Four Lessons Learned While Aqua Jogging

You know how most runners consider the term “jogger” an insult? Now I know why. I spent the two weeks leading up to my first marathon in eight years, truly jogging…in a pool.

Perhaps like me, you have read about the benefits of aqua jogging for injured runners, but have you actually tried it? A few surprising things happened when I did.

Lesson One: Humility

If you’re lucky enough to have access to a pool and an aqua belt or pool weights, you can aqua jog. It seems simple enough; strap on an aqua-jogging belt, jump in and start running.

It’s the “start running” part that can present the problem. You ‘take off’ at a snails pace with your head bobbing out of the water like a Golden Retriever. The feeling takes some getting used to, you need to regulate your breathing, and it’s definitely slow and steady as you push and pull your way though the water.

In addition to being slow and awkward, it’s fantastically boring. Throw in some intervals and, if you happen to have a waterproof iPod, use it!

Lesson Two: Body Awareness

‘Running’ in the water is almost nothing like running on land. Prepare yourself. However, like road running, form matters:

  • Upper Body: Don’t lean too far forward. Straighten your upper body, have a ‘proud chest’ and keep your head up!
  • Lower Body: You’re going to bring your knees up more then you would on the road. When you push down, you want a flat foot so you feel as though you’re pushing off the water, and then bring your knee up to about a 90-degree angle. Repeat. And repeat. And repeat!

Also, forget about equating water Ks to land Ks. It may take upwards of an hour to ‘run’ one kilometre. Instead, focus on time and shoot for 20-30 minutes for your first session and gradually increase your pace or time as you progress.

Lesson Three: Modifications 

When I first started with the aqua jogging belt, it kept riding up on me and was hindering my arm swing. A friend, who just happens to be a physical therapist, was in the pool and made a suggestion. Instead of the belt, I held water weights in each hand to stay afloat and, with the added resistance in my upper body; I got an additional workout for my biceps, triceps chest and upper back! Bonus.

Lesson Four: Effectiveness

I started aqua jogging because I was getting a nagging pain in my left foot, two weeks before a marathon. I had never tried aqua jogging but am an avid swimmer. Like any other paranoid runner in taper mode, I was worried about losing some strength and endurance in the final two weeks of training.

I’m happy to say my marathon went off without a hitch and I absolutely lost no fitness, but possibly gained some, by swimming, um err, jogging all those pool Ks!


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