Is Aqua Jogging any Good for “Real” Runners?

Aqua-jogging or aqua-running is the term used for running in a pool. It can be performed in two ways: feet touching and feet not touching. With the feet touching you will propel yourself across a pool pushing yourself with each stride. The feet not touching approach is done in deep water with a waist float that keeps you bouyant. You run in place. In either approach you can add upper body resistance training too.

Aqua-running is advocated as part of rehabilitation for injured runners. It is also ideal for cross training. So it can be integrated into a full-scale training program. It is running-specific which actually makes it better than all other forms of cross-training. It is also a good exercise during recovery periods such as post-marathons or long racing seasons. 

There are benefits and detractions to each approach.

  • Both give you relief from running on the hard surfaces (It’s excellent for shin splints, tendonitis, knee, fasciitis and many other lower leg ailments).
  • Both provide resistance workouts while doing running specific movements (you run against resistance of the water).
  • Excellent workouts can be completed in well under an hour. 
  • If you use the feet-touching approach no additional equipment is needed (ok, other than the pool).

However they also may not be the greatest cross-training for the following reasons.

  • You need a pool! (Ok, if you are creative you might be able to use your local pond.)
  • Public pool hours may not be year round or on days that you can make it.
  • Though it does strengthen your legs due to resistance it may also make your legs sluggish (it’s neuromuscular training)
  • It’s not as satisfying to some runners because you can’t quantify your mileage. ;-) 
  • It’s boring, boring, boring. (Not scientific… it’s my opinion.. some people love it)

So, does aqua-jogging benefit “real” runners or is it just a marketing and flavor-of-the-month workout? Aqua-jogging has been around quite awhile which is good because it has been studied. Researchers in various studies have found that it can “maintain conditioning for up to 8 weeks”. Since studies themselves don’t go on forever researchers cannot advocate beyond what their studies revealed. It is reasonable to extrapolate for everyday purposes that it indeed could be far longer. Integrated with traditional running workouts there is no reason to believe that it wouldn’t work long term.

Olympic level athletes have incorporated aqua-running into recovery & rehabilitation training. I have used it with numerous athletes myself and definitely conclude it will help almost any runner – injured or not. I had one runner who aqua-ran 3 times a week and run on land only once per week over a 2-3 months. We gradually increased runs on land and despite months of away from regular training she was able to race a 5k as fast as she did previous to the layoff. I have another previously injury prone runner who incorporates it into his regular weekly workouts. He has remained injury free for almost two years now.

Here’s how you do a workout. First and foremost it is not a steady state running motion that delivers optimal benefits. You also have to pay attention to your running form. Remember you are training your muscles to move in a specific manner. Though this may be part of your warm-up and cool-down (yes, you need to do that just like you would – or are supposed to do – on dry land) it is not referenced in the research. Interval like sessions are what works best. Any interval session you do at the track you can do in the water. Instead of distance go by time. adn instead of pace go by effort. One minute hard, thirty seconds easy repeated 20 times for a total of 30 minutes is a simple one. With your warm-up and cool-down you have a nifty 40 minute workout. Don’t be limited on your workouts. To keep variety and interest (the one thing that just slays me in aqua running) make your interval training more complex: ladder workouts (2-3 sets of intervals of :30, 1:00, 1:30, 2:00, 1:30, 1:00, :30); pyramid workouts (hard repeats starting at 15 seconds and increasing by 15 seconds on each rep with half as much recovery easy “jogging”; or reverse the sequence); very short very hard intervals (alternate every 10 or 15 seconds).

To fight boredom try to do workouts with a companion or even a group. It’ll be more fun and keep you occupied.

Your effort is your only true gauge since you cannot measure your distance covered. This is one case that your heart rate can be used to be sure you aren’t going too easy. Efforts on the hard intervals should reflect mile pace effort. Remember, since you are “running” against resistance your legs will not move as fast as on solid ground. Again, it is the effort you are gauging. If you were to do just a steady run effort all bets are off as far as benefits go. Aqua-running may help condition a completely non-conditioned person that way but not a reasonably trained athlete.

And if you are interested don’t miss updated information on aqua running here.

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About Dean Hebert

I’m a mental game coach, author and speaker. I work with individual athletes, parents, coaches, and teams on sports performance enhancement. Beyond my academic post-graduate work in sports psychology - the psychology behind athlete performance – I am a certified Mental Games Coaching Professional (MGCP) and certified hypnotherapist. I’ve authored several books and hundreds of articles. “Coach, I didn’t run because…” (2008) is a seriously light-hearted look at making excuses not to workout and how to overcome them. “Focus for Fitness” (2009) and “Screw the Goals Give me the Donut” (2010) are two of my eBooks on mental game approaches for the everyday athlete. I wrote these because I believe that everyone can benefit from the powerful mental techniques that the world’s best athletes use. I have been cited in Runners World, Best Health magazine (CN), SWEAT Magazine, and the Washington Examiner amongst many other publications. I have been a featured mental games coach in Runner’s World and for the internationally acclaimed trail running resource - trailrunningclub.com. I also regularly appear on sports and fitness talk shows such as LTKFitness, Runnersroundtable and for more than three years I have co-hosted a weekly video series with Coach Joe English for Running-Advice.com. I specialize in mental toughness training. My clients include tennis, synchronized swimming, golf, race-kart, soccer, motocross, volleyball, MMA, cycling (road, off-road, time-trialist), running, duathlon and triathlon, basketball, football and baseball athletes. I have coached world-class athletes and athletes internationally. I have a passion for working with youth athletes and helping them apply mental game skills and techniques to all areas of life. Most importantly, my aim is to have people enjoy sports and life to their fullest through peak performances.
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240 Responses to Is Aqua Jogging any Good for “Real” Runners?

  1. david says:

    If I hurt myself running, I’d rather just not do any sort of motion of running. I’d rather take a rest. If I’m going to get in a pool, I’m going to learn how to swim. I think that would be better than running in place in water.

  2. Well, I completely understand your point. All I can say is that you will lose conditioning with swimming (as far as being a runner is concerned) and you won’t with aqua-running. The neuromuscular-specific conditioning benefits from swimming to running are little to none. On the other hand, swimming is better than doing nothing at all while laying off running.

  3. farrah says:

    I have a stress fracture and am out of collegiate competition for a while so i have taken up aquarunning and i was just wondering if it is necessary to alternate with hard and easy days like you would land running.

  4. Great question. Since there isn’t the pounding you get on hard ground you can workout pretty hard but you do have to obey the principles of conditioning – You break down during workouts and build up during restdays – the hard-easy concept. Everyone is individual so experiment. At the same time, I would push more often aquarunning than the usual terra firma running. Use a variety in your workouts – different interval times; add some resistance work with your upper body while you’re at it. Of course cycling (doing interval nature workouts) is good also. You’re doing the right things… keep it up and drop me a line on your progress.

  5. farrah says:

    thank you! Also, I was just wondering, is it just wishful thinking or actually possible to get better from aquajogging, or will i just maintain fitness these few weeks and be the same speed and all that i was prior to my injury?

  6. The key to answering this question is really with more questions. What condition are you in to start? At elite levels, it’s doubtful to progress. However, at more novice levels you certainly can progress. As a collegiate runner if you do not usually do any type of quality work during the fall and instead do most of it during track season, then it is possbile gain some conditioning. What is interesting about the research is that it is limited to the time of the study – so they aren’t documenting what would occur if they continued or if they infused workouts with progressively more difficult intervals. I have several injury prone runners who I have doing aquarunning year round at least once a week in place of a terra firma running workout. They do great. One has set PRs from the mile to the ultra-marathon. So, I think the bottomline is this: the science supports this as a viable replacement or supplement to running and improving conditioning. As a college athlete you know what it is like to work very hard. Apply the same effort and intensity you would on the track… I think you will surprise yourself. You may lose a step do to the loss of the “feel” for running on the ground… but your return to pre-injury paces may be VERY short.

  7. I was searching around today to find some quality info on pool running when I came across your blog. I’ve since added it to my “Leaders of the Pack” blog list and will continue to peruse your site. I hope you don’t mind that I’ve references this blog for my post today. I just really agreed with the info you gave on the subject.

    Thank you for giving pool running it’s due respect. As a collegiate runner we incorporated it regularly into our weekly routine during specific times of each season. And of course used it when faced with the inevitable injury.

    You definitely get out of it what you put in…. and mentioning the heart rate monitoring as a way to gauge effort was appreciated.

    I’m currently nursing some left leg issues (hamstring and calf) and find not only benefit in pool running workouts but also find the pool an excellent place to stretch and just loosen up. Actually , my college coach would even have us go in the pool to walk around/ loosen up after a long run. Any insight on whether this actually does help as a recovery tool?

    Thanks again for this post/your input on this topic.

  8. Thanks for adding me to your site. I like your site… some very nice PRs.

    I wish I did have some concrete research based info on using it post long run recovery. However, I woudl say that it absolutely won’t hurt (unlike some other things) and it most likely will give subjective relief. But, probably much like a massage, there is scant data that supports it as a recovery tool. My advice – if it feels good and you believe it helps recovery – definitely do it!!!!!

    PS
    Ok, from now on I’ll call it “Pool Running”. And if I’m ever in NYC I’ll join your Wet’N’Wild Wednesdays!

  9. I could probably handle aqua running… since after thinking about it a bit more, I do recall a time in Tulum, Mexico where I went for a nice run in the Atlantic (which obviously can’t be labeled as a pool). I think it’s more or less the “jogging” that needs to go. Ha! :)

    Thanks for the feedback!

  10. Tom Carroll says:

    This is my third year of aquajogging – tethered and off the bottom – I am in for an hour + 20 minutes. I began because of Achilles tendonitis and haven’t looked back. I play racquetball and have rencently won my 4th “A” level club league that has many decent players of al ages. I am 66. I begin with a “sufing” arm motion, legs running, tilted back 45 degrees for warm-up. I go prone and do 100 circular arm rotations, I do 300 breaststroke and 1200 freestyle for a swim. I do the surfing thing and arm/shoulder rotations again. Then I do 1500 running strides, changing arm movements and angles for a varied upper body workout. You could use the clock but I prefer counting….the Rainman was my favorite movie. thanks…tc (ps…don’t drink anything 2 hours prior)

  11. Pingback: Stop running - Start deconditioning? « The Running World According to Dean

  12. Rick says:

    My question revolves around using pool running to increase and improve your aerobic base for young runners who are not mature enough to log a lot of land miles without additional risk of injury. For example my 14 yr. old son (bday is end of May) is logging up to 30 miles/week but we have capped his running at this level. He would do more work and wants to excel, can spending 1-2 sessions in the pool work to add to aerobic base?

    Also you mentioned something about steady state runs not being as beneficial in the pool. Don’t you need to still have a balanced training plan versus relying on alot of interval training? Maybe I misunderstood what you were saying.

  13. Rick,
    Good question.And congratulations on being smart about capping his mileage.

    First I believe it certainly won’t hurt to do the aqua-running and it may help somewhat in increasing his base. This is a strategy in fact that one Olympic coach uses in allowing his low mileage runners to slowly increase miles and become accustomed to more of a work load. However, there are no controlled studies to support either of these points. The only studies involving aqua-running are in relation to injury recovery – for which conditioning maintenance is well supported.

    Interval type training is the best way to use aqua running. Why? Due to the resistance in water, you are training your legs to go VERY slow. That is never what you want as a runner. This will have little to no effect on other workouts in my experience. Therefore, if you have a balanced program on ground you should continue to have a balanced program. This is a matter of doing cross-training effectively and it far less effective if it is done at a steady state.
    Coach Dean

  14. Sarah says:

    I am on my colleges xc and track team. My freshman year did not go to well with racing, i got hurt a lot and when i wasnt hurt i was sick. So my training was not very good. This year i have more consistant training, and was able to compete in cross country and partially in indoor. However, i have not gotten in good enough shape to compete at the level i want. I am maxing out this spring with 55 miles. (i got hurt in indoor when i went to 60 too quickly) I am at 50 this week. But i am finding myself really tired with the runs and workouts i have to do. Do you think exchanging aqua jogging with one run a week, and/or adding a session of aqua jogging on to a regular run day will help me not be as fatigued from running and in the end help me at all with my training? Also, is aqua jogging equivilant to running, can i add it into my total mileage in my running log each week?

  15. Sarah,
    These are really good questions. My first comment is that your experience going from HS running to college is very common. The demands of college – perhaps being away from home, miles of running, the season after season demands add up to new dimensions of coping not expereinced before.

    I am not a fan of running, x-c, then indoors then straight to outdoor track unless the indoor season is low-keyed. There is a cumulative effect that just beats most (not all) runners down. Injuries are the most common side-effect to this kind of mileage. I do not know your history of mileage/training prior to now but the 50 miles per week is hefty for a freshman in college.

    Given all that – first I would not add any more miles and instead get comfortable with what you have. The research is really quite definitive that at this point, WHAT you do with your miles is more important than your miles.

    Next, aqua-running is an excellent adjunct to a full training program. This is exactly how Deena Kastor went from 70 miles per week to now more than 100. It took several years. In the mean time, extra wrokouts were conducted in the pool.

    They don’t exactly translate to ground miles. It is an extra workout. It will b urn calories. It will help recovery from the ground running. It does build running-specific strength through resistance.

    My recommendation:
    Run the pool on your off day.
    Use the aqua running for a second workout on your double-workout days.
    Be sure you follow the advice in making these interval-like workouts.
    If you are truly fried one day… then make it a steady state recovery workout.
    How much you do and how much it fatigues you is very individual. Experiment. Drop a line to tell me how things are going.
    Coach Dean

  16. Pingback: Aqua Running Beyond Rehab Conditioning « The Running World According to Dean

  17. Laura says:

    I am 6 weeks post broken ankle and wanted to know if pool running would help me get back to running after this injury?

  18. Laura,
    Aqua-running is absolutely ideal for coming back from a broken ankle or any stress fracture because it reduces the pounding on that limb. Most bones heal within 6-8 weeks. Unless there is some other medical reason, you should be able to pursue the non-weight bearing approach in the deep end with the waist float. Then you can move to the partial weight bearing in the shallower end. Gradually reintroduce your hard ground running. A good way to do it is to alternate days… and listen to your body.
    Be sure you do the pool workouts in an interval fashion for the most benefit.
    Coach Dean

  19. Matt McCoy says:

    I have been diagnosed with a hip stress fracture, most probably caused by adding too much mileage or too much speed in a short time. I’ve been advised to stop running completely for the next 4 -6 weeks. In the meantime, can I aqua jog? I tried it yesterday, and felt no pain. Will it be beneficial to do, or would it be best to let the bone heal, then start again with pool running and later on hard ground?

