Water Training – aka Aqua-jogging & Aqua-running

This is the first of several posts on information gathered at the USATF Podium Education Project in Las Vegas. Like last year, this was a conference with coaches and scientists/researchers of the best of the best – Olympic level athletes. My goal is to share some data and information as well as share some practical considerations for age group, youth and masters athletes.

Over the past recent years aqua-running has gained attention a lot of attention. The current terms used interchangeably are aquatic training or water training. Not all attention to this method of training has been positive. There have been a number of disparaging articles and blog comments to this training approach. It was even labeled as a “fad” by one post I read.

Well, I’m here to tell you, it’s no fad! This is becoming an integral part of elite training programs. It’s a who’s who on runners currently using water training as part of their overall development. One especially notable runner: Lornah Kiplagat has trained 3-5 times a week this way for the past 2 years in addition to her terra firma running (she set the 10 mile and 20K WRs during this time). The 2006 NCAA cross-country champion did water training. An NCAA champion sprinter set conference records while training 30-40% of time in water. In chatting with some of the college coaches attending, most use water training for distance runners as well as sprinters. One coach uses it extensively for sprinters (through 400 meters) during winter indoor season because the hard turns on indoor tracks beat runners up so much.

Here are some tidbits on water training the researchers (biomechanists and physiologists) are finding.

First, why use it in the first place? Water functions to assist, resist and support your body as you workout. Water being 800 times more dense than air provides great resistance training. Running on land is far more traumatic and due to gravity will expose weaknesses in technique, muscle group imbalances, etc. Therefore, too much – to soon land running gets runners injured faster.

You can do water training in any depth of water. Waist deep water yields approximately one half your body weight. Chest deep yields 70-80% of body weight; and deep water (up to chin with buoyant device) is 90% (not 100%) off your weight.

Just like with any training, you must allow your body to adjust and “learn” how to run in water correctly. It will use some lesser used muscles differently. So, build up slowly.

However, the critical focal point has to be on technique and range of motion (ROM) of your legs.
Hold head in neutral position.
Hold your body in a slight forward lean – just as in running.
Arms swing in natural way lightly hold hands in fist – don’t paddle in water.
Do not do short abbreviated strides. Do not use a choppy – “high knee running” (HKR) sewing machine like – up-down stride (like running in place stride).
You must focus on a complete cycle (ROM) of your legs that matches your running form. Focus on stretching out and do not fully extend your forward leg (just like in running – it never moves to full straight position). Bring your foot through and follow through backwards. This is especially hard in waist high water or less as we tend to shorten our strides. Therefore, they generally advocate deep water running (DWR) most of the time (feet do not touch bottom).

It is critical to maintain posture like running. Do not lean forward too much. This seems to be an issue with waist floats. AQx has designed both shoes and a body suit to ameliorate this problem.

Perceived effort for water workouts is HIGHER than land workouts. This is on the perceived exertion scales used. They are 1-3 points higher on the 20 point scale.

Heart rates are LOWER by 10-15 beats per minute at MAXIMAL exertions. Despite this the cardiac output is the same due to stroke volume increase. HR is the same at sub-maximal exertions – 60-65% of VO2max.

Stride rates are slower in water. To replicate the effort of a stride rate of 82 on land you would run with a stride rate of 49-53 in DWR. The “fastest” workouts would be done at 70-90% of land stride rates.

Water training includes plyometric workouts which include bounding, skipping, jump squats, speed drills in shallow water. Just try jumping straight up in waist deep water!

Though workouts can be conducted with and without shoes, wearing shoes provides additional resistance. This is especially important since the resistance is at the end of the lever (your leg… it’s a physics thing). There are aquatic shoes specifically designed for this. They provide 20-30% more resistance compared to barefoot running!

Some research conclusions:
“Recovery running in water is WAY underrated.”
It is evident that the addition of water running decreases incidents of injuries.
It is evident that it increases strength, power, dynamic flexibility, coordination and endurance.
[Note: This answers a question posed to me in the past – YES it can improve conditioning and it is not just for off-season or injury rehab any more!]
It is good to combine land-based workouts with water workouts (i.e. at the end of a run – hit the pool for hard water intervals).
Water training is not just for rehab any more… it is for PREhab too!

