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Lessons in Pool Running

Don’t ever let anyone tell you pool running is easy. Because it’s not.

I did my first session of deep-water running last night at Wilson — well, to be fair, I’d attempted it once or twice when recovering from injuries in high school — and I quickly learned that it is not a joke. It’s hard work, and you can definitely feel it in almost every leg muscle. Apparently you don’t need to pound the pavement to get a good workout.


To run in the water, you need a deep pool (so you can’t touch the bottom) and a flotation belt (optional if you’re good at it). There’s some debate over exactly how to run — do you lean forward so you move through the water, or is it better to be upright and stay in one place — but to me it feels natural to actually run laps. I think as long as you feel like you’re doing a running workout, you can be a little bit more relaxed about form.

In doing some pre-workout research, I also learned that slow, casual jogging won’t do much for your fitness level — which, given the lack of technique work, is the whole purpose of these sessions — so it’s particularly important to do intervals and up the intensity. It also helps with the boredom. Here’s what I did:

5 min easy warmup

6 x [2:30 hard, :30 easy]

5 min cooldown

Total: 28 minutes

I have no idea how many “laps” I did because I was running in small circles around the old ladies doing water aerobics. And apparently there’s some debate over how you translate running in the water to running on the road — do you just consider total time, or do you convert into distance based on average pace? Anyone out there have any ideas?

In summary, I liked this. A lot. It looks kinda ridiculous, sure, especially when you’ve got fast swimmers in the lane next to you, but it’s a good workout and definitely something I’ll incorporate even when I get back on the road as an injury prevention method. Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.



6 thoughts on “Lessons in Pool Running

  1. Another convert! Even when not injured, I pool run with my teammates 2-3x per week. It’s a great way to ramp up the miles without all of the impact.

    I’ve recently ditched the belt but it took me a while to get to that without drowning. As for time, I usually go on effort billing an easy pool run at 10min/mi and so on. Of course, I haven’t applied this to my intervals, which for the sake of math and making sure I get a hard workout, I just do at an 8min/mi equivalent even though I’m working way harder than that. So my 10 x 800 yesterday was 10 x 4min on, 2min off, even though those are not the times I’d run at the track. In other words, I make my own rules but it’s working for me so I’ll stick with it!

    Posted by amy | February 23, 2011, 9:57 AM
  2. I’ve only been once- but I’m with you, it’s actually a totally kick ass workout. I never thought I would see the day I’d say that! I’d be all about trying some intervals at Wilson some time!

    Posted by Emily | February 23, 2011, 10:13 AM
  3. Yes, pool running is AWESOME! And what Amy said about pace/distance. Its more about effort and then converting it into miles jsut to track what you’re actually doing.

    You are welcome to join our group whenever you want! We had 7 aquajoggers in our lane this morning at WL!

    Posted by Beth | February 23, 2011, 12:01 PM
  4. welcome to the dark side! wohahahaha!

    Posted by katie | February 23, 2011, 12:47 PM

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