Aqua Jog


Experience From - John Thieme, Len DeMoss #1, Rebekah Trittipoe , Sue Norwood , Gary Griffin, Sue Norwood#2, Unknown, Dave Cooper , Ray Krolewicz , Derick , Scott McQueene , Sally , Karl King , Len DeMoss #2, Rock Cogar , Roy Morita , David Niemi , Geri Kilgariff , Alex Feldman , Byron & Joy Chikinda ,

John Thieme

Salwan wrote:

"...I'm curious to know if there are folks out there who incorporate water running (with a >belt, vest, etc.) as part of their regular training program (vs. only when hurt)... "
Judy and I have made water running aka aqua jogging part of our regular exercise program for the past 2+ years. We use it as a substitute for the "junk miles" that (I particularly) used to feed lactic acid craving and for weight control.

We aqua jog for 30 minutes 3 times a week on non running days. In the Summer we often use aqua jogging as the cool down portion of our evening running sessions.

Len DeMoss #1

In 1993, I had torn a meniscus in my right knee soon after running a 50 mile road race. I suffered thru it for several weeks before I went to an orthopedic surgeon. During this time, I had started water running in deep water, with an "Aqua Jogger" vest at the local YMCA with friends. One friend, also an ultra runner, and I would do our Sunday "long runs" of 5-6 hrs. in the pool, up and back, with a radio loudly playing and us chatting away. The only problem was bathroom breaks, so we put a large gallon jug in the accessories room so we didn't have to run all the way upstairs! I ran 5-6 times a week while I had that bad knee, and in April 93, (after an MRI showing the tear), I ran American River 50, finishing but in not a sterling time. It was the only "land running" I'd done in 4 months. I found that water running can certainly keep your fitness level during injury. I loved's boring, but then so is a long run by yourself sometimes.

Rebekah Trittipoe

I have been utilizing this form of cross-training for the last 5 years It started as a result of my many stress fractures. But now, I mix it in as an important component of my training. I am in the water 2-4 times per week - usually for 45 minutes although I have gone as long as 3 hours. I do it without a vest. This makes you run hard or you else you end up resembling submarine. I almost always warm up for 5 minutes, do very intense intervals for 20 minutes, followed by 10 minutes of intense kick board intervals and then another 10 minutes of hard intervals again. At no time do I touch the wall or bottom. Terrific training and totally nonimpact highly recommend it!

Sue Norwood

Joseph wrote:

"I'm curious to know if there are folks out there who incorporate water running (with a belt, vest, etc.) as part of their regular training program (vs. only when hurt); and, if so, how you set up your workouts. I've incorporated water running into my training for the past 10 years (3-4x/wk for 1-1 1/2 hr. per session). "
I've been "pool running" regularly since the mid-80's and use it primarily for cross-training but also to keep from going bonkers during occasional injuries (like ankle sprains and stress fractures) when I can't do any weight-bearing exercise. I've always used cheap "ski belts" (from a local sporting goods store or Overtons' boating catalog), which give me enough buoyancy stay afloat while I'm moving; I'd sink if I wasn't moving my arms and legs. I've never wanted to spend the money for a vest, and they look cumbersome to me.

How frequently I pool run, and how long each run lasts, are primarily determined by what pool is available to me and what its lap swimming days/hours are. I'd do more pool running if the pool I currently use had more generous hours. (I also belong to a large chain health club, but none of its pools in metro Atlanta have water deep enough for me to "run" without touching bottom; I want to keep it totally "no impact.")

I try to run at the pool at least twice a week for 40 minutes to an hour. Most of the time the pool runs are just a supplement to my running, and I don't try to do them very hard. I have trouble getting my heart rate up in the pool, even doing "tempo runs" or repeats. I've done more "speed work" in the pool when it's been my primary means of working out due to an injury. And I've used it for "long runs." Several years ago when I had a stress fracture in the fifth (outside) metatarsal of my foot and could do no weight-bearing exercise for fourteen loooooong weeks, not even recumbent cycling, I did several 3-4 hour pool runs to try to maintain a modicum of sanity and fitness - talk about a boring workout!!

I find pool running to be a good way to relax after a hard or long run, to add "running" miles with no impact, and to get in an upper-body workout (water resistance) that is different from weight machines. Pool/water/aqua running is useful in several ways, and it's fun to work out with the swimmers.