The bottom-line is that water training looks like it is not only here to stay but will become an increasingly larger part of training programs for elite runners as coaches try to find ways to increase workouts and intensity without getting them injured. My perspective is that if it is good enough for Olympic and world record setting athletes, it’s good enough for me… and YOU!


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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50 Responses to Water Training – aka Aqua-jogging & Aqua-running

  1. Pingback: Electromuscular Stimulation and Performance Improvement I « The Running World According to Dean

  2. wendi says:

    could you send me your workouts you mention? i am a middle distance runner (actually, 400/800/1500) with pretty severe hamstring tendinosis and now recovering from a few tears. I’d like to come out in racing shape–it’s that time–so i need the good interval work. also, i expect that i will need to devote a few days to the pool and off the roads and track if i want to stay in this sport. I am usually a 45 mile per week girl with 2 or so long hard track sessions.

  3. Tony DiSalvo says:

    Coach Dean, I’m a 51 year old master sprinter 100- 400. Looking for some coaching/ workouts for deep water training. Please contact me with your fee structure. Hope to hear back.

    Kind Regards,


  4. dave whitehead says:

    Hi Dean , i am training for the chicago marathon in october, biggest long run was 12 miles , then i tore my calf, that was about 10 weeks ago , i have tried running since a couple of times and my calf goes again, so i have decided to lay off road running until the event in 4-5 weeks , hopefully calf will heal with physio etc, I tried aqua running today for 1 hr, intervals of 2 mins hard and 30 secs recovery, i quite enjoyed it, i knew i had a workout, i will try heart rate monitor tomorrow, to judge if i am going hard enough, what i am really asking is it possible to build upto 3hrs in the pool interval training , and be able to run the marathon , i know it would be a struggle, i have done 4 marathons before, also could i train upto a few days before the marathon , any idvice or a if you give me some guidance with a training plan that would be most helpful , regards Dave

    • Dean Hebert says:

      That is a tough injury but you’re doing the right thing.
      The fact that you could tolerate an hour of aqua running is great.. it’s not for everyone. You did the right approach.
      You will feel it as a workout but the pounding isn’t there. As for HR remember that it won’t be even close to the same as HR when running. There are a number of physiological reasons that I won’t go into. So, I would advise to go by perceived effort instead. A number of studies on exercise show this to be quite accurate.
      3 hours would be a long time but – who says you couldn’t do it? I would really like to hear from you on how this works out. I’ll drop you a line.

  5. Lynn says:

    How best to replicate a 20 mile run w/out running? I can’t image 3+ hours in a pool. Will 1.5 hrs on Elliptical and 1.5 in pool work? Should I do a steady pool run (just like a land long distance run) or intervals? FYI- I’m recovering from posterior tibial tendonitis

    • Dean Hebert says:

      3 hours in the pool running is enough to drive anyone over the edge. All cross training is good at this point for you. However, there is no better exercise for running than… running (and any form of it – which means aqua running).
      It’s a neuromuscular specific thing.
      Intervals have been shown to be far more effective at maintaining or enhancing conditioning than steady state “runs”.
      Forget the 20 miler and get going on 6-7 days a week of interval training in the pool. Because it is easy on your joints and provides resistance you gain strength without beating your body up and so you can do this multiple days in a row unlike trying to do intervals on the track every day.

  6. Amy Shohet says:

    Hi Dean-
    I was training for a marathon with high hopes of a PR when I got a superficial posterior tibial stress fracture from shin splints and edema. I decided to drop out of the marathon (it was a month away) and shoot for one in a few months. For the time being I am not supposed to run for 3-6 weeks (it has been 2 and I am already going a little nuts). The only form of exercise that feels ok is deep water aqua jogging. Is it possible for me to keep some of my fitness with aqua jogging so when I start to train again on land it won’t be totally like going back to square one? I am following a schedule by Pfitzinger which is a lot of interval training. Amy

    • Dean Hebert says:

      The answer is a resounding YES you can maintain a lot of your conditioning but only through high intensity interval like work with aqua running. I’ll send you a handout on this. Please stay in touch. I really want to know how it goes for you. I am looking for stories in a book I’m writing on aqua running.

      • Zophanie Vazquez-Howard says:

        Hi Dean
        I am running a marathon 10 days time and have been maintaing my fitness by swimming and yoga as I have a shin splint and running agravates it. Would it be possible for you to send me your handout for aqua jogging as I have just started this but am a novice.

