Deep water running– aka Aqua Jogging– is something I’ve known about for many years. I’ve only recently tried it myself as an integral part of my fitness program. Let me save you some time: if you live in a hot climate, you should really find a way to work deep water running in to your training.
By mimicing the mechanics of running but eliminating the impact, deep water running is one of the best forms of injury rehab for runners as well as being a great easy/recovery run day while marathon training. But I was curious about whether I would feel like I got a good workout, or would it be like paddling around the pool? (In which case, my time would be better spent by swimming.)
I bought an AquaJogger Active belt and put it on. At first I was concerned that I should have bought the women’s belt, as I had to cinch mine as tight as it would go to fit around my waist. Once I got in the pool, the belt stayed right where it was supposed to, and I was off and running.
I was surprised by how easy it was to get a comfortable running motion in the water. Immediately, I felt my hamstrings working hard. This was a good thing! I spent about 10 minutes running easy, then did 10 minutes of 1 minute easy and 1 minute hard, and finished with 5 minutes easy. I didn’t want to overdo it the first day. I did a bit of stretching on the pool steps to close my workout, and I’m glad I did– I was still a bit sore the next day.
The next time I got in the pool, I cut my warm up down to 5 minutes and did 20 minutes of intervals. I kept a 5 minute cool down. Again, I stretched my hamstrings, quads, and outer hips before getting out of the pool. Though I was decidedly less sore the day after, I still felt like I’d gotten a good workout.
I’ve continued to incorporate deep water running into my weekly workouts. I am for a 30 minute session– any more and I get bored– where I include intervals for the bulk of the workout. I use Rate of Perceived Exertion to monitor my efforts, though the intensity of my breath is really a good enough measurement of whether I’m running easy or hard. I often work up a sweat even while in the water.
I haven’t yet been able to get my cadence (number of footfalls) up to the recommended range of 70-75/minute, even when I’m running a hard interval. I don’t know whether that is because my natural cadence even while on land is slower or I could use a little more study of my technique. At this point, so long as I feel I’ve put in a good effort, am breathing hard, and am tired at the end of the workout, that is good enough for me.
Most people I know who live in hot, humid climates dread training through the summer. I am no exception. I’ve found, though, that deep water running in the comfort of my own backyard swimming pool is rather enjoyable. I can close my eyes, settle into my breathing pattern, and run. Finding the zen-like zone of peace is never something I’ve done while running in the Austin summer heat before.
Many YMCAs offer deep water running classes. If you don’t have a pool yourself, look into taking a class. AquaJogger is the leader in deep water running equipment. There are lots of useful exercises, workouts, and articles on their website. If you’re interested in learning more– check it out.
Good health and great happiness to you!