  20. See today’s post. thanks for the question.

  21. Jon says:

    Thanks coach dean for this topic and site. I am an injury prone runner trying to finally get to the starting line of my first marathon. I have about 12 weeks to go till race time and have been able to do my speed work with no problem but about half way through my long slow run of 13 miles I came down with what I think is a case of ITB syndrome as the outside of my knees were absolutely killing. Will I be able to do my routine of slow jogs speed intervals and long slow distance runs for a couple of weeks in the pool and be able to do this marathon? I am in pretty good condition cardio wise now but I am quite nervous about losing a few weeks of road work. Sorry for the long post but any words of wisdom and or encouragement would be great as I’m a little frustrated now. Thanks

  22. Michele says:

    I am in Mexico for a month and there is no safe place for me to get in a run, nor is there a treadmill. I do have a pool and have been in the pool “running” however I found little direction on technique. The pool have both shallow and deep waters, I have been running the shallow (3′) to mid-deep (5′) parts of the pool and just cannot gauge if I am getting the benefits (do you toes touch or your whole foot? Knees up? Arms in the water or on top? If in the water are they moving back and forth as they would be when I run? I want to know, since this is all I have for about a month and will immediately begin training for a marathon when I return home, that I am getting some benefit out of the time I am putting into this. Thanks much – M

  23. Dean Hebert says:

    Good for you and good questions. Here are you short answers but I’ll send you a handout which better explains some workouts.
    Aqua running can be from knee deep to deep water – no feet touching at all.
    Foot strike will tend to be more forefoot due to resistance. But try to maintain normal running as much as possible. It’ll feel like running against the wind.
    You can move across the pool back and forth or deep end and not move. Either way maintain form and be sure you have full range of motion in your legs. Do not abbreviate it.

  24. Mike Cody says:

    I enjoyed reading your advise. I am almost 73 and have been running continuously for 55 yrs for a total of almost 78,000 miles and lots of marathons – following a college track history. That is the good news. The bad news is that I have completely worn through my heel pads and when I run now it is bottom skin on bone with no pad between. Even by limiting myself to grass and all weather tracks my heels break down and the friction and heat makes the pain too intense. So I am trying to back off and get 2 or 3 days of pool running with my Aqua Vest. I understand the interval value. Could you let me know of any workout schedules that would get me out of the steady water running routine.
    I would appreciate it. Thank you. Mike Cody

  25. Dean Hebert says:

    Mike,
    My hat is off to you and your long history of running as well as you diligence. I’ll send you a handout for some water workouts that might add some variety to your routine. However, if you get out of the water it sounds like you’ll have to hit an elliptical machine or exercycle due to your heel pad issue.

    Keep with the interval approach with both of these alternatives for the very best results.

    I wish there were a magic land workout I could recommend beyond the cross-training approaches. Though I know it’s tough not to do what we love – run – we also need to keep in mind why we do it – our health.

    Keep on!

  26. Heather says:

    Hey, I’m a newbie runner. I was trying to do the “Couch to 5k” program, but I have pretty bad chondromalacia, and halfway into the second week my knee started acting up where it was too painful to run. After it acts up it stays in a constant dull pain for at least a week and a sharp pain any time it’s bent or has pressure on it.

    I tried out the stationary bike today, and it’s certainly less painful on my knee but I just can’t do the same workout that I’m used to, and can’t seem to find any equal workouts, that start for newbies and work up to expert level.

    I love the idea of aqua jogging/pool running, but am wondering if I could still use the “Couch to 5k” planned time intervals and intensity (for example, run 3 minutes, walk 3 minutes) and get the same results? I know it’s working different muscles and it will be a bit different, but would this be a good plan to use? Should I add some time or modify it a bit? I was so excited about being able to run a 5k by my 19th birthday but it just can’t happen if my chondromalacia keeps coming back. =(

  27. Melanie says:

    Hi, I have fractured my second metatarsal-but it is still in good alignment. Before the injury i was running 10-12km a day 6 days a week with no other history of injuries or problems. I have been to Physio, my GP and an Orthapedic Specialist and they have all advised me differently how to maintain my fitness while I recover.
    I went to the local pool today to try aqua jogging but the depth is only chest high and the special aqua belts did not keep my afloat- may be due to my height. However I put my feet on the bottom and ran as best I could- no pain.(My injured foot I tended to land to the outer side.)
    Am I ok to run like this in the water and perhaps invest in some aqua shoes or is it too impacting for my injured foot even if I’m not in pain? Unfortunately there are no pools nearby that are any deeper to do the non weight bearing aqua jog technique.
    Thanks for your help!

  28. Dean Hebert says:

    Well as i first tell others I am not a doctor and I wouldn’t directly advise going against your own doctors recommendations. (my lawyer is happier when i state this up front)

    Certainly deep water is best. Pain is your best guide as to whether running on the pool bottom will help or hurt your recovery efforts. No pain is a good sign for you. Generally speaking the very slight pressure under water should not be significant enough to delay any healing… providing you do not have any other major issues i.e. osteoporosis.

    You mention something though that is significant. You land on the side of your foot and not in a normal foot strike. That of course is not good because you may end up straining something else from an unnatural foot strike. I don’t know if aqua shoes will make a difference. If they make you plant your foot normal… then I would recommend them.

    You are on the right track in doing aqua running to stay in shape… it has been shown to be the #1 best way.
    Drop a line and tell me how it goes.

  29. Owen says:

    I love the benefits from running BUT my hips and knees can’t take the pounding. I would like to make aqua jogging part of my regular routine. I work out 3-5 times a week doing a variety of different routines, none of which shape me up as fast as running.

  30. Dean Hebert says:

    Owen,
    This is a very viable alternative to hard ground running for conditioning. Just stay focused on the interval type approach to get decent benefits. However, the boredom factor is what gets most people.

  31. MisterYI says:

    Hey Coach,

    I’ve played all kinds of sports my whole life (baseball, basketball, soccer, and football) and as it often happens to many athletes I’ve begun to get lots of knee pains and injuries with my knee. I have patella tendonitis (chondromalacia of the patella with a fissure of the articular cartilage of the mid patella at the apex) and am recovering from a superficial tear of my anterior horn of the lateral meniscus. I have never had any serious conditioning training and never dealt with interval running before and I’m beginning aqua running to slowly reintroduce the feeling of running and I was wondering if you had any specific workouts designed to improve conditioning. Thanks for the post about aqua running it has been quite beneficial for me.

    • Dean Hebert says:

      I’ll email you a copy of my workout handout. It will give you a starting point. Feel free to drop me a line and tell me how it’s going.

      • Tom says:

        Hey coach,

        I read your article about aquarunning with very great interest. My wife is a long distance runner (national competition in Belgium) but she’s injured now : piriformis syndrome and SI-joint inflammation. So the only thing she can do is aquajogging and ellipticals to reduce the impact. Normally she trains 6 to 7 times a week at an average mileage of 55mi/week. The aquajogging sessions she does are : 5 series of 10 minutes with 2 minutes rest or 7 series of 8 minutes with 1.5 minutes rest. My question now is : could you please help her with some other training sessions in the swimming pool?

        Kind regards,

        Tom from Belgium

  32. MisterYI says:

    Thanks coach, I really appreciate your help

  33. I could send you a peer-reviewed research article showing that either electrostimulation or dry exercise are superior to aquatic recovery. You can look the abstract of the article up in my website research section.

  34. I was wondering if you just overlooked my comment of June 24, regarding a study comparing aquatic recovery compared to other forms of sport recovery. The abstract can be found on PubMed at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17685701

    The peer-reviewed research article concludes:

    Dry-aerobic exercises and electrostimulation were more beneficial than water-aerobic exercises and passive rest for reducing muscle pain, which could affect the player’s working ability.

  35. Pingback: Adventures in Aqua Running: marathon training with an injury — A bold pace

  36. Taylor says:

    Hi, I’m running to train for soccer this summer but some days it gets so hot outside that its extremely hard to jog. I have a pool and was wondering that if the temperature gets to high i could aqua run instead and would I benefit from it or not? I would appreciate your help.

  37. Dean Hebert says:

    Taylor,
    The answer to your question is an unquestionable YES! Keep your aqua running to interval training… hard and VERY hard repeats of 30 seconds or so alternated with a recovery “easy” run of 30 seconds or so.

  38. Pingback: The Joys of Aquajogging « Some Endurance

  39. Ron Klamborowski says:

    I have been aqua jogging for 8 years, three days per week. I also have aqua weights for resistance training. Many times I would just pick a spot to stare at, turn on my headphones and enjoy exactly the feeling of taking a long distance run for an hour.
    The lack of stress on my knees makes my hard surface runs more enjoyable. Other times, I would do one minute intervals in 5 feet of water and although I love to sweat and have never gotten over that part in a pool, when I get back into the locker room, I know I have had a workout. By the way, I have been running for 26 years. I am 72.

  40. Dean Hebert says:

    Ron,
    Great use of aqua-running. Keep it up… you’re doing great!

  41. Jin says:

    Thanks very much for useful info on pool running.
    I’m a rower but love,love running., and it’s a great cross-training too. I’ve been running in the pool since this november as I managed to strain left popliteus muscle, and therefore no training on the indoor rowing machine. I found pool running is quite enjoyable unlike some people say and here comes my questions:

    1. is pool running everyday ok as long as I vary the workouts?
    2. I found my knee, an injured one, is sore during and after the workout. Mainly inside knee, is this normal?
    I suspect that the knee pain came from running on land before I started running in the pool.The physiotherapist said running is not the best cross-training for the injury but I told him that I hate spinning and the inso he said I could run. and I think this was when the problem arose. I was supposed to run slowly, gradually not only because of the pulled popliteus but also becasue of the stress fracture I had before on the lower, left tibia. but sometimes I got carried away and went on and on. so I got to the point where I couldn’t run any more. But the pain caused me stop running wasn’t the stractured area but was the knee. and I’ve never had that much pain on my knee, mainly below knee cap, and inside knee, before. I can’t consult with the doctor/thepist now since the university is closed so is the clinic for varsity athletes. so I’ve been researching and came across your article.
    I’m very sorry for long explanation though tried to make it shorter.

    thanks very much and happy new year.

  42. Dean Hebert says:

    Jin,
    Yes it’s ok to do everyday if you vary workouts. The reason is that there is no pounding on your body and with resistance in all directions it’s simply an excellent all around workout.

    The knee issue is very unusual and I have not heard of that. It most likely is in fact due to your over-doing it; and now it has come back even in the water. Be sure you are keeping good running form – legs straight and modeling good running movements – not sideways movements. Some swimmers (especially some like synchronized swimming or water polo) who use an egg-beater motion with their legs can get tendonitis in their knees from this.

    Generally this is unusual – build slowly. Too much too soon is the number one cause of injuries.

  43. mary says:

    I’ve been diagnosed with bursitis in my right hip recently. My doc prescribed me PT and told me to train by Aqua-jogging. I completed a marathon in November and have another coming up at the end of March. My doctor is taking care of me quite well and hasn’t told me to not do the marathon. I believe i caught the injury quite early on.

    My question is, do you think I will lose progress from just training in the water? I have a solid foundation, as I trained for 16 weeks and completed a full marathon less than 2 months ago, so I feel confident about being in the right condition as far as running progress. A friend of mine told me her uncle trained for a marathon by aqua-jogging alone. Do you think this is possible? I’m following the doctor’s orders to a T and getting in the water every day to keep up my cardio. I’m not concerned about speed (I’m more of a penguin runner). I just don’t want to lose progress and I’m willing to work hard to maintain my level of running progress so I can complete the marathon, no PR necessary.

    Lastly, is there a brand of flotation belts that you recommend over others?

    Thank you!

    • Dean Hebert says:

      Aqua running WHEN DONE IN INTERVAL HIGH INTENSITY FASHION has been shown to maintain conditioning for a number of weeks (6-10) (depending on the study or anecdotal report). Penguin runner or not – if you just do aqua JOGGING – you will lose conditioning. ONLY high intensity intervals have shown to maintain conditioning… period. It is not about doing “speed” it is about an effort that is intense enough to compensate for not actually running. It is NOT about maintaining what so many runners refer to as “cardio”. You can do that riding a bike or swimming or doing an aerobics class. This is about maintaining BOTH your aerobic capacities as well as the neuromuscular training to get you back to running with the least down time.

      If you did not take much time off after the Nov. marathon and kept your condition then aqua running should bridge the gap until you are on your feet again.

      I have tried but one waist flotation device. It works fine. It’s called a Water Runner. Be sure to get the one appropriate for your size.

  44. Matt says:

    I’m a college distance runner who does a relatively high amount of running per week (70-90) but will usually try to do 2-3 very easy and slow 3-4 mile morning shakeout runs a week to get in more recovery. This system works great for me in the summer and fall when i can justify dirtying another pair of shorts everyday but in the winter i just hate having to get dressed for the cold western NY weather twice a day and have to do laundry twice as much as usual. My question is would it be just as good to replace my morning runs with aqua jogging sessions? My winter track training consists of LT tempos, fartleks, strides, and otherwise just mileage. Indoor races are essentially workouts as we do little to no VO2max work to peak for them. What kind of sessions would you suggest for this situation? would doing interval sessions in the pool affect my running workouts? or should I just do steady efforts to emulate the morning runs they are replacing? Thanks for any help you can offer!

  45. Dean Hebert says:

    Matt,
    Aqua running would be ideal to substitute for outdoor running. It’ll save your legs from some pounding as well as do some good conditioning things.

    The only thing that is well documented in the use of aqua running is high intensity interval type training. So, do not do steady state efforts. There is no reason that it will adversely effect your other runs – intense, long, easy or otherwise.

    I’ll email you a copy of a handout on these workouts that will guide you in what to do.

    • Jan says:

      Hi, I ruptured my plantar fascia a week ago today; can i just jump into aquajogging for the length of time I was ruuning for? Also can you email me the handout on the workout guide you sent Matt on 1/13/10. Thanks

      • Dean Hebert says:

        Jan,
        Like wow.. I have never heard of ruptured plantar fascia. Total bummer. I would say that you can indeed jump in BUT you MUST do the total floating version and NOT the running on the bottom of the pool type aqua running. Guide is in the mail…
        Please keep me up on your progress and how this works for you.