        Many thanks Zophanie

  7. Roy says:

    Hi Dean,

    I been doing Aqua running to maintain my conditioning since hurting my ankle in December. I have few marathons and ultra coming up in February. Would like to hear from you and get some pointers on whether I am doing the aqua running correctly.

  8. charsh says:

    Hi Dean,
    great advice on Aqua running . I have medial shin pain, and a 20 mile cross county race comming up in 3 weeks. I have only been injured for 3 weeks and I have been told I can cross train/run on land when no pain, though I want to avoid too much land running. I started trying Aqua running but would be really greatful of any intervals handouts, from you which from what I am reading is the key. It is to soon for me to know if Aqua will help keep my fitness level up, but already the psychological benefits are there.

  9. sarahtate says:

    Thanks for the above advice! I dance and run and ended up with severe shin splints in the early fall. I’ve had three rounds of prolotherapy and am just starting aqua running. My end goal after recovery is to get over 90 on the Army PT test. Do you have any advice about posture or how to work on gaining back my cardio and muscle that I’ve lost over the past six months in a reasonable and healthy fashion (and preferably as quick as possible!)?


    • Dean Hebert says:

      Interestingly, I have had a couple other runners who also danced (one professionally the other in competitions). I think some forms of dancing are harder on the lower legs than running is.

      Posture for aqua running is to mimic your running – generally upright – no lean forward or back.

      The great news about aqua running since it removes gravitational pounding is that there isn’t AS MUCH a limitation to getting going. You don’t need as gradual a ramp up in time working out. So, after a week of daily sessions of getting the feel – get it going.

      Be sure to integrate high quality interval type training into your workouts not just a steady state “run”. You’ll progress.
      You should also be doing strength training to remediate weaknesses as well as get you ready for the PT test.
      Good luck!

  10. Dean,

    Thank you so much for all the helpful information on aqua running. I did deep water running without a vest when I had a stress fracture in high school and was able to maintain fitness. I was wondering if you could email me your workout handout, as I would like to start aqua jogging again now to prevent injury. Thanks!

  11. Gavin Brown says:


    I am running Dublin marathon. I am starting to do Aqua jogging, but it does not seem to havem uch of an imapct on cardio. I am running to water justbelow chest level. Arms as per my normal running technique. Trying to keep form. Will this benifit. I am cursed with shin splints. Was hoping to do 3.20 mara. I would love tips. How do you increase intensity? I would love the information you have sent to interval hand outs

    • Dean Hebert says:

      Intensity is gained only through very intense interval training NOT steady state water-running (like a long run). Also if you are gauging your “cardio” by heart rate – forget it. Your HR will ALWAYS be lower than what it is on dry land.

      • Brent Barbee says:

        Hi Dean,

        Will the HR during pool running at “easy pace” effort be lower than HR during an easy pace run (e.g., 8:30–9:00 minutes/mile) on land? I ask because in your article you say that the pool running HR is only higher than what it would be if running on land for MAXIMAL efforts, and that for less than maximal efforts the HR in the pool same as the HR would be during the same effort on land. I am confused by that assertion, because I have been under the impression that the pressure of the water on the body reduces the HR while in the pool at any level of effort (in other words, one should add 10–15 bpm to one’s measured HR in the pool to compute the calorie cost, even for “easy pace” efforts). Thanks for any clarification you can provide!

      • Dean Hebert says:

        Sorry for any confusion. Basically your HR will always be lower in water for same efforts on land. That is why really pushing it in the water is an important element (intervals) in maintaining conditioning as opposed to just a steady state workout all the time. I don’t know of a specific translation or formula to say “add X bpm” to equal some land effort/pace. Just know you have to work harder. Hope this helps.

      • Brent Barbee says:

        Thank you, Dean! What I’m trying to do is figure out whether I should add anything to my raw measured HR while pool running for purposes of calculating my calorie burn—or if I should do the calories calculation using the raw, unmodified HR measured during my pool run. Do you have any insight on that?

      • Dean Hebert says:

        Good question. My intuition is that though the HR is lower in water it doesn’t mean you’re not working as hard given the same effort/pace. You know you are working hard against water (resistance) so that certainly means calorie burn… even if it doesn’t show up in the HR. HR is an indirect way to calculate calories. The conservative measure would be to take the “artificially” lower HR and know you are in actuality during slightly more than that. I think the difference – even in an hour long workout is just not going to be significant – maybe 70-10 calories???? (Just guessing here.)