Gary Griffin

I've been water running since 1991 and feel as if I could do a commercial for it. Yes, it is boring, and even having a partner and/or a radio leaves something to be desired. The fact is: it works, as all of you have said, for staying fit while injured and as a replacement for "junk miles". I spent a month before the 1992 Pennar 40M in the pool twice a day while down with a knee injury, and had as good a run as I ever have at Pennar. In Joan Benoit's book she credits water running with her fitness following surgery on the eve of the Olympic marathon (maybe the trials...). All of the programs mentioned thus far have merit, but there's one other thing that I am a big believer in: for the day or two following a very intense run, nothing relieves the soreness and speeds healing like a brief (15 - 30 minutes is fine) run in the pool. The colder, the better ... with limitations, of course. Even here in Tallahassee (where I was in the pool yesterday a.m. and it was 26 degrees outside), it can get a tad nippy. Sure feels good when it is 105 in the summertime, though.

Sue Norwood #2

Mike Scovetta wrote:

"Exactly what is water running? (I assume you can do it different ways), but it is running with or without touching the bottom? (and if touching the bottom, then how deep should the water be?) "
I've never done it touching bottom, as I want it to be totally no-impact. Since I'm 5'9" tall, that means I need to be in a pool at least 5' deep or deeper (I have to lift my knees up higher in only 5'). The pool I'm using now is maybe 80' across the deep end; the water depth ranges from shoulder level to about 10' deep on the far (diving board) side. It's easiest to run when I'm in water 6' or deeper.

I use a motion with my arms and legs that is similar to running on terra firma, but my toes are pointed down more than they'd be doing "real" running. I have to stretch (to lengthen) my calves more after a pool run than after a run on land because of that position.

Whether I'm moving at a hard or an easy pace, it takes me about 5 min. to complete each out-and-back repeat (no, I don't know why that is). I use a narrow (~ 4") flexible plastic foam ski belt to give me enough buoyancy so I don't have to fight the water so hard. Rebekkah Trittipoe wrote that she doesn't use a flotation device; I think I'll try it that way next time. I could probably get my HR up higher.


I currently teach various deep water fitness classes. There are various people that come to our pool to water jog. And I incorporate this technique into my students workouts often. Yes, there are various flotation belts available. The two most common are Aquajogger and the Hydrofit system. If one is needing a steady resistance workout and has limited deep water space (you don't want to touch bottom to avoid impact!) try using a "tether" - an elastic cord with a snap on either end. One end is snapped to the back strap of your belt and the other is snapped to the rings that occur on the sides of pools to attach lap lines, or to any solid surface item such as the stair handrails. The tethers are about 3 feet long and stretch. Try jogging to the resistance point of the tether and remaining there in a jog. You can also incorporate a "cross-country skiing" motion (hands polling front to back, legs "skiing" equal distance front to back) increasing intensity by maintaining full range of motion and pushing the legs through.

Always be aware of your posture - as this protects from back injuries whether on the tether or not. A good posture reminder is "head over shoulders over hips" in a relaxed neutral position with the shoulders back and chin up - not facing down watching your feet. For more intensity in your run - aim the thumbs up and pull the slightly cupped hand down and toward your hips.

You may find it hard to achieve a high heart rate - this is partly due to the temperature of the water. In most lap/competitive pools the temp. is no higher than 82 degrees. The cool water cools the blood and the pressure of the water on the body both keep the heart rate lower. It is not that the heart is not working and the body not being challenged - it is the environment in which you are in. Yes, you can raise the heart rate - and these tethers should really help! I feel strongly that water is an excellent training environment and there is so much to learn!

Dave Cooper

Ok, just when I thought I was going to get off guilt free about not being able to exercise someone had to go and bring up pool running. Now I am feeling guilty again. So I guess I need to know what this is all about.

Ray Krolewicz

Way back in 1983, in the week I had between 2 six day races I grabbed a water ski life vest and jumped in the lake and stayed there. Water training does not replace running, but for an injured runner it is the next best thing best. a couple of my better performances were done with lots of water running to supplement, and recover from the pounding of some high mileage I did once upon a time. Yes it works.


If you use heart rate to determine intensity you can mimic running on land as far as your aerobic system is concerned. you can use either a life vest or one of the many waist belts designed for pool running. I like deep water running better than running in chest deep water with your feet hitting the bottom. you can act like you're running more if you're floating because if not you're trying to propel yourself forwards in a very different way than you are used to give it a try and if you hate it then you can not feel guilty about not exercising.

or you could just swim in the stupid pool

Scott McQueene

Derick wrote:

"If you use heart rate to determine intensity you can mimic running on land as far as your aerobic system is concerned."
If you use a heart rate monitor in the pool while you Aqua jog you will notice a drastic difference in your heart rate even at the most strenuous level of exercise. I found mine read at least 20 bpm lower.

It is a good tool to use in the pool because it's easy to slack off after a few hours of counting pool tiles. The heart rate monitor kept me honest. I did regular workouts along with speed sessions while rehabilitating from Achilles tendinitis.