  46. Jin says:

    Hi,
    could I possibly have a copy of handout on workouts you mentioned above? if you don’t mind.

  47. Holly says:

    Hi,
    I am a college cross country runner and am dealing with an injury that may be a stress fracture. As a result, I have been cross training (biking and aquajogging) for the past two weeks. I really don’t want to lose training during this time because I’m hoping to be able to run in the outdoor track season. Do you have workouts that you know of that would help me maintain my fitness (or even slightly improve?) during my time off? Also, is it possible to do VO2 max work in the pool? Thanks!

  48. Dean Hebert says:

    The answer is yes and yes. You bet. Check your email.

  49. Anne says:

    I am a 800/1500m runner hoping to make the national team this summer and have a sore foot at the moment and cannot run. I fear that even if I aqua jog I will loose fitness and my season will be ruined. At the moment I go on the bike for 60mins for aerobic training 6 days a week and then pm I do interval sessions on the bike twice a week (4x4mins or 3x7mins) for my long intervals and only once in the pool where I do 20×1 min off 30secs. (only three sessions in total a week because that is what i do when i can run). I want to do more in the pool but dont know the best sessions. Also is it right in thinking that I couldnt do long intervals in the pool as the intensity would not be benifical? Also I only run about 35miles max a week so am hopeful that the amount of biking I am doing, with the correct aqua sessions, I could even be fitter (due to incresing my aerobic training and capacity on the bike so therefore my aqua sessions will get better?

  50. Dean Hebert says:

    Ok,
    Your fears and reservations are understandable. So there are several things you need to do. Yes, interval training is the type that has shown the most benefits. Steady state aerobic training is not useless but simply isn’t AS effective. So, if you wanted to do a morning long session and afternoon interval session in the pool that might work well. Even on a bike there is some research out there that HIGH INTENSITY INTERVAL TYPE TRAINING has cross-over effect on running – whereas steady state… not so much. I’ll email you a copy of some workouts you can do. Also, intervals can be done far more frequently in the pool than on dry land.

    As an 800/1500 runner you need faster yet than any distance runner… so push these!

    Finally, during this down time, it is critical that you address the mental aspects of being out. Every day keep an eye on your goals. You must fortify yourself to hang in there.. do these workouts… and believe that it will lead you to a successful season.

  51. Michele says:

    Greetings! I contacted you last year – I’m a marathoner who will be in Mexico for two months and the outdoor running here can be dangerous. I did aqua jogging last year. You mentioned sending interval training to Ann (?). Would you be willing to send me a training guide as well – I leave tomorrow. Much appreciated.

  52. Art says:

    Hello,

    I’m out of running for a week so far with a stress fracture. I might be out of training for a month or two and I’m worried about losing too much of my form before the racing season starts. I tried aqua running for the first time lastnight and it was great just to keep the legs ticking over. But is it possible to maintain race form by aqua running only? Do you know of any good workouts to maintain fitness for a 5km to 10km runner?

    Regards,

    Art

    • Dean Hebert says:

      Art,
      If what you mean is “how you look when you run” then the answer is that your running form itself will not greatly be affected.

      If you mean your conditioning then as outlined above.. no worries as long as you do interval type training. You will maintain much of your conditioning/form.

      I’ll email you my workout handout.

  53. mike cody says:

    Coach – You helped me 2 years ago when I broke my hip. With your help and water training I was back running, slower than before, within 3 months of the surgery. In those two years I have been running 9-10 min miles for 30 a week. In my marathon prime at age 45 I ran Boston in 2:48 and have logged over 79,000 miles since I started competitive running in 1953. I will be 74 in March.
    My question comes from the fact that the lifetime milage, much of it on streets, has worn my heel pads off so that I have nothing much between the out side skin and the heel bone. So when the weather is cold and my feet dry I develope deep cuts in my heels which make running impossible for weeks or months. If I am no longer wanting to run fast but only to burn calories and generally keep in shape do I get significant benefit from easy water running at a heart rate of 90 or do I have to do the interval training and get my rate up to 120 or more as you advised 2 yrs ago.
    Thanks again. Cody

  54. Dean Hebert says:

    I do remember you indeed. The heel pad thing is very unusual… only case I ever heard of.

    OK, you will burn more calories through higher intensity workouts.. period. So, intervals are where it’s at. Why? Because it revs up your metabolic rate better AND causes an after-burn of calorie expenditure that slow steady state running doesn’t do unless it is extremely long.. i.e. more than 90 minutes.

    Perhaps for mental aspects you could do some days steady..easy and others interval-like. But.. harder is better.

    So.. get with it… push it in the water.. and my hat is off to you to keep it going!

  55. Toby says:

    Can I get the workout sheet emailed to me too? Thanks!

  56. Greg says:

    I am an injured runner (slightly strained soleus as it appears)amd as a result just took up pool-running. Would be fabulous if I could receive the workout sheet. Thanks!

  57. Robin says:

    Hi,

    I have an achilles tendon injury and I have been aqua jogging. My question is: in general, how many calories will I burn through a high intensity workout of an hour? I may be sidelined for awhile and i really like aqua jogging because it feels like running, but am worried i will lose some ftiness (I run 40-50 miles a week and incorporate hill and interval training regularly) and gain weight without the traditional cardio. Is there any research done on this? I

    Thanks!

    Robin

  58. Dean Hebert says:

    Robin,
    Of course calorie burning varies widely by person and by intensity. Higher intensity burns more calories and contrary to popular fads lower intensity “fat burning zones” do not burn more body stored body fat. So, the idea is to burn more total calories in any given workout.
    To answer your question on calorie burning… I don’t know of research on this specifically. Very high intensity workouts can burn 800-1200 calories per hour – i.e. cycling greater than 20 miles an hour; running 10 miles an hour (these are just general reference points and again – VARY widely by person and current fitness condition and terrain and weather, etc.).

    You should not lose much fitness if you follow the rules of intensity/interval approach with aqua jogging discussed here. The added benefit over ground running is the resistance factor. So here again, fitness should not suffer even though you are accustomed to solid mileage… even Olympic level runners with far more mileage can maintain their conditioning this way.

    But the weight gain issue of course is real. And added body fat of course will decrease performance in some way. So, don’t let it add on in the first place.
    1. Get extra attentive to your diet.
    2. Supplement workouts with other workouts (burn calories).

    Stay in touch and tell me how your progress goes.

  59. Rim Aoude says:

    Hello..

    To be honest, not sure what is wrong with my left leg, its been 1.5 months, and the pain is not fully going away, based on my research i think its ITB… I increased my KM by more than 50% in one month… i think i over did it… :)

    Just started aqua running in my pool, but i am not sure if i am doing it right…. plus my question is: what is the equivelant of a 1.5 hours run on hard surface… is it also 1.5 hours of aqua running?

    Also i noticed that the front of my feet, close to my ankle hurts when i aqua running, am i doing something wrong?

    Would also appreciate if you send me the handout… thanks for the info…
    I just moved from Canada to Qatar, and resources here are very scarce…

    • Dean Hebert says:

      Ok,
      Yup… up by 50% in one month…. most likely just too much too soon.

      There isn’t a real “equivalent” aqua versus hard ground. They don’t equate. It would be like saying 1.5 hours of aerobics class equals 1.5 hours of cycling equals 1.5 hours of elliptical. But, look at it as adequate cardio to maintain cardio AND more importantly neuromuscular specific to running! THAT is the key in why aqua running has been so well documented both empirically and practically for runners in maintaining conditioning. And that intensity is the key NOT just doing cardio (like some Long Slow Distance workout).

      Try doing the aqua running with the waist float and do not do the method of running on the bottom of the pool. Both are good. But given your ankle symptoms… something is not quite right. If you are already doing the full floating method then you are most likely using your feet like swimmers (think like swimmer kicks?) instead of using RUNNING form. That extra flexion in the ankle is something you are not accustomed to and therefore that might be aggravating some tendons.

      I’ll send you out my workout form.

      Tell me how things go.

  60. Laura says:

    Hi,
    I am suffering from IT Band issues and haven’t ran for 3 weeks!!!!! Spinning and the Ellipicital seem to bother my leg so I am thinking pool running would be my safest bet. I am not much of a swimmer and was wondering what you recommend my work out consist of in the pool. I would normally run 8 or more miles a day to maintain fitness. I would like to mimic that in the pool. Should I get the aqua belt and could you email me some work outs for the pool?

    • Dean Hebert says:

      Laura,
      The good news is that I think aqua running will indeed help you and I have also run across similar issues with my runners in using elliptical and spinning with ITB. You won’t know till you try of course. The nature of aqua running is VERY different than going for an hour run or whatever. The only substantiated way it maintains conditioning is very high intensity interval-like sessions. No easy long slow distance-type running allowed (other than some warm up time) ok? Also, swimming is totally unnecessary. I also do not swim. Get the waist float. You’ll be in business.

  61. Greg says:

    Thanks for sending me the workout sheet.. Good advice indeed.

    You wanted me to drop by and comment on my experiences. Well, I have just finished my first week of water-running. On the web I’ve found an excellent workout schedule. The program stresses high intensity interval sessions (just like you say!!) and one steady-state “run” per week. A workout typically lasts for about 30 to 40 min, including 5min of warm-up and cool-down. Last Saturday, for example, I did 4x5min with 1min recovery between. I found that the toughest of my first week.

    Overall the water-running workouts are fun, make me feel good, give me a sens of running and I feel fit.

    Additionally twice a week I do “core” exercises and resistance training (aimed at the core and running specific) accompanied by stretching. On non water-running days I do medium intensity (endurance) workouts on a stationary bike lasting more than 1 hour. I will increase duration from workout to workout.

    • Greg says:

      One more thing. Just read another one of your posts on this subject (Water Training … http://coachdeanhebert.wordpress.com/2008/12/13/water-training-aka-aqua-jogging-aqua-running/) and now I am wondering if I do my DWR workouts with a high enough intensity. Is there a good way to measure / control intensity. RPE and HR seem to be misleading.

      Finally, really how important is form?

      • Dean Hebert says:

        Good questions… RPE is probably the most reliable – which by the way has been shown many times in studies to actually be more reliable than HR. I don’t know of another way to do this in the water.

        Form is important. Your muscles are being trained… you do not want to train them to do something you don’t want them to do. So, full range of motion, smooth movements, use that resistance in the water, don’t cheat the “strides” by shortening them. Also, you do not want to use your feet and legs like you’re kicking in water as a swimmer or trying to tread water (like you might in water polo for instance).

  62. Gareth says:

    hiya Coach Dean – great info – just off injured with shin splints at mo and training for Ironman Switz – any chance you could email me that aqua running schedule mentioned above? Started it last week and looking some good programmes to folllow

    Thanks for the great info!

    Gareth
    Ireland

  63. Dina says:

    Hi Coach, this is a popular post! Thanks for all of the info. and great answers to everyones questions.
    I have spent the winter suffering from several sports related injuries. My injuries started in Decemeber with metatarsalgia in my right foot. I took 3 weeks off of running for that then started back with a 4 mile run. Next my ankle started hurting, I assume from running to far after my lay off. My doctor prescribed a NSAID and told me to cut back to 1/2 – 2/3 of my regular workouts which I have done but now I am suffering with knee pain on the front of my kneecap. I am very frustrated and am supposed to be getting ready for a team relay event on April 18th. I am only the alternate for the team but I am afraid if I don’t get some kind of running in I won’t be any use to my team. I need to be ready to run at least 3-4 miles to be able to fill in if another runner gets injured during the race. I believe in the benefits of cross training so my typical fitness schedule is 2 days swimming, 2 or 3 days cycling, and 2 days running although I have only managed 1 day of running for the last month. I have been substituing the other running day with pool running or the elliptical (or sometimes both – elliptical for 20 min followed by pool running for 20 min). I am wondering if I should replace my cycling with pool running during the time up to the race to save my knee. I’m not sure if cycling is bad for patellar problems or not. Also will pool running be enough conditioning to have me ready for my team if needed? Can you recommend some effective poolworkouts? Thanks for your time :)

    • Dean Hebert says:

      I would strongly recommend replacing one of your cycling AND one of your swimming workouts for pool workouts if your current goal is to run. Swimming has not been found to have very good cross-over effects of training to running; whereas very hard cycling has been found to have cross-over effects to running.

      So, cross training is good. However, everything has to have a purpose. Cycling for some people indeed exacerbates knee tendonitis issues. If your goal is to get ready to run, then you must run (or aqua run as is this case).

      The good news is that on 1-2 days of dry land running and 2-3 days of aqua running – you should easily be capable of a 4 miles relay leg.

      I’ll send you my workout sheet.

      • Yonas says:

        I’m training for my 1st marathon and have found that cycling (as one of my cross-training days) has indeed been exacerbating some tendinitis issues I’ve been dealing with on my left knee. Aqua running feels so good and it enables me to train really hard without worrying about the hard impact on my legs (giving me an extra boost for my “key run” days).

        Question: the pool at my gym only goes to 4.5ft in depth (mainly for swimming laps) and I run laps but my feet touch the ground (so it mainly feels like I’m running with resistance bands behind my back or running with a parachute or in snow)…I’ve found that if i strap on a flotation belt, I can station myself at the deepest part of the pool and stay in one spot (but it doesn’t feel as natural to my running form)

        I really appreciate the advice, Coach Dean!

      • Dean Hebert says:

        Whether you touch the surface or not, it does take work to maintain form. Both approaches work. That is a matter of preference. It’s just practice and concentration. If you prefer to touch the bottom because it feels like your form is more natural – do it. Keep working at it.

  64. Lee says:

    I am just going to be attempting to do pool running, as I have am very injury prone and again have a outer knee injury, but I still need to log in the running time every week as I have a half marathon and some triathlon races coming up. I would just like to know what different pool running routines could I or is there to incorperate into my session so I can get the most benifit and least amount of bordom out of my workouts.
    Thanks

  65. jessie says:

    I am a generally new runner. I trained for about 6 months and ran a half marathon this past may. Unfortunately, I had was hit by a car in June, and it hurt my hip. I can only tolerate a very short amount of biking, because it causes a pinch… Everyone has been telling me not to run on land, but aqua jogging sounds ok. I would like to train or at least get back up to a place where I would be able to run a half marathon. Is there an aqua jogging training program for this that you would recommend?