      • Brent Barbee says:

        Thanks, Dean. Yes, I had been thinking of simply using the “artificially lower” HR measurement as-is, with the understanding that I probably actually burned more calories than it indicates. However, I feel like the difference can be significant enough to matter. For example, if I do a 1.5 hour pool run with a raw (unmodified) average HR measurement of 115 bpm, I compute a caloric cost of 680 kcal. However, if I use the guideline of adding 10 bpm to the raw HR measurement to obtain the “actual” effort, and instead use an HR of 115 + 10 = 125 bpm in my calculations, I obtain 816 kcal — a difference of 136 kcal. Over the course of a week that would add up to a difference of about 950 kcal, and that difference would grow to about 3800 kcal after a month. I feel like that’s enough to matter. And, the difference would be even more significant if the corrective factor is actually larger than 10 bpm.

      • Dean Hebert says:

        Though the math you pose is right the thing to remember is that calorie expenditure by way of HR is only an estimate in the first place. It may actually be higher or lower at any given effort or workout. The fact is you could possibly be burning MORE than your estimates instead of less. Unless you have a controlled laboratory assessment to verify your rate of calorie expenditure – it’s just an estimate. On an objective scale – if you gain weight (all other things being equal) then you are probably expending less calories than calculated and if you maintain weight you’re probably pretty accurate and if you gain weight then your not expending them as expected. In your scenario above – at the end of one month you will gain one pound (3500kcal/pound).

      • Brent Barbee says:

        Thanks, Dean. I agree, the kcal equations based on HR are merely estimates, and I have not had a laboratory assessment performed on myself. I suppose it’s also worth considering that the kcal content of foods is also only an estimate (when such data is even available for food), and we can’t always know exactly what our bodies are going to do with all the kcal we ingest anyhow.

        I do indeed keep a daily log of my body weight, and I check my body composition once per month. I have in fact noticed a bit of weight gain recently, around a couple of pounds, and that is part of the reason why I renewed my investigation of pool running HR. I have been doing a lot of pool running for the past few weeks because I am healing up an Achilles tendon strain and haven’t been able to run on land. Even though I could see the weight creeping up in my logs, I allowed it to continue because I’ve read that gaining a bit of weight during injury recovery can actually improve healing, and the small amount of weight gained tends to come off quickly when normal training resumes.

        Over the past few days I have focused more on my pool running form and effort, and found that I can consistently achieve nearly the same raw measured HR in the pool as I do on land (for both easy efforts and workouts), so from now on I am just going to use the raw HR measurement during pool runs to compute the estimated caloric cost. I’ll also be sure that when pool running I keep my raw measured HR in the same general range as it would be during land running.

        With that as my new adopted baseline procedure for pool running, I can continue adjusting my food intake based on weight gain/loss, as you pointed out.

  12. Janet says:

    Hi Dean,
    Just wanted to share my recent experience of aqua jogging.
    I recently put a tear in my Plantar Fasciitis ( under the arch of my left foot). I was in the process of training for the 63.3k Challenge 3 halves in 3 months(2 off road one on road). The tear happened on my second training run after the first half. I was gutted. I was banned from road running by my physio. I kept my cardio fitness up on cross trainers and spin bikes and did aqua jogging. When I was aqua jogging I simulated the amount of time I would have normally road run and did the same amount of time in the pool. My longest sessions were 2 hours. I went on to complete the two other halves with no on road training. I ran reasonable times and had no problem with my level of endurance, yay!

    • Dean Hebert says:

      Nicely done. How often did you spin? What kind of cross training did you do? Could you tell me more about your aqua running – time, efforts, frequency? Was it all in deep water?

      Thanks for dropping by!

      • Janet says:

        Hi Dean,
        Apologies for the late reply. I did spin three times a week, My aqua jogging I generally did after I’d done spin. My shortest aqua jogging session would be 50 minutes and the longest 2 hours. Once i’d done my stretches I would start slowly. During the first ten minutes I would run backwards as well as forward for a few lengths to help with warming up. I would vary my speeds for a few lengths at a time once I was warmed up. I wore a rash suit over my togs so I could clip my ipod shuffle onto the neck part of my rash suit. Definately helped having my running music to aqua jog to 🙂 As with on road running my mileage would have increased toward the end of a training week so my time in the pool did the same. I crossed trained with Les Mills Body Pump and Body Balance. My training week would consist of 3x Spin followed by aqua jogging(Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday), 2xPump (Monday & Wednesday) and Friday I’d do Balance. I’d have the quieter day on the Friday because my longer session in the pool were always on a Saturday. AS would your longer on road training on the weekend. The depth of the water I was jogging in was upper rib height. Thanks for taking an interest 🙂

      • Dean Hebert says:

        Excellent – thanks for the feedback.

