So, do you like the water? Do you love to workout? Then why not hop in the pool? No, I am not talking about your traditional swimming here..I am talking about “AQUA JOGGING”, “POOL RUNNING” or as a friend of mine likes to call it, “POGGING” (that’s a combination or Jogging and Pool).
Aqua jogging has been around for quite sometime and was first introduced as a form of physical therapy. When the word aqua jogging is brought up, most people think of a group of swimsuit clad grandmothers, splashing around in the pool as a form of exercise that will not break a hip 😉
But, more and more, athletes, coaches and personal trainers are starting to see the benefits of aqua jogging to be more than just a way to rehab during an injury. Over the years, there has been many studies done on the benefits of aqua jogging. It has been proven, that an athlete (in these cases, runners) can maintain and or improve their fitness, by doing nothing but aqua jogging alone. In many cases, the injured runner will spend several weeks in the pool, come back to land running and immediately PR after several weeks of intensive aqua jogging.
Personally, I had heard of aqua jogging a few times in my life, but never gave much thought about it. Then, during a recent “web surfing” search for ways to cross-train while injured, I came across many articles discussing the benefits of aqua jogging.
I mentioned this to my friend and training partner, Rob Hunter, and he said that his former coach would have his high school track and cross country teams get in the pool a few times per week. He said that it was a great training tool and that he had forgotten all about it until I brought it up. He said he even had an aqua jogging belt, sitting at home in his closet somewhere.
So, the next day, Rob purchased a 2nd jogging belt and the both of us headed to the pool to try our hand at aqua jogging. The instant I put on the belt and hopped into the deep end of the pool, I was in love. After a few short minutes in the pool, I could feel my muscles loosening up and the cool water had a very soothing and relaxing affect on my legs. I also realized, that contrary to popular belief, you CAN get the heart rate escalated and the breathing can become taxed if you put in a bit of effort.
After this first session in the pool, I figured that since I would be running the Boston Marathon the next week, I would just use the aqua jogging as a way to taper and stay off the roads. So, that week, I did 5 hours total, aqua jogging in the pool. By the time I left for Boston, my hips, and legs were feeling more refreshed than they ever have leading up to a race.
Then, after Boston, the next day in fact. I returned to the pool and continued aqua jogging the remainder of the week. My legs recovered very quickly and any of the residual soreness/stiffness of a marathon, was gone by Thursday (I ran the Boston on Monday).
So you are saying, “Ok, it works great for recovery, but what about maintaining or building fitness”??? So, here is my answer for that question!
Since the Boston Marathon (and actually since one week after the Shamrock on March 18th), I have only been averaging about 30 miles of actual running and have been putting in about 6 hours of aqua jogging/swimming each week.
This past Monday, I easily ran the fastest track speedwork session that I have ran in over 10 years. After completing 6 x 400m’s at mile race pace, 8 x 200m’s at sub mile race pace..I was still able to run a relaxed 5:08 mile..then ran an all out 400m, with Ben Riley, in 63 seconds to finish the workout.
So is the aqua jogging working for me? I would say it is!
Aside from being able to maintain our fitness and recover better between workouts, Rob and I (my fellow mad scientist training partner) have both noticed a huge change in our muscle definition and our body fat (aqua jogging burns about 5 calories more per minute than running). We have only been in the pool going on 4 weeks now and we have both dropped body fat, weight and have both seen significant changes in our muscle development. In addition to, we have also drastically improved our flexibility and are noticing that we are less sore between workouts and that we are able to recover at a much faster rate than what we were prior to getting in the pool.
To pass the time and mix it up, Rob and I vary our workouts in the pool. Some days, we just get in the deep end with our flotation belts and do something equivalent to a long “steady state” or “long run”. Other days, we will do a combination of deep water running and shallow water running..these are the days that simulate “tempo” or “speedwork”. At the end of each workout, we will also spend 15-20 minutes doing a dynamic stretching routine (in the water). In the pool, we pay close attention to our form and breathing and are constantly working on improving both.
Here is a sample week of what I have been doing:
Monday – 60-90 minutes aqua jogging / Speed workout on the track (6-8 miles)
Tuesday – 60-90 minutes aqua jogging / Easy recovery run in the park (6-8 miles)
Wednesday – 60-90 minutes aqua jogging / Core/Strengthening workout at Trashmore
Thursday – 60-90 minutes aqua jogging / Intense hill workout at tempo pace (Trashmore)
Friday – 60-90 minutes aqua jogging
Saturday – High Intensity Long Run (currently 10-12 miles)
Sunday – 120-180 minutes Long aqua jogging session
So, as you can see, I am only doing 4 runs per week, but am spending a lot of time in the pool. On the days that say 60-90 minutes aqua jogging..usually that means I will do 30 minutes of mixed stroke swimming and then will do an additional 60 minutes of aqua jogging.
Now I am not saying that aqua jogging should completely take over in place of your running. But, I believe that it should be incorporated into every training plan, for every runner. I believe aqua jogging can be particularly useful for those returning from an injury, those coming off a high mileage training cycle, those tapering for or recovering from a recent race. I also believe it to be very beneficial during the days that it might be extremely hot and or humid out.
To start with, replace one or two of your “easy” or “recovery” runs with the same time spent in the pool. Then, as you get accustomed to aqua jogging, either increase the amount of time in the pool, or increase the frequency of trips to the pool.
In conclusion, will aqua jogging have you breaking world records? Probably not. But, will it compliment and help your running..will it aide flexibility, strengthen weak musles and improve recovery time ? For sure!!
So what are you waiting for? Get wet and get fit!!!
Below are a few good links on the benefits of aqua jogging.