  66. Dean Hebert says:

    Jessie,
    I sent you a response on aqua-running but here is one other possibility – the use of EMS for the injury recovery. If this might be something you want to look into – contact me.

    One case study that may be similar and worth consideration:
    I was no pro but I sure used my Globus for injury recovery! Hi! I got hit by a truck while biking in Aug 2007 – 5 days before I was supposed to fly to Germany for International Triathlon Union’s World Championships. I broke my neck, my spine in 3 places, both wrists and 1 rib, I had a dissected L carotid artery with a large blood clot in it. I was put on Heparin to dissolve the clot (and prevent a massive stroke) but I had a hematoma in my R thigh that led to pre-compartment syndrome and 6 surgeries (fasciotomies) within a one week span. Basically, my quad was roached. They had to split my IT band, too. I was told I may never walk and I definitely would not race triathlon. Well, I did walk and then I eventually got my Globus. I have been using the strength and recovery programs. I have noticed a remarkable improvement. It is almost unbelievable! I only did one tri last year – USAT Nationals – and I qualified for the US Team going to Brisbane, Australia for World Sept. 13, 2009! Pretty cool for someone who was never supposed to walk! Yes, I also did physical therapy and I am careful with my nutrition (I love Hammer Whey for recovery) but I believe my Globus had a HUGE effect on my ability to strenghten, recover and train my right leg to perform again!

  67. Cécile says:

    Hi Coach Dean,

    Just stumbled upon your blog while doing research on pool running. I definitely have tons of catch up reading to do! I’m going to try pool running tonight. I’m running the Ottawa marathon in May but right now I have plantar fasciitis in both feet so I’m looking for alternate methods of training. Could you please email me that pool running training program you’ve sent to others? Thanks so much for all the great info!
    Cheers,
    Cécile

  68. Kathy Rakel says:

    Thanks for all the great info on this site! I’m a newer pro triathlete and am dealing with my first real injury. I’m having pain in my right hamstring and am now at a point where I need to lay off the real running. So, I’ve been aqua jogging in deep water. I find that I get a better workout on my legs (especially my quads) when I use no flotation belt. I have no problem staying afloat without the belt…as long as this is the case, do you think using no belt is more beneficial?

    • Dean Hebert says:

      Great question… there is little researched as to which approach is better. So, whatever way you feel you get the best workout definitely is the way to go. Sometimes due to the depth (or shallowness) of the pool, there isn’t any choice… the bottomline.. is that either approach works. Keep it up!

  69. Tracey says:

    Hi,
    My daughter has for the last 4 weeks been aquajogging using the belt and varying her sessions, could you please email your pool running programe please. Great site, lots of useful info.
    Tracey

  70. Megan says:

    Hi and thanks for the great article and for giving feedback to everyone!
    I have been a runner for years, but just started looking into pool running last week because I am sidelined with a tibial stress fracture.

    I am excited about the benefits listed and found what I think is a good pool running workout online (includes different duration workouts with increasing time each week, different interval workouts, a ladder workout, stretching on rest days, etc.). I add some breast stroke swimming and flutter kicks with the board before or after each running workout, just for additional upper body work. And I am doing upper body lifting as well.

    But, I’m still missing workouts with my hubby in the great outdoors! I am wondering what your thoughts are on when I can add back in some ground running. I was planning to do 4 full weeks pool running only. Then (as long as there is no sign of the pain) I was going to attend a Good Form Running Clinic (to try to stop my heel striking) and start gradually building up mileage outside.

    Do you have any recommendations or running schedules for continuing pool running while safely increasing my mileage on solid ground?

    Thanks again for your help!
    Megan

    • Dean Hebert says:

      The dr. will have to give you the first sign – the go ahead with terra firma training. So, then, one day on ground (might even be grass surface) week one; try 2 the next week and do that for 2 weeks; then 3 after that and 2 weeks of that. All the while do aqua runs – 2-4 times per week. Start cautiously with running jogging then move upward. Your body will talk to you… be sure to listen.

      I strongly advise against some “form running clinic”. There is absolutely no such thing as ONE correct form nor is there ONE footstrike. To tamper with nature (YOUR anatomy) usually creates more problems than it cures. Work on your overall strength, run more quality workouts (faster gets you more efficient) which refine your form naturally instead of some arbitrary artificial manner. Most often a stress fracture is from too much too soon.. over doing it with out being prepared… NOT form issues.

      Good luck… you’ll be out there before you know it.

  71. Erin says:

    Hi! I am a marathoner who is recovering from Bunion surgery. I started pool running this week, a month after my surgery. I would love a copy of your training schedule! Thanks!

  72. Mark says:

    Snow running and sand is also good idea for safety. I am afraid to run in a pool because of the life guards and slipping

  73. tricia says:

    So happy I found this site. I spent about 12 weeks off from running earlier this year due to a talus stress fracture and then heel pain.I returned to running a month ago and am still slowly building back up my miles.unfortunately I continue to have pain so I went for some additional tests. I was diagnosed with tarsal tunnel syndrome yesterday and was told to stop running for a few weeks until my custom orthotics come in and they correct my severe overpronation (which is causing the aforementioned injuries). I’m pretty disappointed because I am two weeks out from the start of marathon training. I’m now worried I won’t have enough base miles built up. The physical therapist suggested pool running with a belt and I am hoping and praying I can keep or even build my conditioning. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks!

    • Dean M. Hebert says:

      Tricia, Thanks for your blog post and dropping by. I’m attaching a workout sheet that is the best way to use aqua running. AS for your marathon… Start back running on dry ground sparingly… augment all the other days with aqua running. Once you can successfully do one day without pain, then add a second. etc. It might be a bit tricky but training can be designed to get you where you want to be. Stay in touch and tell me how it goes.

      Coach Dean

    • Dean Hebert says:

      I emailed you some information and general response. I hope it helps. Tell me how it goes.

  74. Tricia says:

    Hi coach,

    Thanks for the speedy response. I havent received an email…would you mind resending it? enduranceisntonlyphysical@gmail.com

    I had my first pool running session yesterday and I have to say I was pleasently surprised. It was a pretty decent workout. My husband (my usualy training buddy) and I sprinted each other. Those “races” kept it interesting. Looks like my injury will end up benefitting him as well. :) I’m actually more sore from the pool than I am from our runs. Is that to be expected, or is it an indication of not keeping form?

    Thanks again, hope you’ve had a great weekend!

  75. Dean Hebert says:

    Good stuff… it is most definitely easier/more interesting with someone else in the pool with you doing these!

    You can expect some soreness since the resistance is different than dry land… but it should be fairly mild and you’ll accommodate to pool running just like ground running… and should not last.

  76. Bree says:

    Hi,
    I’m meant to be starting college and joining the XC team this fall, but have just been diagnosed with a bone oedema in my cuboid and told to do a few weeks of non weight bearing exercise. I’ve tried water running with a belt a few times before. Whilst I can usually feel my legs working when I water run, I find it almost impossible to really raise my heart rate and get myself puffing the way I would with a land run. Hence I get out of the pool feeling I have not really done anything beneficial. I try and keep my body upright and as close to a normal running motion as I can when in the pool. Any advice you have would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

    • Dean Hebert says:

      You’re doing the right things. Be sure you run INTERVALS and not steady state runs. HR is irrelevant… no correlation. Drop it. Go by effort. You’re getting neuromuscular training while maintaining aerobic conditioning. Keep it going.

    • Greg says:

      Increase intensity. As Dean has mentioned high intensity intervals are the key to success. HR is of little use. It differs from land running because of the water pressure influencing venous return (blood being pumped back to the heart). In this case intensity is usually measured / communicated by RPE (range of perceived exertion on a scale from 0 to 10, modified Borg scale). For water running intervals you probably would want to go for a rating of between 7 (very strong) and 9.

      I used water running for recovery after an injury and have added it to my regular workouts. At my age (52) the body needs a longer time to recover from hard workouts, especially when they were weight-bearing (pounding my feet against the ground). So I alternate “impact” days with non-impact days and do DWR (deep water running) on some of those, cross training (high intensity bike spinning) on others.

      One more tip: if you have clearance from your physiotherapist / doctor regarding your particular injury, I recommend you add some bicycle sessions to your injury recovery program. It helps to maintain muscular strength while having a cross-over effect for running. Ask the college coach for appropriate mode and intensity.

      Good luck.

  77. Jenny says:

    Hi,
    I recently completed my first marathon. I was training for my second until I got a stress fracture in my foot last weekend. I have been told about the benefits of pool running. Would you send me your workout program? Thank you for all your information you are an excellent resource.
    Jenny

  78. Jennifer says:

    Hi~

    I’m a runner and was recently diagnosed with shin splints and a possible stress fracture. I found your website while looking for ways to stay fit during recovery. I’ll attempt my first aqua running session next week…could you please send your workout program? Thank you so much!

  79. Cris says:

    Looks like I have a stress fracture in my left tibia. I’m just shy of two months away from my first attempt at the Goofy Challenge at Walt Disney World (1/2 marathon on Saturday, full on Sunday). I can’t afford to sit out my training, but I had to skip my 18-mile long run last week, and I’m ready to go insane.

    Cycling doesn’t seem to hurt, but I’m afraid I’m going to lose conditioning. I’m not looking to win either event, but I’d like to complete each race on my feet. Before my injury sidelined me, I was doing 4 weekly runs: a 5- mile medium paced run, a 3-4 mile faster paced run, a 10-12 mile slower, interval run and a true, slow, long run. The last two runs were done on consecutive days to simulate the event in January. I built up my mileage slowly, but I ran a 1/2 marathon race two weeks ago and pushed myself too hard for the training schedule I had mapped out. Now the pain has hobbled me to the point of discouragement.

    I’ve bought a belt, and am ready to start aqua jogging tomorrow. How do I simulate long runs? How do I keep my conditioning?

    Please help.

    Thanks,
    C

  80. Deirfinn says:

    Hello,
    I am recovering from what appears to be soft tissue damage of some sort inside my ITB (which is my usual injury). I would love a copy of your aqua workout schedule. I aquajogged for 45 mins today and felt good doing it, but I must say it did not feel nearly as exhausting as a normal 45 mins workout high intensity. I was keeping it pretty intense. Possibly a workout to follow might help.

    Thank you,
    DF

  81. Proform Pete says:

    Hey thanks for the post, this sounds like fun to me. I have been stickley a land runner, but I love to be in the pool. I don’t think it would boring, and I can not wait to give it a try.

  82. Jonathan says:

    I have pulled my hamstring and it has now been a month and it isn’t much better (probably because I have done the odd run when I think it is getting better). Would aqua running be the thing for me or would it make the injury worse?

  83. I’m running my first marathon on May 22nd and have hurt my left ankle – I don’t think it’s too serious but I do probably need to rest up for a few days at least. I’m seeing a sports physio in a couple of days but thought I would try aqua running tomorrow instead of my intervals programme and came across your great post. As I’ve never tried aqua running before I wondered if you could also email me the handout you’ve mentioned? Thanks!

    Dan

  84. Sam says:

    Hi,

    I have currently been out of physical activity for almost 8 months and have had issues diagnosing a nerve issue either in my lower back or piriformis.. The issue would only bother me when playing soccer causing a dull ache in my buttocks area, when i was aquajogging,eliptical weight lifting I had no issues with pain, i cut my workouts to only aquajogging as i feel the other things might be aggravating the nerve. Do you think the aquajogging is causing aggravation as there is resistance in the water? I would like to raise my EPOC level and feel an am and pm workout of aquajogging would help me burn fat quickly as opposed to one a day, could i fall into an issue of overuse as i’m in the pool too much? If you could send me one of the workouts that would be appreicated as im trying to get back into soccer condition.

    • Dean Hebert says:

      It is possible but unlikely that aquarunning is aggravating your injury. The only way to know it to isolate it (as you are doing) and see if it worsens or gets better. The resistance – since it is light/gentle – does not usually cause problems.

      Since there is no pounding on your body you could very well get a couple workouts in each day. You’ll have to monitor your own body to see the effects and know when it is too much. I wouldn’t just jump in and go from 7 to 14 workouts a week!

  85. Sarah Thomas says:

    Wow! What a great site! I have been pool running for the last 4 wks following a slightly modified version of Pete Pfitzingers Pool running plan. I do intervals 3x’s a week and 1 2 hour steady LR per week. Prior to injury I was running 40 MPR incorporating steep inclines but no speedwork. My pool sessions leave me utterly exhausted as I do not lack self motivation to PUSH! I am training for the Boston Marathon and have self diagnosed myself with a tibial stress reaction. ( I suffered a stress fracture 2 years ago and the pain was not at all on the same level). When I started having mild persistent pain following runs, I immediately gave up the roads in favor of the pool. It has now been a full 4 wks in the pool, and I plan to continue up until the Marathon. Do you think it would be beneficial to log some road miles prior to Boston? I follow a progressive run approach to my 2 hr pool runs. Do you think it would be beneficial to run even longer than 2 hrs? Any ideas on how to (of if I should) taper pool running? I would love a copy of your pool running workouts. I intend to incorporate pool running as a staple to my training when I return. Thanks in advance for your time, Sarah

  86. shadaanalam says:

    thnks you for that wonderful post, as a content writer for a sports website, this was truly an amzing article to know, helped me in knowing about an aqua jogging which hitherto was unkown to me.

  87. CJ says:

    Hi, I’m currently out with a metatarsal stress reaction, and have been aquajogging for about 60mins a day for the last few weeks waiting for it to heal. Just wondering if maybe you could email me the workout schedule as I find myself getting bored of the same few workouts i made up myself. Also, i intend to make aquajogging a regular part of my training schedule when returning to running (and when training fully) to help prevent further injury as a result of too much mileage, just wondering how you’d suggest including it in a training programme with say, 50miles a week running and two hard workouts. (Would the aquajogging be on easy days and done hard/easy or an add-on to running workouts done hard or at recovery effort?) Great advice here, many thanks.

  88. Kelly says:

    I’ve injured the top of my foot, x-ray doesn’t show a stress fracture. I’m two weeks from Boston — since I haven’t been doing the aquajogging I hesitate to start something new this close to my marathon. I’m trying to “let it heal”, I hope to still run the marathon. It seems to be a tendon issue, since it only hurts with my shoes on. Would it be better to aquajog? I’m at the taper where intensity over distance is best. What do you suggest? Thanks.

    • Dean Hebert says:

      Kelly – you got it… exactly.. hard reps doing aqua running will maintain conditioning while letting your foot rest. Yes you can do this and still run Boston.

