What Pool Running Workouts Help Runners Stay In Shape When Injured

As a wonderful addition to many pool running workout posts, I thought it would be useful to make a post on how to structure workouts when you are confined to a pool for an extended period of time. And if you can, listen to my Coming Back from Injury Podcast Series while you are going to and from the pool. 🙂

This post will only help you maintain fitness if you use the correct form, once you get that down, you can begin to add intensity.

As I mentioned, you can mimic your on land workouts, if you have a set schedule from your coach, I would just reduce the recovery.

In the pool you never really need more than 90 seconds recovery, and if your repeats are under 3 minutes, I would use only 30 seconds if possible.

How often should I workout hard when pool running or aqua jogging?

The pool reduces your body weight by up to 90%, which means that the impact and stress on your body is significantly reduced.

ou can therefore do harder workouts more often than you would on land.

I found that I could do up to four hard workouts per week (including a “long run”). I would make half of your pool workouts hard. If you only run 2-3 days per week, make them all hard.

Unfortunately, as boring as it is, you need to ensure you keep your long run going throughout your training cycle.

Once a week, you need to pool run for 1hour 15 mins -2 hours…..once I did 2 hours and 20 minutes…..now THAT was crazy!

How do you make pool running or aqua jogging harder?

To increase the intensity to the level it needs to be, you need to pump your arms back and forth faster, and drive your legs against the resistance of the water.

Make sure you keep the full cycle for your legs; people often end up doing high knees when they increase the intensity, which does not mimic running…..and is nowhere near as effective.

Refer to my prior post for correct technique.

How to structure workouts for pool running or aqua jogging

The repeats should be kept relatively short, as you will be able to maintain intensity at the level required for it to be effective. It is very easy to slow down if you do not keep reminding yourself to keep it up.

A 20 minute repeat is not the best idea, as you will struggle to keep the intensity.

I would therefore keep repeats to 1-5 minutes, just lots of them!

How long should recovery be between intervals of pool running or aqua jogging?

Keep recovery between 30 second and one minute.

Your heart rate will return to normal much faster than it would on land. Even though this may not seem like much, it will be enough.

Pool run slowly or tread water.

Can I pool run without the belt?

If you find that you have not had enough of a tough workout, remove the belt for your last repeat, but you MUST be able to maintain form, and be prepared that your mouth will barely be out of the water.

I would not recommend it until you have been pool running for at least a few weeks.

You WILL be able to get a good enough workout with the belt if you do it right.

Removing the belt just adds an intensity that can mimic the end of a race. However, you must maintain form and not just flail around!

What does a week of pool running while injured look like?

This is an example of pool running training for a 5-10K runner, who usually runs 50-60 miles per week.

Make non workout days as long (time wise) as you would normally run for. Add/reduce the time based on your land workouts.

Sunday– 90 minutes (last 30 minutes increase the intensity to reasonably hard)
Monday– 50 minutes
Tuesday– 20 minutes warm up easy pool running, 4-5 x 5 Minutes repeats with 1 minute recovery between, 15 minutes easy cool down pool running
Wednesday- 50 minutes
Thursday– 20 minutes easy warm up, 20 x 1 minute with 30 seconds recovery between, 20 minutes easy cool down
Friday– 15 minutes warm up, 3, 4, 6, 4, 3, 2, 1, 15 minute cool down
Saturday– 50 minutes or rest

What other pool running workouts will keep me in shape?

Each of these should be completed after a 20 minute warmup (or whatever your usual warm up time would be), and a cool down slightly less than the warm up.

I would recommend keeping the workout total time over an hour to maintain volume and intensity.

You can increase the number of repeats if you are training for a half/full marathon, again keeping the “hard” volume the same in minutes as you would have on land.

  • 20 minutes tempo
  • 4,5,6,5,4 (1 minute recovery)
  • 2×12 minutes (1 minute recovery)
  • 10×2 minutes (30 seconds recovery)
  • 1,2,3,4,5,4,3,2,1 (1 minute for 1-3, 90 seconds for 4-5)
  • 4 mins, 2 mins x4 (1 minute after 4 mins, 30 seconds after 2 mins)

Final note:

I am not going to lie to you and pretend pool running is great fun, it really isn’t.

Pool running is mind numbingly boring, and it requires A LOT more concentration than running; you cannot zone out and enjoy the scenery while doing this. I would recommend spending a good deal of time visualizing your return to running, which I talk about in this video or you can read this article.

However, I promise if you stick with it, the results will show through, and it will be worth it!

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cross training, injured, pool running

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  • I'm not a huge swimmer, but these seems like awesome workouts. Im sure everyone who does swim will be quite pleased.

  • pool workouts saved my running!! they are crucial and so good for the body, agreed!

  • I agree that pool running is what you make of it. If you easily “jog” then it's not going to save your fitness but using it at the same intensity can do wonders. Great post.

  • Thank you so much for posting this and the original pool running article, Tina. I’m dealing with a potential stress fracture leading up to Chicago and will try these out to keep myself in aerobic shape! Thanks again!

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