Sample Aqua Jogging Workouts
Before we get started with specific workouts, it’s important to realize that elevating your heart rate in the pool will be more difficult than when running on dry land. Since your cells are 65 to 95% water, blood circulates better when submerged, which means your heart does not need to pump as hard to circulate oxygen. So, the benefits from pool running must come from a constant, steady effort or intervals.
Definitions Of Terms
Rest = No jogging, just rest in the water
Easy = 65-75% of maximum heart rate, or a typical easy/recovery run effort
Medium = 87-92% of maximum heart rate, a comfortably hard tempo run effort
Hard = 95-100% of maximum heart rate, all-out sprints
Easy Pool Running
Easy pool running should only be used as warmup for harder workouts, a recovery tool between hard workouts, or to simulate longer training runs.
You can perform easy pool running just like you would perform easy running on dry land. There is nothing fancy about it. You should try to maintain a heart rate that is 65-75% of your maximum heart rate.
Medium Effort Workouts
1. 10 minutes easy warmup, 1:00 hard, 30 seconds easy, 1:30 hard, 30 seconds easy, 2:00 hard, 30 seconds easy (continue building up until 5:00, and then come back down by 30 second intervals), 10 minutes easy cooldown
2. 10 minutes easy warmup, 1:00 medium effort, 1:00 sprint, 30 seconds with your hands in the air (keep moving your legs in the running motion, but put your hands above your head), 1:00 rest. Repeat this series 10-15 times. 10 minutes easy cooldown.
3. 10 minutes easy warmup, 30-second sprint, 30 seconds medium, 30-second sprint, 30 seconds medium – 30 seconds rest. Repeat 12-15 times, 10 minutes easy cooldown.
4. 10 minutes easy warmup, 10 seconds medium, 10-second sprint, 10 seconds easy, 20 seconds medium, 20-second sprint, 20 seconds easy, 30-second medium, 30-second sprint, 30 seconds easy. Repeat up to 70 seconds and then back down. 10 minutes easy cooldown.
One of the difficulties of cross-training is replicating those truly lung-busting, challenging workouts. In the pool, I’ve actually found a nice trick to help make pool running as hard as any track workout you might perform on land. If you’re going to be pool running due to injury or limited training volume, invest in a bungee cord designed for sprinters.
Tie one end of the resistance band to a sturdy object (pole, lifeguard stand, pool ladder) and bring the other end into the water with you. Put the strap around your waist and begin to aqua jog away from your starting point. You’ll begin to notice the bungee tighten and resist against you (depending on the length of your pool, you may need to wrap the bungee around the supporting object or tie it in knots to make it shorter to feel resistance).
Spend a few moments testing yourself to see how far you can pull the bungee. This is a great challenge and a fun way to compete with yourself during an otherwise (admittedly) boring cross-training activity.
Finally, pick a point on the pool wall or side of the pool that you feel stretches the bungee to a very hard sprint that you could maintain for 60-90 seconds. This will be your “sprint” marker that you’ll use on sprint intervals. Likewise, find a point that feels like the end of a hard tempo run. Mark this spot as your “medium” interval distance. Now, when you complete the hard workouts, you can use these reference points to ensure that you maintain a very hard effort.
1. 10 minutes easy warmup, 90 seconds easy (slowly moving out and stretching the bungee), 2 minutes medium, 1-minute sprint, 1 minute rest (let the bungee pull you back – this is kind of fun). Repeat 10 times. 10-minute easy cooldown.
2. 10 minutes easy warmup, 90 seconds easy, 5 minutes medium (focus and concentrate, just like during the hard part of a race), 30-second sprint, 2 minutes rest. Repeat 4 times. 10 minutes easy cooldown.
3. 10 minutes easy warmup 90 seconds easy, 2-minute sprint, 90 seconds rest. Repeat 12 times. 10-minute easy cooldown.
I guarantee that with the bungee, you’ll get your heart rate through the roof. You can challenge yourself and make aqua jogging more fun by seeing how long you can stay at your maximum stretched distance or seeing how far you can push it. Likewise, if you have a friend who is injured (or someone willing to be a good sport) you can try pulling each other across the pool for some competitive fun.
Cross-training can be tough, especially when you’re injured or want to be increasing your volume faster. However, I hope that providing a variety of workouts, a fun challenge in the pool, and a little science about the benefits of aqua jogging will help you emerge from your injury with minimal fitness loss.