  13. Katie says:

    Hello Dean, I am a high school cross country runner who is getting over plantar fasciitis and tendonitis in my foot, and have been aqua jogging for the past week. I have been doing interval training everyday, but I was hoping you could tell me a good workout to increase my endurance? I understand that a lot of the shorter intervals would help with speed, but what kind of workout would mimic a long run sort of workout? Thanks!

    • Dean Hebert says:

      You’re on the right track. First, even your interval workouts should be 45 minutes or longer. So, if you are working out less than that you aren’t going to have much of a chance to improve endurance regardless of the type of workout. Next, change one of your workouts just slightly by making it a Fartlek workout. Change to different paces – different efforts every 30 seconds to a minute or even 2 minutes and do this continuously for an hour or so… you’ll KEEP what endurance you have. But remember, that aqua running alone has not been shown to greatly increase endurance by itself. Only in combination with regular running does it appear that you will improve endurance. That being said, even interval work done correctly has positive affects on your endurance. Something to be clear on – interval training in water will not directly help your speed. It will MAINTAIN conditioning very well and it will enhance some strength due to the resistance. But since you move much slower in water – even intervals – it won’t make you move fast on land. Only by moving fast do we move fast (sounds weird but that is the essence of the science). Keep it up.

  14. Tonya Porter says:

    Hi Dean,
    In July I was sidelined by 2 tendon tears and a ligament tear, one of which being my plantar fascia on my right foot. Up until then I had been a runner for about 3 yrs. It wasn’t until my last run in July where it hurt too much that I decided to get the foot checked out. (after about 9 mths of pain) After the MRI confirmed the worst I was put in a CAM boot and taken off work and weight bearing activities. Most exercising was out of the question, even the pool for 3 months. After going through most of the conservative routes to heal my worst tear, the plantar fascia, I was told to see a surgeon. I had my PF release surgery done on 10/5/12. I have recently gone back to work (4 hr shifts) and I’m back in normal shoes (good tennis shoes) however still limping and not pain free at all. Due to my gait my surgeon thinks I may be developing a stress fracture because of pain on the top part of my foot, so back to PT I go. Anyway… sorry for rambling. I was very distraught over the “no runnning” and now it could be spring before I can run again so I have recently taken up water jogging. Our Y’s pool is great for it. I’ve done it a few times and after reading your article and your responses to others posts I’ve learned quite a lot. I need to spend more time in the pool and I need to be doing more interval training in the pool. I wear an aqua belt and I am in deep water. I use weights or the water weight occasionally and I can tell they work. I also do Body Pump and the bike, the elliptical causes too much discomfort for me right now as well. I’m hoping and I can loose the almost 20lbs I’ve put on and not loose anymore of my running endurance I fought so hard to get. I was looking at other items to use while aqua jogging and I see ankle weights, do you recommend those? Thanks for the site and for listening!

    • Dean Hebert says:

      Total bummer. I guess the good side is that at least you can do aqua-running. As for ankle weights – I don’t have any strong feelings about them. They will add resistance BUT remember, it will also greatly slow your stride which is already sluggish in water. So, you’ll gain some strength from resistance, might gain a bit on aerobic conditioning (though I have NOT seen or read anything that really substantiates that)… but the trade off is that you will be training your legs to “run” slow. That means you not only will in some ways get less of a workout (since most research supports high intensity intervals) it will make you probably quite a bit more sluggish when you do transition to dry ground.

      But, for variety once in awhile – not a steady dose – might be just the thing for you. This may be especially true in your case since it’s been so long since you have run and most likely have lost muscle strength, tone and power. Usually stress fractures heal in 6-8 weeks. Keep doing what you’re doing and Spring will be here before you know it.