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  90. Dafydd says:

    Hi there. Found your website on Google. Very interesting, I am curious to try it out. Can you please email me a workout for pool running? I get sore knees from running. Thanks.

  91. Marie says:

    I injured my hip yesterday on the treadmill, sports doc thinks it’s either a sprain or potential stress fracture. I was running 60+ miles a week, so the at least a month off running report is sounding impossible.

    I’m not training for anything, but I’m addicited to the running high… would aqua running provide me this while I recover? And, since I’m definitely an endurance runner I’m used to maintaining one pace, not intervels. So, your workout plan would be much appreciated.

    • Dean Hebert says:

      Marie,
      Whether aqua-running provides the “runners high” you want is subjective…. since the actual phenomenon is subjective. Some people it will and some it won’t. The only way to know is to give it a go.
      As for maintaining one pace – if you do so with aqua running I will almost guarantee loss of conditioning. Even distance runners need quality runs in order to improve maintain or just round out complete training. And the research has only supported aqua-running as a valuable – conditioning enhancing or conditioning maintaining activity with an interval approach.

      Just a reality check: 60+ miles per week would be a sub-3 hour marathoner in any decent training program. In fact I have runners who are sub-3 marathoners who run less than 50/week. I have ultra marathoners running less than you… and staying healthy.
      I mention this for a couple reasons. Stress fractures are more associated with high miles (not quality miles). With your mileage you greatly increase your odds of repeating this type of injury.
      The way to decrease this possibility is in fact to vary your paces and infuse your running with quality while decrease those miles.

  92. Greg says:

    And while we are at altering the program, how about some hill runs (up and down, thus real hills not treadmill inclines) every now and then. This would challenge muscles involved in running a bit differently and help strengthen stabilizing muscles which can help prevent injury when the rest of the system gets tired. A few (body-)weight exercises (squats, lounges, glute bridges, … ) for the legs could also help with injury prevention.

  93. Sally says:

    Hi there! I would love it if you could please send me the e-mail of the pool running workouts. Thanks so much!

  94. Viviane Ferraz says:

    Hi, Coach
    I haven’t run in almost a month due to a knee injury. Congratulations on the wonderful website. I found it while looking for acqua running as a way to stay fit during recovery. I wonder if you could send me your workout program? I’d be very grateful.
    Thank you so much!
    All the best
    Viviane

  95. Michel says:

    So glad I found this article!
    I am currently in limbo with what could be a stress fracture in my foot or a tendon issue. I’ll find out more next week. I was lucky though that I will be getting the ok to do PT on a water treadmill. What is the difference between running on water treadmill vs. land? and how much more efficient would the pool running be versus a water treadmill.
    Thank you and I would love to have that training plan as well if you could email it to me!

  96. Maud says:

    I’m confused. I aqua jog as cross training and when I am injured, in a pool which is deep enough for me to run without my feet touching the bottom. You mentioned that running in deep water is static but I run lengths. Am I doing it wrong?

    • Dean Hebert says:

      Perhaps and perhaps not. I don’t know your running “form”. You may move some but the intent is not to do lengths. You are not swimming or using your legs/feet in a swimming motion (i.e. feet moving like they are flippers) therefore movement should normally be limited.

  97. dan says:

    Hi, I’m recovering from a grade 1 – 2 calf tear, and have been aqua running 6 days a week for the past 4 weeks – mainly intervals for about 40 minutes. My physio tells me I should be starting light running in another week. But I have some key races coming up in early August. A couple of questions: Is it realistic to be aiming to race in early August? and to what extent do you think my times will have dropped by the time I’m back with the pack? Many thanks Dean

    • Dean Hebert says:

      How you FEEL once you return to road running will dictate if you should be racing in August. There is no way to know for sure. The real test is not just getting out and running again on terra firma… it is can you do speed work and hill work to get you in shape to race?

      You could run the race… racing the race may end up a relative term – doing the best you can with what you got.

      As for how much conditioning loss – you may lose some leg turnover but if you’ve been doing intervals in the water all this time your aerobic base should be in tact. So, if your calf allows you to do some speed work on the ground you should be able to race quite well in August is what I would say.

      • dan says:

        thanks Dean, I’ll let you know how I go. started road running again, and am amazed how well conditioned the aqua running has left me. i’m thinking of keeping the aqua running going alongside my road training, as it seems to have had a great effect.

  98. Kay says:

    Hi,
    We are going to put in a swimming pool at our house. I have osteo arthritis and have been advised to start aqua jogging. We are planning to install a pool that is 20feet long with a depth ranging from 4ft to 6ft, will this be long enough and deep enough to be effective for aqua jogging?

    • Dean Hebert says:

      Kay,
      The depth of a pool depends on what you want to do. 3-4 feet is a good depth for allowing you to touch the bottom and move back and forth like doing laps. If you are about 6 feet tall or less then a 6 ft. depth – with a waist float – will be fine for Deep Water Running (DWR). In DWR you are pretty much stationary – running in place.

  99. mizunogirl says:

    Oh wow, I am so happy to find this, and to see it is still generating replies over several years (Now that is a Good informative post!)
    I’ve just started pool jogging…5-6 weeks out of surgery to repair FAI and labral tear of my left hip. Per the PT, I do it in the shallow end, to get the strike and push off, to try to get the hip engaged a bit again. (Prior to surgery I had only used deep water jogging and usually ended up swimming instead since I am a good swimmer.)
    They are going to let me start running on ground possibly in October….LONG haul I know. I really want to run a 5K at the tail end of October and a 10K Mid November and a slow half in late February (FAst half in Early March?). Prior to surgery I was in passable shape, completed a Marathon in February 2011, with the torn labrum, ran a terrible half in March, and had the surgery in May. I did gain some weight and am trying to get it off with cycling/physical therapy weights and the pool jogging.
    I’m just wondering where my cardiovascular status may be when they do allow me to run for 5 minutes in October. (Yes we are having a party.) I was slowing down due to pain and was running 10:40-11-12 min miles. I dont want to be slower than that!

    I’ve just been jogging up and down the pool. Do you recommend doing intervals or just continuing with the running as it is. It does not raise my heart rate or make me sweat or get short on my breath, but I really feel the workout later in my operative hip and my gastrocs.

    Any help/advice.support much appreciated. This long recovery is starting to not be fun, especially when my friends keep saying, “Still no trails?” duh.

    • Dean Hebert says:

      Steady state aqua running hasn’t been shown to be as good as interval training in maintaining or improving conditioning. That being said, pain has to be your guide. If it hurts, you need to proceed cautiously. You can expect some discomfort in your surgical area in your return. That is normal.

      If you can do so safely (no increased pain), I’d recommend you alternate days like you do now with deep water (with float belt) running intervals.
      But, you most certainly have to get your HR up otherwise you won’t be getting the work you need; you may be getting some resistance work and strengthening but not the aerobic benefits. Keep doing weight training and lose the excess weight. Doing those things will serve you well in coming back.

      Your goal of 5 minutes of running is modest and you should be able to do that easily by October.

      • mizunogirl says:

        I’d love to run more than 5 minutes in october, but thats what I’m being told to plan on…

        they did let me on the ellipitical for a half a mile today…
        thanks so much. I’m going to add in the intervals if they will let me. THe pain comes and goes, so its always a surprise as to how I’m going to feel each day!

      • mizunogirl says:

        Thanks Coach Dean! I am checking back in to say I am earlier than expected able to run the straights on the track (no curves yet) and also 2-3 minute intervals on the treadmill, My Cardio status is horrific, with my HR actually shooting to 188 once….but it is coming back. I am still doing 1 hour of deep water jogging with the belt about 3 times a week.
        And thanks to my WONDEFUL surgeon, I am actually able to run much faster than expected (easy run is a 9:30 pace) and without pain. Now if I could run a whole mile…I’d be cracking open the champange!

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  101. Maryam says:

    Hello. I was searching for information on aqua running and came upon your site. Great! I was just grounded for two weeks by my sports med doc. Have been feeling a lot of discomfort/pain on my inner thighs and into my pelvis. Have only been running for six months with gradual and sensible mileage increases, but now I have a half marathon scheduled in 6 weeks. Doc put me on Prednisone for 10 days for severe inflammation and suggested aqua running for two weeks––he wants to get me to my half marathon goal. However, I feel like today I was just aqua jogging––not running––and I want to really push myself so I don’t lose any of my endurance, etc. As such, I would love to see what you recommend for an aqua running workout. I have a water belt and am committed to do this, both for recovery and long-term cross-training. Could you send me your training program/recommendations? I really appreciate your site and all the wisdom I have read through tonight.

  102. Caroline Garrod says:

    Hi Dean,

    I’m currently training for a half-marathon, and am interested in trying out aquajogging when I go to my cottage this weekend, as running is impossible due to the terrain (it’s very uneven and I have very weak/accident-prone ankles). Is it possible to do aquajogging with a life-jacket, or does this make it too easy (as in, too much of your body weight supported, so that you’re not really working)? Do you need to have something holding you up as a float?

    Thanks so much :)

    • Dean Hebert says:

      Caroline,
      That is one question I have never fielded. I think that the life-jacket is a bit bulky and may change arm carry. Remember the important thing is that you mimic hard surface running. Since you are buoyed regardless of the source of buoyancy the resistance itself in the water will be the same. Unless you are doing water running while actually touching the bottom (like waist deep water).. only then does your “weight” change depending on how deep you go. Once floating…. all is the same. Your resistance is coming from movement in the water.

      If you are going to do this on any regular basis, I’d recommend the waist belts. They work perfectly.

  103. Greg says:

    I’ve been doing DWR (deep water running) with a life-jacket. It works fine for me. On the other hand, I have never used a different floating device. Thus I would not no the difference, I guess, just give it a try and find out.

    Greg

  104. Jim says:

    Hi Coach Dean,

    Congratulations on a phenomenal blog! I just started my research on aqua running yesterday, and I feel very fortunate to have come across your site, and learn of the importance of interval training in the water. I’ve been preparing for a marathon taking place in early December, and am aiming to run it at a PR 3:15 and qualify for Boston in the process. Unfortunately, following some recent speed work, I aggravated what I’m guessing is a tendon in the fleshy area just above the middle of my left kneecap. It only really hurts, though, from the impact of running and not from the range of motion. So, I’m hoping that aqua running might be the perfect exercise to allow me to continue to train while healing up, and have ordered a float belt.

    Do you have an aqua training program you could email to me that I could use to continue with as part of my marathon training? Initially I want to use it as a complete substitute, to allow my muscle to heal, and then eventually to work in road runs once again.

    Also, my training is taking place in Denver. I’m curious if you’ve heard of any research regarding the benefits of aqua running in altitude?

    Thanks!

    Jim

    • Dean Hebert says:

      Thanks Jim,
      I’ll send something along to you. I’m actually in the process currently of writing a book on aqua-running which will be much more comprehensive. As for altitude, I don’t know any specific research. However, the principles, benefits and considerations would be the same for any aerobic exercise.

    • Greg says:

      Jim, I don’t know of any special research connecting altitude training and aqua-running. I would think the same principles should apply as for any other training at altitude as it is related to a “thinner” air. Jack Daniels, Phd (not the famous whiskey, mind you) through his work is well versed in altitude training and has a few pages on it in his book “Daniel’s Running Formula”, 2nd edition.
      Good luck with your PR.
      Greg

  105. dan says:

    Hi Dean, just to give you some feedback. after a grade 2 calf tear, I completed a 6 week programme of aqua running using interval schedules, followed by 2 weeks incremental training back with the running club. and yesterday I got a personal best time for a local 5k race. aqua running has definitely worked for me in maintaining my running fitness. thank you for this inspiring website.
    Dan

  106. dan says:

    Dean, can you advise about one more thing? My distance is generally 10k, but I have a half marathon to train for. What do you think about doing ‘mileage’ in the pool as part of a training regime? would, say, 60 mins in the pool steady be equivalent to land running , say, 7 or 8 miles? Is it reasonable to do a weekly long pool ‘run’ in place of a long land run?
    With many thanks.
    Dan

    • Dean Hebert says:

      Great question. The answer is a tentative yes. I know that Coach Vigil used a lot of aqua running for Deena Kastor when building her up from collegiate mileage of 80s to his desired 110 plus miles per week. He did this by first integrating aqua running for extra workouts over and above her ground running to build strength and tolerance to the added workout stress before just adding on-the-road miles. Use time as your gauge instead of miles. But, almost anything I read in studies reflect higher efficacy in doing interval type aqua running to maintain or improve conditioning.

      • dan says:

        thanks again Dean. I’ve found this blog incredibly helpful and I’ve posted a link to your site on our club running site http://www.tynebridgeharriers.com . I’ve also authored a post on our web site about aqua running, and posted the link in the comments sections below the post. you deserve the publicity!

  107. Catherine says:

    Hi Coach Dean-

    I have been training for my first marathon and I just got diagnosed with a stress fracture in my hip…I only had 5 more weeks of training to go!! Obviously, I am bummed. I was given crutches and told not to walk on it for 6 weeks. I don’t want to lose what I have just spent the last 15 weeks training for. I have a gym with a pool and I would love to do pool jogging to stay fit until I can really run again. My problem is I just have no idea where to start. I know you talk about interval training, but I feel like I really need a structured plan. Do you think you could email me a pool running workout plan? I also bought some “aqua gloves”, should I use those too for upper body strength training?

  108. Janet says:

    Hello Coach Dean,
    I am finding your blog most interesting and informative. At the age of 50 and having always either ran or exercised at classes, now I’m unfit because I haven’t exercised for 2 years. I recently bought a Speedo flotation belt and headed off to the local gym but I have found that the water only comes up to my chest and that my feet touch the floor. I have visited this gym twice and I do worry if I will actually gain any benefit here or that I should use the public pool and get into deep water.

    Janet … England

    • Dean Hebert says:

      Janet,
      No problem at all. You can do aqua running in both deep water (where you float) or with feet touching bottom. Run laps instead of remaining in one place. You won’t need the flotation belt though I guess you could experiment to see if you can still use it. The point is that either way you can get great workouts done.

  109. Mark Hazlehurst says:

    Hi Coach Dean,

    You wrote your original blog 4 years ago and that it is still one of the best sources of advice and information on aqua running is a reflection of the quality of the thinking behind it.

