouts,” explains world-ranked and All-American track athlete Tina Klein, a coach and founder of Balanced Running. “It should be done in the deepest part of the pool, as it creates natural resistance while running in the water and provides you the ability to mimic your running mechanics as you would on the road/track/trails.”
When it comes to necessary gear, aqua jogging actually requires very little. Athletes will want an active swimsuit, goggles and — for beginners — a waist buoy (also known as a water running belt) to make staying afloat easier. Should you wish to run in shoes, Klein advises against water shoes that will get heavy and recommends an old pair of running shoes, preferably in the lightweight racing category.
Of course, injured runners benefit from aqua jogging because it eliminates stress on the joints to help injured athletes build strength in recovery. However, everyday runners can benefit thanks to the resistance provided by the water.
“We use aqua jogging to correct running form and technique because the resistance of the water, makes it harder to swing your arms,” reveals Raul Torres, a coach, race director and the director of multi-sport store and training center BOCA Hawaii. “Also, the coach can be next to the athlete all the time to make sure that the posture is correct and runners are staying tall with good rhythm and so on. You want your legs to move up and down and always be leaning forward, just like you are running on the road.”
In addition, in the summer months, aqua jogging can reduce the risk of dehydration and heat-related illness that comes with prolonged heat exposure. Reducing mileage and hitting the pool or ocean for a weekly cross-training aqua jogging session can be a great alternative during periods of intense heat and humidity. Of course, athletes should continue to drink water and fuel properly even when exercising in the water, but there is much more control over regulating body temperature in the water.
“If you love the water, it puts less impact on your body and you get a great overall workout,” adds Klein. “This allows you to build strength and endurance, and you’ll find that you’ll actually run for time, not necessarily for mileage.”
READ MORE > SHOULD EVERY RUNNER BE DEEP WATER RUNNING
Torres leads weekly ocean running sessions in Honolulu and Klein recommends aqua jogging to her athletes regularly. Both coaches offer their suggestions for aqua jogging workouts for beginners to get started and incorporate aqua jogging into their regular training program.
Water Intervals from Coach Torres
- 10-minute jogging warmup
- 30 reps of water crunches (bring legs upward toward chest and extend straight, repeat)
- 10 x 1 minute of quick intervals with 30 seconds of rest between each interval
- 10 x 30 seconds of quick intervals with 30 seconds of rest between each interval
- 30 reps of water crunches
- 10-minute jogging cooldown
Effort-Based Water Running Workout from Coach Klein
- 10-minute easy warmup run in the water
- 1 minute of medium-tempo effort (i.e., 80%)
- 1 minute of running hard/sprint at your max effort (i.e., 95%)
- 30 seconds running with hands in the air (keep moving your legs in running motion while keeping your hands above your head)
- 1 minute of rest
- Repeat 5 times
- 10-minute water running cooldown
GEAR UP FOR YOUR NEXT RUN