  15. Jo Anne Barnes says:

    I’ve enjoyed reading your posts and would love to receive your handout on aqua running. Because of a knee injury, I recently ran a disappointing marathon. I’ve registered for the Louisiana Marathon in January and hope to train for it with less stress on the knee. I’m currently running in shallow water for an hour, including some intense water aerobics to keep the heart rate up–pylometrics and runnung intervals. Thank you!

  16. Sheila b says:

    Hi. All the above posts have given me hope. I have run several marathons and constantly in training. I was training for the LA marathon in March but sustained a calcaneal stress fracture from running on a wrong shoe (why did I change my shoes after 22 years?). I got diagnosed and got treated early being in the medical field myself. I have been in a boot for 5 weeks, off weight bearing exercises. I would appreciate if you send me your handout as I am still hoping I should be fit enough to run with my 2 friends I’m training for their first marathon! Thank you!

  17. Yolanda says:

    Hi Dean,
    I can give a big thumbs up for aqua running. My son was 9 when he ran a 5K in 20 minutes and he is exceptionally small. Then we found out he has very old fractures in his spine due to Spina Bifida Occulta and we were told no more running, just swimming. After back rehab and core-strengthening of over a year he was very hungry to run again. So I took his 1500m training programme and took his times and did my own aqua running in deep water with him 3 x a week. It wasn’t enough to make him competitive, he just kept up. I increased the training to twice a day (mornings and evenings) 5 x a week. This seems to be much better and he won his first championship last week – 1200m. Reading your blog, in time I think I’ll increase his training time in the water by doing more sets of his interval training, at the moment we do one set but more regularly. Our sets last between 10 minutes and 20 minutes max at the moment but the results are there, and he is still only 11. I focus a lot on muscle lengthening by stretching a lot after a session, and only a bit before – this helps keep his back and hammies supple so that he runs completely painfree when on land. What he struggles to focus on is keeping his posture in the water correct, and I find he is losing his rythm when he races on land as it is different in the water. For the posture we’ve dropped the aqua belt and he runs without it, I find he keeps his legs and body more in the correct position then, but he needs to work a lot harder then. But for the rythm I’m still struggling to find a solution. Any advice on how we can better this or anything else I’m doing?

    • Dean Hebert says:

      You are doing good thing.. keep it up. If by rhythm you mean the pace of his leg turnover in the water coupled with a smoothness you could try this. There are small portable electronic metronomes that you can set the cadence. I use this with my runners to get them to the 180 rate on ground. (You won’t hit that with the resistance of water.) The metronome gives an audible beep at the cadence or rhythm you set. This will keep the focus continuously on being smooth and not letting up. Each stride will coincide with the beat.
      (Drop me a line on how it goes. BTW where are you from?)

      • Yolanda says:

        Thanks, we have a metronome that I bought with my Chi Running book, didn’t think of using it. Will give it a try. I’m from Port Elizabeth in South Africa, where Iron Man South Africa is every April.

  18. Hi Dean
    I’m a Pilates teacher, shallow and deep aqua instructor, studio instructor and sports and remedial massage therapist. In a nut shell I know a lot of things! I also compete in triathlons sprint – middle distance. One thing I hadn’t done was a marathon so I got training….. and out of the blue I had a LCL injury 11 weeks from the VLM. I continue biking (run tempo mimicked on the bike) and swimming but the twice I’ve tried a long run my knee hasn’t been happy. I’ve loved reading your article and the comments which really give me hope of doing the VLM in April but just wondered what your advice would be as to how long to DWR (as it is this week 2.5hrs). You have mentioned doing interval training instead of replicating the long run but I must admit I find it hard to trust that a shorter interval workout will suffice for a long run as it’s “hours on your feet” and endurance. Could you help to please put my mind at rest and also let me have guidance as to how long I should interval train for to replicate the 2.5hrs.

    Has anyone out there just replicated the long runs in DW and gone on to complete the marathon. Did you get road running before the event and if so how many weeks and miles. I am hoping that after another week or 2’s recovery I can just pick up the road-running mileage as per the programme.

    many thanks

    • Dean Hebert says:

      The interval training doesn’t “replace” a long distance workout. Interval workouts have been found to maintain and improve conditioning. Endurance is endurance… if you never achieved it… there is nothing to “maintain”. You’ll need some long sessions for sure.
      That being said I know of no one who has ONLY done DWR and then run a marathon. So, since it looks like your time off will be minimal (couple weeks) do the DWR with intervals and throw in a long one or two while you’re off your feet. Use it as some of your workouts as you transition to ground running again. Drop me a line on how it goes.