    I have a calf injury which is threatening to keep me off the road for a few weeks in the run-up to my “A” race – a local half marathon. I have now completed a handful of water running sessions. These have been short (2 minutes to 5 minutes) intervals with total time in the water up to 45 minutes. Even being a novice at this form of exercise, I have been surprised at how effective they appear to be.

    However, I am still unsure how to deal with replacing long-runs. It seems clear that the most effective work-outs are hard effort intervals, but how realistic is it to stretch these to cover (say) 90 minutes, or longer? What’s the longest effective session you have heard of or would recommend?

    This is my 40th year as a runner so I have lots of experience and experimentation on training and what works for me as a runner. It’s quite different going back to trial and error!

    By the way, you mention that you are writing a book on this topic in an early post – any sign of this?

    I been going back over your whole site and have seen some very interesting articles. Thanks for sharing your insights

    Regards from England
    Mark

    • Dean Hebert says:

      Mark, thank you very much for dropping by and for your kind words.
      It’s funny that you mention the long run aspect of aqua running. Little seems to be actually researched on this aspect as much as the intervals. Must be more fun for the researchers and offers them fun data to manipulate I guess. That being said I have a couple inquiries from runners who are preparing for marathons and who indeed are doing their long runs in the pool: 90-120 minutes of steady state running. I’ve asked them to stay in touch with me so I can have at least anecdotal evidence of the efficacy to doing that kind of training in the pool.
      On the physiology end of it there is no reason that it shouldn’t be effective. It is neuromuscularly the same as running – and with resistance. That’s ideal.
      The drawbacks I see may be that your body will not be hardened to the gravity (pounding) once you get out on terra firma once again. You may be aerobically fit, neuromuscularly coordinated yet may not be able to jump out and run 20 miles on the ground due to the forces exerted on your lower body. For you and the half marathon I think there is a stronger case for endurance work than let’s say a marathoner or ultra marathoner. 13 is just more within that realm of possibility. I say go for it. It is my belief that it will help you greatly. And you don’t have to build up as slowly as you would on land because the risk of injury is far lower.

      I fully understand about trial and error in training. I’m in my 41st year and though I’ve studied the science and the techniques it’s still some experimentation – even as we age we cannot do what we once did.

      Yes, the book … like any project this one seems to be taking longer than I wish. However, indeed I am well into writing it. I hope for more anecdotal evidence to support just what you are inquiring about. I want to address this very aspect. So, maybe you will be one of those “data points” – stay in touch and tell me how it goes.

  110. Greg says:

    I share the opinion with Dean that by deep water running (DWR) the body will not be hardened enough for running on land because of the absence of ground reaction forces which causes different biomechanics. DWR workouts are of a neuromuscualr and cardiovascular nature but use leg muscles in quite a different way.
    While running on land, the legs use something that is known as the strength-shortening cycle to store and recover energy from ground reaction forces (GRF) to help propel the runner forward during the push-off phase of the gait cycle.
    On land to control the leg before and on impact there is quite a bit of eccentric (lengthening while contracting) muscle action present (i.e. hamstrings eccentrically decelerating lower leg, calf muscles eccentrically controlling dorsiflexion of the foot, …) which puts a lot of stress on muscles.
    In DWR there is no impact and consequently no GRF to be re-used. Eccentric stress on muscles is almost completely absent. The thigh has to be actively lifted by the hip flexors against the resistance of denser water. Hip extension will be more of a thrust backwards than a push-off.
    Practically this means, DWR is a great tool for cardiovascular and neuromuscular exercise during recovery from most running injuries. However, don’t expect to come out of the pool after 3 months of DWR and be able to run a marathon (or even a 10K). You will have to gradually re-build your running specific strength and harden your body for the stress of land running first.

  111. Ellen Bagnato says:

    I’ve enjoyed reading these posts about pool running. I’m a 3:09 marathoner and I very successfully rehabbed a metatarsal stress fracture (and a subsequent flare-up a year later) by pool running. Is it boring? Kind of. I have an inexpensive waterproof mp3 player that I bought from swimoutlet.com ($60) that works surprisingly well, so I have tunes while I’m running. I found that after about 12 weeks of pool running only (5-6x per week) using Pfitzinger’s 9-wk plan and then repeating the last 3 weeks of it, that when I got back on land (gradually, of course) my cardio fitness was still very good and my transition back was pretty easy. I used the layoff to continue working on my core (which pool running can also do if you do it with good form), and I continued to lift for my upper body.

    I looked at it this way: I could either hate it or embrace it, and since it was all I could do I was happy to have something. Interval training is the way to go, and I used a 180 strides per minute rate as my hard rate. The technique is pretty simple, but you have to visualize the movement coming from your hips, scissor-like. I would put a bottle of water on the poolside because I would really get thirsty as I counted. I had techniques for counting my strides, and I used a waterproof watch to keep my workouts orderly and so I could audit myself to see if I skipped any. 10 x 5 mins. hard will challenge you, believe me, but once you’ve done pool running interval workouts you will be stronger mentally for land running!

    • Dean Hebert says:

      Your advice and experience is great. Thank you so much for contributing. You are right about building the mental toughness too! Glad you’re coming back! I will be adding your comments to the book I’m writing on aqua running. Thank you.

  112. Babette says:

    Thanks so much for this article. I fractured my fibula and, not knowing it was a fracture, kept running( for three weeks) and got a stress fracture in my 3rd metatarsal. I run at my high school and due to my injury my team didn’t make it to state xc this year. I’d like to maintain though, I’m in a boot, I don’t think pool jogging would be bad for my fibula… Would it? Also, lap swim is very early where I live, so what is the minimal amount of days a week I could get away with running?

    • Dean Hebert says:

      Babette,
      I know how disappointing this is. But, your attitude in coming back is what is important now. Deep water aqua running should not be a problem at all. (As opposed to actually running in waist deep water with your feet on the pool surface.) The key is doing high quality repeats in the water and not just “jogging”. You should look at 3-4 days a week minimum. Hang in there.

  113. Gabriela says:

    Thanks for this great article; all the comments/replies are helpful too! I have been training for my first half-marathoon (race is Nov. 20), but 2 weeks ago had to stop running because my L4/L5 disc (which was previously a problem a few years ago) is acting up again – I get referred pain in my right front thigh, particuarly when I push off/land. I am working withy my physical therapist again, and have been able to walk (10 miles), do the elliptical, and swim (biking is out). I’d like to add pool running to the mix. My initial idea was to use it as my weekly long run. Prior to the injury, I was running 3x a week: two 5 milers and then the long run, which gained in distance by 1/2 mile a week, and doing one 60 min XT session (lap swims or spinning). Right now my long run should be about 10 miles, which is about 110 minutes of running for me (I’m slow!). After reading this page, am I right to think that spending the equivalent time pool-running is not the way to go? (I do have a waterproof mp3 player to ease the boredom). Or could I use it to sub for the weekly long run, given that I am still able to do elliptical/swim for shorter, higher intensity workouts? Do you have a sense of duration/number of intervals might stand in for a 10 miler? Many, many thanks!

    • Dean Hebert says:

      G –
      You have a good mix of exercises. I would recommend dropping swimming and doing aqua running instead if your goals are running improvement.
      You may be able to actually improve your overall conditioning by doing interval training. Why? You are doing too much steady state exercising. Your 5 milers and long run are too “similar” and exercise only certain energy systems in your body as a result. Ditto on other workouts.
      Equivalent water running may or may not be the way to go. One day maybe yes but the other days you need interval training. There is little research to support really long efforts in the pool BUT that doesn’t mean they aren’t good or are worthless. I have other runners doing just that.
      There is no real equivalent of intervals to long runs miles. They exercise different systems. One research tidbit though is that two RACED one miles are physiologically as beneficial to your VO2max and LT as a 10k steady state run.
      I would recommend 45 minutes with intervals of 1:00 hard and :30 easy after maybe 5:00 warm up and cool down. Do this twice a week. Then do a steady state longer workout. With the resistance of the water I personally do not believe you need 110 minutes. 60-75 should be plenty. In fact insert some interval efforts along the way.
      Good luck and stay in touch. I’d like to know how it goes.

      • Gabriela says:

        Thank you Dean! I will definitely let you know if this works. Since I’m a relatively new runner, all my runs (long/short) are pretty much at the same pace, so perhaps this injury will improve my condition, as you note, by doing intervals! I find that when I can do spinning routinely, I get in great shape quickly from all the tempo changes (but I can’t spin with the bad back).

    • Ellen Bagnato says:

      Hi Gabriela — I’ve rehabbed with pool running several times now, so I’ve had a lot of experience with this alternative to running on land. Here’s my two cents: I’d shoot for a longish workout that incorporated some sustained pool running at a comfortably hard pace, along with some harder intervals, to make a fatigue inducing workout, kind of like what your body would feel with a long run.

      I’d do a 90 minute total workout (or 110 minutes if you feel better about it). I would spend the first 20 minutes at a consistent pace that was taxing but not all out. The best way to do that is to test out a few “stroke counts” to see what is sustainable over 20 minutes. I work with about 150-160 per minute, broken into 75-80 per leg (I count 75 or 80 on the right leg, then switch legs in order to not lose count). Without counting I slow down without realizing it, so staying focused with counting is what I consider to be important in pool running. You’ll have to experiment with what is sustainable for you, just like speed is variable and relative for everyone running on land. It’s about relative effort, not a set number. Once you have a sustainable leg stroke and you’ve done that for the first 20 minutes, insert some intervals, or shorter bursts of faster leg strokes. So, do 10 x 1 minute hard. Maybe your leg stroke will go about by 5 or so during these harder intervals. I would then go back to your sustained leg stroke for 10-15 minutes, then finish up with some harder intervals again. This will better simulate the fatigue of a long run, where you may encounter hills at the end and have to dig deep, or where your body is just fatigued to carry on a pace. Essentially you’re getting a workout in a workout, which is something we often do on land anyway. You can get some good ideas for intervals if you google Pete Pfitzinger pool running plan. It’s a nine week plan but you can pull workouts from there (if you’re new to poll running I would use workouts from the first week or two). Have fun in the pool and good luck in your race!

  114. dan says:

    Hi Coach Dean
    I have just registered for my first marathon, which will take place mid 2012. I normally run 4 times a week with my club and specialise at 10k races but have been doing a few 16k also. Can you suggest how I can integrate aquarunning into my schedule to prepare me for the jump up to marathon? I know you’ve said Deena Kastor used aquarunning to build her base training without pounding the roads excessively. If it’ll work for me, I’m keen to use aquarunning as much as possible to reduce the mileage I need to run, especially as I don’t want to be picking up injuries in training. What do you suggest?
    With many thanks.
    Dan

    • Dean Hebert says:

      You should do 2-3 times a week of aqua running in addition to your surface running. Even do it right after a regular run to extend your time “running” without the pounding. And be sure to incorporate interval style work in the pool.

  115. Hannah says:

    After reading your input about aqua jogging, I found it very interesting and helpful. Like most of the other replys, I am an injured college runner. I am going crazy not being able to run. I am on my 3rd week out and most likely have stress fracture in my foot. I am willing to do anything I can to stay in “running” shape. I have been swimming, lifting, biking and aqua jogging as much as I can. I was hoping you could send me some of the hard workouts I can do in the pool. Thank you for you help!

  116. Gabriela says:

    Hi! Just wanted to share my experience with pool running as a follow-up to my earlier post. In early October I had to stop running in training for the Philly half-marathon (my first) because of a bulging L4/L5 disc, and I swapped in some pool running in the intervening weeks, I’d gotten up to 9 miles as my long run before I got hurt (the longest I’d ever run in my life). The race was 2 days ago, and I was able to run 80% of the race (I ran for 7 or 8 minutes, then walked 3 or 2 minutes, for the duration). I felt great, and though the longer walking intervals of course slowed my pace down from my already-pokey standard of about 11 min/mile, when I was running, I was able to run at that pace, despite not having run a step since October 5. I wasn’t too methodical about my pool workouts, and there were 2 weeks where I couldn’t work out at all b/c of the back, but I typically did two 45-50 minute pool workouts from the early stages of the Pfitzinger schedule – one with intervals of the same length, and one with a ladder where the intervals got longer. I feel like between pool running, lap swimming, and hour-long elliptical sessions, I stayed in good enough shape to finish the half very comfortably!! Thanks for your original post, & all the advice offered by you and others in the comments section.

  117. Christopher says:

    I am a 3 day a week Masters swimmer who took on running. I was training for the LA Marathon in a 9 minute mile pace group (including a minute walk) and my ankle was bothering me for about a week and then after the 14 mile run was in deep pain, quit running went to doctor and found out it was sprained. Also did a single visit to the PT and he gave me stretches and recommended Aqua Jogging. I have since done a few times a week for about two weeks.

    Two Questions.
    one: I don’t use a belt, I find that it feels more natural, is more difficult and then the belt doesn’t restrict my breathing. Is this okay?

    two: I don’t run in place, I run down the deep section of a long course pool, turn around at the end of the deep section and keep doing laps. I find it feels more like real running and keeps it less boring. Is this okay?

    I do try and watch my form. NEVER RUN WITH OPEN HANDS, keep my arms close to me running “elbow wrist” the whole time. My knees sometimes get a bit twisted but it is a momentary thing and I keep my body upright and straight as if I were running.

    Am I doing this right? I injured my ankle on November 4th and hope to be running again with the group by January 1st (will be slowing down my pace group, however).

    I also still swim. Thanks!

    • Dean Hebert says:

      Christopher,
      I assume that your feet are touching the bottom surface of the pool if you don’t use the waist belt and are basically doing “laps” running on the bottom. This is ok to do. If you use the float and run in place in deep water not touching the bottom – fine also. The studies on aqua running indicate that high intensity aqua running (interval-like) is where the benefit is. I cannot recall a specific study on other methods or forms of aqua running. Continuous steady-state running is something that has not been shown to be the critical element in conditioning or maintaining condition after an injury. High intensity intervals have been.

      As far as form goes – keep your body neutral and upright and resist a forward lean into the water. Move as natural and simulate your “normal” running form as best possible.

      Even with a severe sprain I’m surprised you are not running on hard ground yet! I had one runner with an extremely severe sprain who was jogging in about 6 weeks.

      • Christopher says:

        I run on the deep end of the pool, my feet do not touch the ground. My form feels pretty natural. It must be somewhat intense because I push myself the whole time and breathe fairly hard.
        My ankle still has some pain so I am staying off it. I did an aerobics class with my cousin over thanksgiving weekend and it hurt afterward. I don’t want to rush into running and then not be able to run long term.

