How to Water Jog


Runners engage in water jogging, a low-impact deep-water training technique, to cross-train, for off-season conditioning or to rehab an injury. And fitness centers offer water jogging as part of hydro circuit classes, for its conditioning and calorie burn. Without the jarring impact of land running, water running provides many of its benefits, such as maintaining your cardio fitness and challenging similar muscles. Typically performed with a flotation device, the technique and form simulate the way you run on land.

Things You'll Need

  • Float belt
  • Swim noodle (optional)

Basic Technique with Variations

  • Strap on a float belt and ease into the deep end of a pool. Keep your arms relaxed and elbows bent 90 degrees. Hold your hands in a loosely clenched fist with your palms facing inward. An alternate position is with your hands open, fingers together, thumbs up and your palms facing inward.

  • Lean slightly forward of vertical, and start moving your arms and legs opposite each other similar to the way you run on land. Keep your back straight and use an elliptical stride motion. Avoid the common errors of leaning too far forward or backward.

  • Point your toes up when you lift the knee of your leading leg. Before your thigh becomes parallel with the bottom of the pool, extend your leg and reach forward with your foot. Drive your foot down and then back toward the back wall, leading with your heal. Imagine the bottom of your foot pushing off the bottom of the pool similar to the way you push off the ground when you run on land.

  • Extend your hip and draw your foot up beneath your butt as you lift your knee to take another stride. Jason Fitzgerald, USATF-certified coach, recommends using a quick turnover rate of 180 strides per minute.

  • Remove your float belt to intensify water jogging. To stay afloat, make a slight change in technique. Increase your stride and turnover rate and lift your knees higher. While this demands more energy and makes for a harder workout, your running form may be compromised.

  • Move to chest-high water for tethered running. Tie one end of resistance tubing to a sturdy part of the pool, such as a lane line hook, and secure the other end around your waist. Run forward to see how far you can stretch the tubing. Try to stretch the tubing farther with each attempt.

Sample Workout

  • Perform a 10-minute dynamic warm-up on land. Engage in moderate aerobic activities with movements similar to running to activate your muscles and prepare your body for the workout. Activities might include high-knee marching or a light jog on a treadmill.

  • Ease into the deep end of the pool and start with a 10-minute easy water jog. Jeff Gaudette, running coach and founder of RunnersConnect, recommends using an easy, run recovery pace -- maintain a heart rate between 65 to 75 percent of your maximum heart rate.

  • Pick up your pace and sprint for 60 seconds. Gaudette defines a sprint pace as a hard effort -- maintain a heart rate between 95 to 100 percent of your maximum heart rate. Follow this with an easy, run recovery pace for 30 seconds.

  • Increase to a sprint pace for 90 seconds followed by another 30-second easy, run recovery pace. Continue the pattern of a hard sprint followed by a 30-second recovery pace, adding 30 seconds each time to the sprint times until you reach a three-minute sprint.

  • Continue the pattern, but reduce the sprint times by 30 seconds each time until you reach a one-minute sprint. Cool down with a 10-minute easy water jog.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you struggle with maintaining a forward lean, insert a swim noodle between your back and the float belt to force a slight lean.
  • Water jogging can be hard on certain hip or knee injuries. If you experience pain while water jogging, stop and consult your doctor.

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  • Photo Credit Georgiy Pashin/iStock/Getty Images
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