I've had bursitis in my heel for about 3 months and I promised myself after Pikes Peak no more running till the heel quit hurting. I've been swimming (boring) and biking (cold cold cold) and finally decided to try pool running.

you can either use floating dumbbells under your arms or preferably an Aqua Belt which goes around the waist and keeps one buoyant. you don't touch the bottom of the pool which means you either need a deep pool, a tether to keep you in place or you run in a tight circle within the lane (I was stuck with this option). it's important to maintain an upright posture with the forward pelvic tilt and then use your arms, simulate a push off with your feet, go for a long stride. you'll feel it, in your calves, your hamstrings and your quads. I usually go for an hour minimum but find it less boring than a one mile swim.

it ain't running, but sometimes you just take what you can get...

Karl King

I've done a fair amount of this some years back when I had some injury problems and found it to be useful.

I bought an out-of-season Personal Flotation Device for $25 and went to the local pool. My typical session was 45 minutes, after lifting weights. It didn't seem to burn a lot of calories. It helped my form a lot. Water provides quite a resistance and it shows you real fast where your motion is not efficient. My "speed" seemed to be better after pool running. I suspect that was a function of form improvement, not muscle training. As for endurance, a 45 minute session is too short for much endurance improvement. However, if you already have your endurance work in, shorter workouts will maintain it for quite some time compared to sitting on your butt waiting for things to get better.

One thing that seems to suffer with relaxed trail running is stride length. I think the pool is a great place to work on a long stride motion. At least there are no rocks or roots to trip over.

The coolness of the water will keep your heart rate down, so it wont feel like you're working hard at all. When you get out of the water and feel normal gravity again, you'll know that it wasn't all play.

Some people find pool running very boring. After a hectic day at work, I used it as a way to mentally relax, turning the simplicity into a useful feature.

Len DeMoss #2

Dave, I am a big advocate of deep water pool running when injury prevents me from running outdoors. I had a knee problem in December. 92 after the KY. 50 miler and was unable to run on firm surface for almost 3 months (only to find out it was a torn meniscus in the cartiledge) and was able to run and finish American River 50 in April, 93. Ok, so it wasn't a great time or a PR, but I did finish. Course when I got home, the my orthopedic surgeon gave me the results of the MRI and that I had to have it scoped.

But I did finish and I attribute it only to the pool running. I had a friend and we would do 4 hr. runs in the YMCA pool on a Sunday afternoon. Put headphones on and would do intervals and race each other. You can make your own fun. And we also used the Aqua Jogger vests.

Rock Cogar

As a triathlete and an ultrarunner I have a slightly different perspective than most of the list members on pool running. The following items are not meant to criticize pool runners, but are simply observations.

One in a while when I am at the pool hammering out intervals with the other tri geeks, I will see runners doing pool running. It always seems that (based on breathing noises) that the pool runners are not working nearly as hard as the triathletes doing 100s and such. I just have to wonder which workout is more effective.

My other observation is that if I have a running injury or am in the middle of a long taper / recovery (for a long trail ultra), hard swimming and hard indoor biking seem to help maintain my running fitness level.

Roy Morita

While a friend of mine was doing some pool running (without any floatation device), a girl came up to him and asked if he was trying to learn how to swim. It really hurt his ego.

Be careful out there.

David Niemi

I know of a couple of people who due to injuries did a lot of their training (equivalent long runs) for their first marathon pool running. About the only thing that you miss is the pounding that your skeletal system undergoes during the long runs.

Geri Kilgariff

I found water running to be excellent cross training for running when injured. Using the belt got too easy, so I went without, and THAT was a real kick ass workout. I swam for years and it never contributed to my running the way water running did.

Alex Feldman

I am in a sort of permanent state of injury, it's just a question of how acute things are at any given time. So I've done a lot of pool running, in deep water with a flotation vest. I hate it. But in my experience it works for maintaining conditioning, but only if I do intervals, and after 30 minutes of intervals I am beat. I recommend 10x2 min., 5x4 min, or 4x5 min. with one or two minute recovery in between. I can't get my heart rate up very much, but I can get very tired legs in a half hour this way, but I have to work very hard, and it isn't even remotely relaxing.

I've heard that Ann Trason spends hours at a time doing pool running, so I guess she would not agree with my observation.

Byron & Joy Chikinda

We do water running as a great cross trainer. I hated doing 2-3 hours ... very boring. Then we tried doing the following. DO a 5 minute warm up and then do 45 second interval of hard running and then 15 seconds of easy. Do this for 50 minutes and then a 5 minute cool down. This is a hard work out! Most pools have those big pacing clocks on the wall so you can time your self. I find it hard to keep up a hard pace and the 45 seconds intervals allows you to get the heart rate up.