  118. Grreg says:

    DWR (deep water running) is great. It is part of my normal training regimen (non-impact days). However, if you are using it as a substitute for land running, I would suggest you do some strength training along with it. – If your ankle can take it, that is. Perhaps you should ask your physiotherapist.

    Strength training would speed up your return to land running. Solely doing DWR you will inevitably lose some strength in running related muscles. I would suggest body weight exercises like squats, pistol squats, VMO dips, glute-bridges and perhaps lunges among others. Calf raises and dips would also be great but might put too much pressure on your ankle.

    • Dean Hebert says:

      Greg good suggestions for a real novice runner but actually the work done in studies has not indicated any need at all for additional strength training in order to maintain conditioning. But since most of these studies as well as anecdotal instances have been on fairly established runners. So, loss of strength really hasn’t been shown to happen IF DWR is done correctly – that is – interval-like training. If it is steady state running – regardless of effort – the effects have not been shown to maintain conditioning.

  119. Christopher Miles says:

    Hey Dean! My name is Chris and I am a high school cross country runner and track sprinter.
    Over the past month or so I have been working with Proforce, a sports performance training facility. I have had some small calf issues and some hip stability issues but they are getting better. However, just this morning, I think I might have pulled something on the left side of my back. It hurts to bend backwards at the moment.

    I guess my question is: With the track season starting in just one week, I wanted to be able to enter the season ahead of the pack but now it looks like I may be out. Should I take up aqua-running in the mean time to retain my fitness? If so, what kinds of workouts should a sprinter like me be doing? Thank you (:

    • Dean Hebert says:

      Chris,
      Yes aqua running will help for sure in maintaining all you worked hard for. Get your back some rest before doing anything that would bother it. I don’t think aqua running will bother it. I have other runners with back issues who have done it without issue.

  120. Tammy says:

    Hi Coach Dean,
    I’m rehabbing after a 2nd big ankle surgery and am still in a boot and am not able to do much on that ankle yet. As soon as it’s safe I plan to start aqua jogging. I’m 7 weeks out and have lost some muscle and fitness and hope to rebuild it as quickly as possible and get back to training. Will you send me information/booklet that you refer to in your above posts? I’d really appreciate it. I have no experience whatsoever with the water running and want to do it right and get the most out of it that I can.

    Thank you!

  121. Looking forward trying Aquajogging tonight at the pool. Thanks for the workout ideas. Cheers,

    Thomas

  122. Joe C says:

    Hi Dean -
    What a wealth of information in your blog. I’ve started water running recently to recover from a metatarsal stress fracture. I find that I can stay buoyant in deep water without a flotation device and without compromising form. Is this OK or is it still better to have a float? Also, I would love a copy of your workouts as I intend to be doing these workouts even after I recover. I am 44 and a sub-3 hour marathoner looking to stay that way at Boston this year.
    Thanks for your help and information,
    Joe

    • Dean Hebert says:

      Joe,
      If you can do it without compromising form… go for it. I even wonder if that may be a better workout forcing you to work harder. I’m not sure though about foot movement. Be sure it’s not “swimming-like” to stay up.. need to replicate true running motion.

  123. Scott says:

    I’m training for marathon and having knee issue, I think its my IT Band, could you email me a copy of the workout brochure you reference in other postings? I’m going to give aqua running a shot and hope to maintain my fitness level while I give my body a break.

  124. Janet Simmonds says:

    I have sustained a hamstring injury as well as other pelvic issues. It has been recommended to me to try pool running. Is it possible to get a copy of your program.

    Thanks so much,
    Janet

  125. Jeff Slevin says:

    While getting ready for the outdoor track season, my 14 year old daughter has been experiencing shin splints. I am interested in her reducing some of her road mileage by doing some pool running instead. Might you be able to email me the workouts that you have mentioned in a couple of posts.
    Thanks so much,
    Jeff

  126. Barb says:

    Just a note about finding aqua jogging boring. There are waterproof MP3 players on the market that make aqua jogging a lot of fun!! And, with the different tempos of various songs, it makes interval training easier.

  127. Rob says:

    Hi Dean,
    Enjoyed reading your blog and some great advice. I was unable to run from May to mid-July last summer due to an achilles problem, and used aqua running as an alternative. I tried to replicate interval sessions in the pool and actually ran faster in mid July over 1500 than I did in May. I would have expected to run even faster in July if training normally, but at least it shows that it is an effective training option. Unfortunately I am injured again and have returned to the pool. Is it possible for you to email me some workouts (800/1500 runner) to maybe introduce some variety into these sessions?

  128. Loraine says:

    This is a fantastic discussion. As an injury prone runner I have taken to the pool and came across this website when looking for structured pool running workouts? How can I get hold of the workout discussed here? Thanks.

  129. brokerunner says:

    Hi Dean, I am an editor at Competitor magazine and I am working on a story about water running. If you are interested in chatting about this please let me know. llogan@competitorgroup.com
    Thanks!

  130. chaddarby says:

    Hello, Can you email me a copy of the handout for Aqua Running? Thanks in advance.

  131. kihoffma says:

    Hi Coach – I just sustained a stress fracture in my foot while training. My ortho says no running 6-8 weeks but swimming and elliptical are fine. I’m interested in pool running and hope you can send me the workout referenced in earlier emails to sustain my fitness. thanks in advance!

  132. sarahschng says:

    Hi Dean, I have developed a severe muscle tear and haematoma in my right tibialis posterior muscle. It hurts a lot when I go up and down the stairs, and I get twinges of pain when I walk. I can’t run at all without intense pain and my right leg feels very weak and unstable if I try to hop on it. For some reason I don’t feel any pain when I use the stationary bike but I find it incredibly boring. I’ve stopped running for about 3 weeks now and was looking around for some other cross-training ideas when I stumbled across this fantastic article. Do you think it’s safe for me to pool run with a tear in that muscle? Or would the running motions aggravate it? Thanks.

    • Dean Hebert says:

      Sarah,
      It might be perfectly ok without the effects of gravity and hard surfaces – which is my guess. The only real way to find out is to try it. You should know right away!

  133. Barry Short says:

    Mr Hebert
    i would also love a copy of your workout sheet. I’m 50, currently training for a Boston Marathon qualifier in Oct and I’m sure this would help me. Much appreciated!

  134. cinthya says:

    Hi Hebert,
    I had a light discomfort after my long run in the back of my knee, in front and IT band. The day after a hilly half marathon, I could not walk without pain. I have been doing aqua jogging for about a week or so. I ran today and I feel very heavy and slow. My cardiovascular system is fine. I feel like I lost all my fitness in 10 days. Is this the way I should feel?
    I appreciate any feedback.
    Thanks.

    • Dean Hebert says:

      The way that aqua running helps is to do interval training NOT steady state running in the water. So, that could attribute to how you feel. It is normal to feel just a bit sluggish but not drastically so. If you did quality aqua workouts you should be able to get right to it on the hard ground… especially because it was only 1 week. That should never make you feel really bad.

  135. Hi, I just discovered your blog & love it! I’ve been a runner for 34 yrs (I’m a fit 59 yr old woman)., and struggled for 2 yrs with first a meniscus tear & scope, then patellar arthritis and had stem cell reinjection. My comeback has been challenging, and a work in progress. I’ve recently started one land-run/week (running 1 min out of 5 for 45 min) with no pain so far + DWR 2-3x/wk. I use the aquajogger belt, aquabells and aqua-leg attachments (that wrap around above the ankles and really work it. I find the bells really tone up my arms. What do you think about the leg attachments? They do seem to slow me down.
    I’d also love to have a copy of your DWR workouts!!! Thanks!

    • Dean Hebert says:

      As with all aqua running the motions are slower. They build strength and maintain cardio BUT it can reduce your on ground leg turnover because it’s training you to be neuromuscularly slow. The cure? Push hard when you do run on ground to regain the power and leg turnover.

  136. Chris says:

    Hi coach,
    Thanks so much for all of the info you’ve provided here. I am training for the NYC marathon which is about 6 weeks away now. I have also just been diagnosed with Flexor Hallucis Longus (FHL) Tenosynovitis and told to layoff running for a week while taking anti-inflammatories. Then to slowly get back into it. I am really anxious not to lose my conditioning and my training plan calls for a 30km long run this weekend as well as a 90 min tempo during the week. These are key marathon training sessions and I’m worried about missing them.

    My question is – can I just do these same workouts in the pool while aqua running? My plan indicates heart rate zones to aim for. Should I just monitor heart rate and aim for the same as the plan and then hold it for the same amount of time as my plan indicates? Ie. 90 mins, and approx 3 hrs? Or is this not beneficial and should I rather stick to shorter interval workouts in the pool?

    I’d really appreciate any advice that ensures I can maintain conditioning while letting the injury heal. Also, would you mind emailing me a copy of the workout plan you have been sending to others as well?

    Thanks so much !

    • Dean Hebert says:

      Yes, you can do these workouts while aqua running. But, HR is not the way to go to determine effort. Your HR will be lower in the water. Though an endurance workout is certainly in order as a marathoner, interval aqua running training pays the biggest dividends. This is what is MOST supported in the research. Though in practice I know many runners and coaches who use steady state longer efforts in their aquarunning workout plans. I’d replace the tempo run with an hour of Fartlek-like work. Be sure to go really hard on your “hard” efforts.

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  139. Fran says:

    I run high school xc and track and am off with a tibial stress fracture that is very slow to heal :(. I’ve been water running relatively regularly for the past 5 months and am terribly bored. I’m wondering, do you have any ideas about how to make water running more fun/interesting? (different workouts, etc.)

    Thanks!

  140. jim says:

    I am interested in the aqua running. I popped my hip out of socket. (horse wreck) So I started swimming for therapy. I am up to 1600 meters four times a week. but old bike injuries are showing up in my shoulders so I thought if I could run I could substitute some swimming time with running. I ran long distance 10 years and 60 pounds ago. Since gaining weight injuries are common. I now have flat feet and my achelies on one foot was injured, wearing orthotics for a year keeps the foot pain at bay. So here’s my question. The pool I have access to is 3 to 4.5 feet 25 meters should I wear aqua type shoes? what type if any? thanks

    • Dean Hebert says:

      Welcome back to getting fit again! You’re doing a smart thing by doing aqua running until you are strong enough to do more ground running. You will probably benefit from shoes. The bottom surface of pools can wear your skin down for sure. I know some runners actually wear an old pair of racing flats in the water. But there are commercial options:
      Aquajogger has sandals: I do not know anyone who has actually tried these unfortunately and so I can’t comment other than offer my thought that these appear fine IF they remain tight to the foot. You don’t want the shoe itself shifting.
      Aquatic shoes thought more expensive are the best bet: AQx has very well rated shoes and several to choose from.

  141. Michaela says:

    Hi there…

    I have been working out regularly on and off most of my adult life but more intensely for about the last 6 months (I’m 32). I am not a “runner” but I do run for cardio benefits. Sometimes on a treadmill and sometimes at home on our dirt road. I generally run 3x a week…2-4 miles when I go. I lift weights 5x a week.

    Last Sunday I ran at home; I live at 9,000 feet of elevation. I did 4 miles nonstop. (I normally do intervals) I sustained a stress fracture on my 5th metatarsal and cannot run for 6 weeks, so I decided to try aqua running for cardio benefits. I tried it today and did 30 minutes worth of intervals, from the shallow end to the deep end. It really kicked my ass…but didn’t hurt. I wasn’t using a belt. Is it possible to do this correctly without a buoyancy belt?

    Is this a good alternative for my running? I don’t particularly care where my cardio workout comes from, I just want to continue doing something. I was more wiped out from 30 minutes of aqua running today than when I do an 60 minute interval run. Is it okay to incorporate backstroke laps into my aqua running workout?

    Thanks!
    Michaela

    • Dean Hebert says:

      Bummer on the stress fracture!
      Keep up the intervals that’s the way to go. Belt or no belt is up to you. If you are getting a good workout then keep doing it. The belt is worn in the deep end for buoyancy. Just watch your running form that’s all.
      Mixing it up with some swimming is fine and good variety for you.

  142. Robyne says:

    Coach Dean – I’m an assistant coach for a xc high school team. This is the first year we’ve had the sport at our school and we have had a difficult time with injuries. We have unlimitied access to a pool and after reading some of your posts, it seems crazy not to take advantage of it. Would you send me some workouts to incorporate into our training schedule? I’m hoping to get my injured athletes able to participate in their regional and state meets. I would also like to use the pool next year in an attempt to head off the injury problem.
    I’ve been a big fan of the pool for a long time but I know that getting a really good work-out for an athlete that’s already in pretty good shape doesn’t just happen. I really appreciate your wisdom on this issue. Thanks!

    • Dean Hebert says:

      I love that you are willing to do what needs to be done to get your runners healthy while maintaining conditioning. My hat is off to you. I’d really like to hear your experiences with this in detail after the season is over. I am accumulating stories of those who use aqua running and their unique results for a book – and you using it on several runners or a whole team is AWESOME!

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  144. Dana says:

    Hi – an observation and a question -
    first of all, maintaining good running form is SO much about cadence that I worry people will misunderstand when you mention that cadence will drop in the pool. True, it’s much harder for me to keep up a minimal 85-90 rpm in the water (submersible iPod to the rescue!), but that doesn’t mean not doing it, it means working harder at it.
    My question is how you envision increasing intensity for intervals. Strictly pushing cadence (in which case the neuromuscular benefit to land running is minimal)? Wearing the flotation footies? Running without a flotation belt? Something else? It seems to me that water running is analogous to cycling on rollers. Really terrific for form, but not much resistance for more than a minimal cardio benefit. Yes?
    Thanks!

    • Dean Hebert says:

      Good point. Cadence will be less for any given effort in the pool since there is resistance. It would be like saying go run with a 10 pound weight vest on – to maintain any given speed will take far more effort and at some point you cannot go as fast with the vest on as without it. Same in water.
      Yes… increasing intensity means increased cadence. The neuromuscular response is not minimal however and that is why aqua-running is so great as cross training. The neuromuscular response is quite good. Going without a flotation belt certainly adds to difficulty – maintaining for is #1 however in doing so. The resistance is substantial from water and that is a real plus for aqua running. It is resistance in all planes specific to running (as opposed to weight lifting for example). If you add footwear – this adds drag – and therefore increases resistance and difficulty of workouts. Cardio benefit has also been shown to get excellent benefits in both trained and novice runners. This is why elite runners use it – because it even helps them. As for form – that is probably debatable though it certainly has the potential to improve form. The fact is that on dry ground you’ll have somewhat different form than in the water.

