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Aqua Jogging for Runners

March 7, 2013

Let me start off by saying that aqua jogging is one of my least favorite workouts, but sometimes it’s a necessary evil.  If you’re lucky, you haven’t had to do this workout.  If you’ve pushed through an injury or have noticed some weird aches and pains on your feet, knees, or joints, however, you should consider giving aqua jogging a try.  It could really benefit your training.

The first time my coach asked me to do it was during Ironman training when I had a foot injury and needed to simulate my long run.  Then just yesterday he asked me to do it again as part of my marathon training this week since I started experiencing foot pain again.  (Don’t worry – it’s in a different place, and I think I just irritated it at Disneyland!)  I’m all about transparency with my coach, but I was dreading telling him about my pain because I just knew aqua jogging was coming!

I went to Disneyland over the weekend! I think all that walking sparked my foot pain.

 I think all that walking around the theme park sparked my foot pain.  What do you think, Bullseye?


So, what is aqua jogging?  According to, “Aqua jogging is an alternative to running that preserves your joints and especially your knees.  The activity takes place in water, as its name suggests, and practically eliminates any jarring effect.  The exercise can be performed if you have knee or other joint pain, if you’re going through rehabilitation, or if you simply want to switch up your workout routine with something different.  Your body is vertical, with your chest, torso and lower body underwater and your shoulders, neck and head out of it.  Some aqua joggers choose to wear a flotation belt around the waist, but this is not required.  The legs do a jogging motion under the surface. To avoid touching the bottom of the pool, which can interrupt the jogging motion, it should be done in deeper water. The arms either remain still or move in a jogging motion.” 

Honestly, I always thought aqua jogging was for the elderly or for those that were undergoing physical therapy, and I pictured wearing a flotation device while jogging in the pool.  That is indeed one way to do it.  That is not the way my coach had me do it.

These fit athletes get to wear a flotation belt? Not fair!

These fit athletes get to wear a flotation belt? Not fair!


The times I’ve done it, I had the glory of going in the deep end of the pool with no flotation device, keeping my head and shoulders above water, running laps back and forth for anywhere between 45-120 minutes.  That, my friends, is aqua jogging for runners and triathletes.

Aqua jogging is a good option to incorporate in your marathon training plan because:

1)  It simulates all the motions of running without the impact on your body.  (It’s very different from the elliptical because you still get to run!)

2) It gets your heart rate up.

3) You can do it with an injury, so you don’t have to stop training. (Check w/ your coach or dr first, of course.)

4) It builds mental toughness. (Seriously, I am ready to get out after 5 minutes.)

Tips for a positive aqua jogging experience:

– Pick a pool where you can jog without touching the bottom, even if it means looking silly next to someone in master’s swim like I did today.

– Hydrate!  Place a bottle of water by the side of the pool so you can grab it when you get thirsty.  Add nutrition, like GU, if you’re simulating a long run.

– Wear a watch and stick to your planned time.

– Wear a waterproof music device.  I don’t have one but always wish I did because this workout can become very tedious.

– Make friends with your lane mates.  Maybe they will splash you less.

Overall, I’m glad there is an alternative to running that actually simulates running without the pounding effect because I stress out when I have to miss a workout in my training plan.  I also know I shouldn’t push myself and risk long-term injury which can happen if I were to keep running with pain of any kind, so this gives me a way to keep training safely.

My coworker told me her cross-country coach used to make them do aqua jog sprints in the water with their running shoes on, so I guess it could be worse!!

Have you ever aqua jogged?  Did you like it?

  1. Adrienne permalink

    This may come as a surprise to you, but the only aqua jogging I may have done, was trying to get Jasper out of the pool when I pushed him down the slide.

  2. howie permalink

    where in San Diego did you aqua jog?

    • Boys and Girls Club Solana Beach. You could also try the JCC in La Jolla. Good luck!

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