      • Thanks Dean for taking time out to reply. That’s what I thought but think I got a bit confused with reading the comments! Still in 2 minds whether to test my knee out tomorrow on a long run but can always switch to DWR if it’s not happy. So pleased you are promoting DW as I find so many conditioned people think that it’s for older people but when they get in the pool and do a 45 workout and see that 65 year old speeding past them then they change their mind!!!

  19. DEAN HEBERT says:

    Lorna – why not do part of your “long run” on the ground and part in DWR? Until you are sure how your knee will react… you can still get great workouts in without pushing the envelope to injury.

  20. judy says:

    very informative and gives me hope., i tore my calf muscle ( 2nd deg tear) 4 weeks ago jumping a creek on a training bush run. i’ve been pool walking for past 3 wks and have increased it to jogging every 2nd lap, i’m at pool from 45 -60min, initially twice a day but now once a day over past 2 wks. i am also doing core and upper body work with weights at gym 3 times a wk. i’m hoping to run a 12km road run 16th june. i had to cancel my first ultra 50km bush run for early may, but will go for it again next year,.
    i have a aqua belt to try out next week at pool. any feedback would be appreciated ..

  21. Erik says:

    Hi Dean,
    I broke my foot on 8-9-2013. The Dr called it the Jones fracture. I am very concerned that I will not be ready for the Chicago Marathon on 10-13-2013 this year, he has put me in a aircast for 4 weeks to see how well my body will respond, I have been spending my time on upper body workouts and core. Everybody tell me to deep water running will help in my cardio. I have already ran 16miles before getting hurt so this weekend would of been 18 miles and going to miss it. What workouts in the pool will simulate 18 miles, Do you have a 5-6 week workout for 18-22 miles for the weeks I will miss? Most likely I will miss a total of 5-6 weeks of running and didn’t want to lose all that cardio. I do understand that I must ease back in the training and this year won’t be a PR when I run the marathon. When I do ease back into running how should i approach the miles that I have missed on the road.


  22. Yolanda says:

    Hi Dean,
    Yolanda here again from South Africa. I wrote before regarding my son’s rythm in the water. Well the metronome is working really well for us. Thanks for that advice. He is already 12 now, achieved provincial colours in South Africa in 4 sports this year, and is keeping up the water running. Our frequency is 6 sessions a week of between 40-50 minutes now, and 2 sessions on land a week.
    What more can I do in the water to increase his speed for the 800 and 1500m runs? Any advice will help.
    To put you in the picture of what we are doing at the moment: We mainly do interval and fartlek type sessions in the water as he struggles to stay interested to do long static runs, so I try and make it fun with different combinations. That keeps him going. We don’t work on distance in the pool, but on time. If I work with laps he tends to use his arms more to go forward faster, by using time he is able to focus on keeping his arms in the correct position because it’s not about getting to the end of the lane as quickly as possible. Our intervals range from short sprints (10s flat-out sprint, 10 rest), to long sprints (2min, 1min rest) – he cannot hold a longer than 2 min sprint yet. I also work up and down starting with 10s with 10s rest and adding 5 seconds after each ie., 15, 20, 25 up to 2 min, and then back again, and then up again – for about 40 to 50 minutes, with a 5 min rest in the middle.

    • Dean Hebert says:

      You are doing great work and using it all exactly how you should both for the types of intervals and for the variety to keep interest. Well done and I think the results are speaking for themselves!
      Now about TRUE legs speed. That is the one downside to aquarunning. Due to the resistance you cannot duplicate the actual frequency in the non-resistant environment on flat ground/track. You will build strength and conditioning but true – actual speed will best be developed by on land training and with downhill – “overspeed” training.
      BTW you do not need to add more time to his longer workouts… he is right where he should be. Focus on those shorter all out efforts.
      Stay in touch!

      • Yolanda says:

        Thanks, do I understand the downhill overspeed training as actually running downhill, like you would train hills running uphill? If so, what distances do you suggest the overspeed run is 100s (or shorter or further)?

  23. jon says:

    while qua running i do a modify breathing body scan and i subscribe to the kobut method it sure helps the boring part it is all about visualization . iam 70 and do 10 k everyday thaks i love it.

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