      • Dana says:

        Thanks! To be specific, the three areas where I really notice DWR helping my form on land are (1) with no footstrike, I’m able to consistently achieve better hip extension; (2) buoyancy and the belt help correct a bad habit I have of lumbar flexion, which is probably aggravated by running with a hydration vest; and (3) small side-to-side imbalances in my gait or arm swing are very apparent when I start pulling to one side or the other of the pool lane.

        Is there a minimum target or upper limit to the cadence that you try to get runners to achieve in the pool? Or is it just as fast as we can turn our legs over? (so far I can only do about 110 … working on it)

      • Dean Hebert says:

        Dana,
        Thanks for the pointers. To answer your question… no there isn’t any magic number. Keep pushing the pace as long as you maintain form.

  145. Joelle says:

    Hi Dr. Hebert,
    I have just been diagnosed with a stress fracture in my foot. I would really love it if you could send me a copy of the weekly pool run schedule you have made up. Great blog by the way. I am really hesitant in understanding how got the fracture in the first place. I think it may be because I switched from soft surfaces in warmer weather to roads this winter. I had a stress fracture many years ago, and it was caused by a bio mechanical issue that put pressure on my legs. That was corrected and I had no problems since! (Knock on wood!) If one were to do hard pool intervals 3 to 4 times a week, what would you suggest for the days in between? Would steady state spinning intervals be recommended? I cannot get access to a pool for water running more than 4 days non consecutively a week, so I need some ideas for training on the days I cannot water run.
    I know you have said swimming laps would not be as effective in getting the right training to come out of the water and back to land running.
    Thanks again,
    J Reid

  146. Dana says:

    What do you think about low intensity pool running during a marathon taper?

    • Dean Hebert says:

      Dana,
      If it feels good do it. But there really isn’t any other reason to do easy aqua running. During a taper your workouts should greatly increase intensity while dropping duration; your last two weeks might have only 4 and 3 runs in them respectively and all should be goal pace or high quality track workouts. So, high intensity would still rule in the taper even in water.

  147. Tom says:

    Hi Doc,
    My daughter diagnosed early last week with a stress fracture in 3rd metatarsal that likely occured a couple weeks ago. Sprinter (400m/200m) and hoping to maintain conditioning in hopes she could be back for end of season, so we tried Aquajogger belt for first time this weekend.
    As I’ve read here, we’ve tried to recreate land workouts using time instead of distance.
    Question regarding “form” when doing the “hard” portion of intervals…some videos show slight lean forward and more of a driving motion (like when starting from blocks) but have also seen some with more of a stride to maintain “normal” range of motion.
    What do you suggest as proper “form” to use for 400m sprinter?
    Thanks!

    • Dean Hebert says:

      This is an interesting question actually since most runners I deal with are distance folks. The colleges do use aqua running extensively though for sprinters too!

      1. A natural posture – more upright is desired in general.
      2. If you wanted to work on some strength that mimics coming out of blocks (first 30 meters or so) then a lean forward would be appropriate.
      3. If she can run on the bottom of the pool in chest deep or waist deep water using both postures I think she will get better results. So as soon as she can get away from the DWR I’d do it.
      4. Use both forms! They could both help a sprinter AND it could add variety to the workouts.

  148. Lee says:

    Coach, you’ve mentioned several times that you have emailed an aqua workout. Can I get it please?

  149. Moira says:

    Hi Doctor Herbert,
    I just came across this blog and have learned so much! I am training for my first triathlon which will take place in mid-July. I sprained my ankle last week and can not run for a while. I’ve been swimming at a local pool to maintain the swim training, and then read this blog on aqua running. Is aqua running an appropriate rehab for a sprained ankle? I’m 54 years old. I run for enjoyment and for staying fit. I no longer do distances. I would really like your feedback on whether it’s realistic for me to use aqua running to help me maintain some sort of training for the 5K portion of the triathlon.

    • Dean Hebert says:

      Absolutely you can use aqua running.. get on it… ASAP. If your sprain is severe you should start with DWR then move to chest deep and then waist deep water as you can put more weight on your ankle. Also, the water will be therapeutic (pressure) and allow gradual ankle flexion without the gravity/pounding. Since you are already in the pool doing your swim training… just integrate it as part of your workout – before during or after it. Whether you are a fitness runner or serious elite runner/triathlete aqua running is the ideal cross training.
      PS
      Thank you but I’m not a Doc….

      • Moira says:

        Thank you for your quick reply. Your knowledge of aqua running and rehab has been helpful to me. I should have called you Coach! Not sure if it’s a severe sprain. I am walking on it wrapped up and it seems to be healing. Thank you again – I feel a renewed sense of purpose! I’m off to the pool!

  150. Lisa in PA says:

    I am 44 and attempting to run a 5k in October. I am NOT an exercising person and about 50lbs overweight. I tried to start my training yesterday via an iphone app and made it 1/2 way through. I have pain in my right Achilles tendon. Everything else is fine. I have a 4.5 foot pool in my yard. Can I do the same training with my app in the pool as if I were running on my street? I was so disappointed in myself yesterday and I promised myself that even if I am in pain I will try again today. Thanks.

    • Dean Hebert says:

      Lisa,
      Aqua running will be the perfect exercise to get started. It reduces the pounding on your legs and joints while training you to run. I’ll assume you ran on hard ground for that first run. I don’t know what your app does so it’s difficult to say if you can or can’t use it. I don’t see why you couldn’t. BUT far more important here is that you listen to your body. You have to learn “good” pain from “bad” pain. Achilles tendons are nothing to mess with… trust me (all you have to do is read through my blog articles on Achilles). That sounds like bad pain because it is warning you that you are doing too much too soon. Aqua running may be just the thing to ease your way into running on hard surfaces. Good pain is the muscle fatigue you feel from working out. It’s not so much pain as it might be tightness, slight soreness or generalized achy feeling the next day after a good workout. The latter kind of pain is something you can work through… the former courts disaster.
      Stick to it. You’re doing a good thing!

      • Lisa in PA says:

        Thank you so much. I actually just got back from attempt #2, worked thru the pain and completed it! I am so tired lol. It is the c25k app that my friends had talked about. Yesterday I tried on a parking lot and then moved into a soccer field because the blacktop is so hot it was going thru my shoes and there were some shading trees there. Today I tried something different and ran thru my yard and the yard next to me for the minute lap and then came in the house in the A/C and took a sip of water during the 90 second walking parts( i walked the whole time inside). Felt good to be close to home and my dog could come with me and that made it fun. I hope coming into the a/c to walk around inside wasn’t cheating. I am SO HAPPY I can do the same thing in the pool. I will definitely make better use of my pool lazy time. I really want to succeed here. Thanks again!

  151. Lisa says:

    Hi, I have been following a running plan (pfitzinger & Douglas up to 55miles/per week) for my first full marathon in 9 weeks time (done HM’s 10k etc but never a full marathon), but unfortunately I have this week sustained a right tibial stress fracture which puts me out of the marathon. Really keen to maintain my fitness that I have worked hard to acheive over the last 2 years since starting endurance running. Stumbled across your blog and very pleased to read the article, have now ordered an aqua jogging belt and after seeing Physio this coming Monday am hoping that I can start aqua training. Would you be so kind to suggest a few pointers for me as I am desperate to rehab and get back out there running.

    • Dean Hebert says:

      Lisa,
      I’m sending it along by email.
      Your mileage is what is most likely the culprit here. A new marathoner should never run that many miles. Miles run is #1 indicator for injury. It was too much too soon. Just for comparison, I have 1st time marathoners running sub 4 hours on less than 40 miles a week. It’s WHAT you do with the miles not how many you run that is key. (Of course within reason)
      Get after the aqua running and you’ll not lose very much at all.
      When you are ready, drop me a line if you want a research based – effective ANd efficient running program developed for you.
      Thanks for dropping in. Let’s stay in touch.

  152. Alison says:

    Hi, I’m in week 11 of 18 of training for my first marathon (Chicago) and my knee has given out on me (runner’s knee) – I am supposed to be on my 17, 19, and 20 mile long runs and I can barely walk down a set of stairs. I’m determined not to give up running in October. Can you help? Willing to not leave the pool between now and then. Thank you!!

  153. Mary says:

    Hi Dean,
    I have been training for my first marathon – Bournemouth on 6th Oct – and developed a strain injury in my right knee. Being honest the knee pain was there when I did the 12 miler on my programme but it wasn’t until after the 18 mile run (completed in 2:50) that I have been really laid up. I have been resting the knee and doing core strength and elliptical workouts. My friend bought me the flotation belt and our Physio has suggested pool running. It is not common here in the uk and so I felt very self conscious when using the belt in the public pool near where I live. I wish I had been doing this activity throughout my training programme as I may have avoided the injury that I am now carrying. I will run another marathon as I know the 6th Oct will be an ordeal and whilst I aim to finish I know my time will be poor. Next time pool running will become a twice weekly feature of any training programme I embark upon and I will probably use it to replace one of the weekly road running activities.
    I have really enjoyed reading the posts and your excellent advice. Thank you.

    • Dean Hebert says:

      Well, you’re doing the right thing. And you’re right – may places this will seem a bit “odd”. But, you have the right attitude going forward. If it’s good enough for Olympic level runners then I think it’s good enough for us too! Keep it up!

  154. Dana says:

    Hello! I am an avid runner and am currently 6.5 months pregnant. I had been running 40 miles/week up until last week, when I managed to injure my hip/lower back suddenly during a run. I believe it’s my SI joint (which apparently can get out of whack more easily during pregnancy). It hurts any time I put weight on that side and I am still limping when I walk, so clearly I can’t get back to running yet, but I’m wondering if aquajogging would be suitable crosstraining while I’m recovery, or if this will just delay the healing process. Do you have any thoughts on this? Thanks!

    • Dean Hebert says:

      Sorry to hear about the injury. You’re obviously staying in good shape during the pregnancy so good for you. I’m not a doctor so your first go-to person is your doc. That being said I currently know someone doing aqua work with bulging disks (L-4 & L-5). That is far more severe than your injury most likely. If while doing deep water aqua running it doesn’t hurt to do so… then I’d say you are fine. If on the other hand, the movement itself hurts – I’d avoid it The basic rule is – if it hurts don’t do it. It it doesn’t hurt then you are most likely not causing further damage. Good luck.. and congrats!

      • Dana says:

        Thanks for the quick response! I got the go-ahead from my doc, and have been happily plodding along in the pool for the last few days with no further irritation of my SI joint. Adjusting the belt around my belly has been a bit of an amusing challenge, but I’m thrilled to have an aerobic activity I can do while my injury heals. :)

  155. Jordan says:

    Hi Dean,
    I crashed in a bike race a week ago and twisted my ankle enough for an avulsion fracture. I’m waiting to get a CT scan, which will help the orth. and me in terms of course of action. I’ve known about DWR for some time and I’ve been searching for instances of people using water running after ankle injuries. I see above that it can work well, but I wonder what you’ve seen in terms of how soon people get into the pool after injury. More specifically, have you heard of folks aqua jogging (DWR) a week or two after ankle fractures? I’ll certainly discuss this w/ my Dr., but just curious what you’re experience has been. Thanks very much.

    • Dean Hebert says:

      Jordan,
      Your doc is certainly the best answer. It will depend on the stability of the fracture, locatin, etc. For things like stress fractures it’s in the pool immediately. So it’ll depend on if the ankle movement jeopardizes or prolongs healing of the fracture. Wish I could be of more help. Good luck coming back!

  156. Deb says:

    I’ve been runng for 35 years (I’m 51) and over the last few years have begun long distance races. Have done a few half marathons and my first full in November. No past serious injuries. In recovering from the marathon over last week over the last week or so, I’ve developed severe low back pain. I can’t even run 20 mins on the treadmill now without back pain.Two questions: is aqua running ok for back pain? And, I need my endorphins and “high” from running! Can you get that same mood benefit from aqua running? Thanks!

    • Dean Hebert says:

      Deb,
      Aqua running is an ideal workout and method for recovery from hard training and marathon running. I cannot address too specifically your question on back pain – I’m not a doctor or physical therapist. I will use logic to say that usually with back pain if you can do range of motion without discomfort and alleviate the effects of gravity on us (like posture) you are doing something good… that means aqua running should be quite effective in keeping you active as you recover from your back issue. The key is to do exercises of any kind as long as it doesn’t hurt. If it hurts… don’t do it.

      The mood benefit thing is actually quite subjective. That is partly because if we do not like the activity the odds of the positive psychological effects are dimmed. Yes, the workouts themselves can generate positive chemical responses in your body. Harder workouts or longer workouts should generate those effects. The best way to find out if it is for you is to get out and try it out!

  157. Hi Dean,
    I’ve just read your very informative blog about aqua running and wondered if you could drop me an email. I’m the editor of Running fitness magazine and would love to discuss a feature with you on this very subject. My address is natasha.shiels@kelseypb.co.uk

    Thanks,

    Natasha

  158. Ben says:

    Great information. I’m recovering from a hip/labral tear surgery and aqua jogging was recommended by my therapist. About five weeks post-op I re-aggravated a chronic hamstring pull (while riding a stationary bike) that has bothered me for years. I’ve been nervous about aqua jogging, and the few times I’ve gone since I’ve slowed down my cadence, which seems to aggravate the hamstring. I read on another site today that it’s important to maintain a steady cadence while aqua jogging or you can risk a hamstring pull. So I guess I have two questions: 1) Is it safe to aqua jog with a hamstring pull? 2) Will maintaining a steady cadence with proper form keep the hamstring from getting aggravated? Aqua jogging has been great for my hip, so I would love to be able to do it while recovering.
    Thanks so much.

    • Dean Hebert says:

      Ben,
      Generally the answer is yes it is good for a hamstring pull. But don’t do it if it aggravates it. If so then you are only doing more damage. And yes form is very important to reinforce the right muscles to fire correctly and not reinforce bad body or form mechanics which may only lead you to problems when you return to dry land.
      I have not found that aqua running aggravates a hamstring pull when done within the limitations of your current body and then progress. Anything overdone can reinjure you. Steady cadence may be better to start out with BUT that has NOT been shown to be the best for training, or conditioning. So separate the two issues.

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