aqua jogging for runners

A runner’s guide to aqua jogging

Water exercise is not just for swimmers or the seniors at the community center. Runners and other athletes can benefit from hopping in the water and going for a jog.

Yes, jogging in the water.

Aqua jogging is a form of cross-training for runners that allows you to get in the “miles” without the stress on your joints. Athletes can still maintain — and even improve! — their fitness with aqua jogging. The exercise recruits the same muscles as running while water’s natural resistance supports and challenges the muscles. 

Professional athletes like Jordan Hasay and Tim O’Donnell regularly incorporate water running as a way to stay fit but protect their joints.

Aqua jogging can be done in a pool or even lake but a Michael Phelps Signature Swim Spa can provide the space and resistance you want. No water shoes or flotation belt required!

aqua jogging for runners
Aqua jogging is a form of cross training that can be beneficial for runners. You can mimic the movement patterns of running without the impact on your joints. It’s also a way to maintain muscle memory while recovering from an injury.

Aqua jogging basics

You may be wondering: What is aqua jogging?

Aqua jogging, also called water or pool running, is a form of cardiovascular exercise that mimics the motion of running. The difference is that you ditch the running shoes and shorts for a swimsuit. 

Some runners might choose to don a flotation belt to “run” up and down a swim lane. Others might choose to run in place in the deep end of a pool. 

The goal, though, is to mimic the motion of running in the water. You should have a tall posture in the water and focus on a high knee drive. And don’t forget about your arms! You should pump your arms just as you would if you were running or power walking up a hill. 

This form of cross training can help runners strengthen muscles that might not be used when running on land. (Yes, we’re talking about those pesky hip flexors.)

Aqua jogging benefits for runners

Running is one of the most popular outdoor recreational activities — even if it seems like everyone you know says they only run when being chased. 

According to a report from the Sports and Fitness Industry Association, about 50 million Americans participate in some form of running. That’s 15 percent of the population!

But the growing popularity in the sport has also fueled another trend: running-related injuries. 

About 50 percent of regular runners get hurt each year, according to Yale Medicine. But that percentage could be higher as some injuries go unreported. While some injuries can be the result of trauma, like falling, many are from overuse. 

Cross training and stretching, though, can help runners become injury-proof. 

Runners, though, often really like running and struggle to give up the miles for other activities. Aqua jogging can help runners strengthen their legs, improve running economy, and feel better at the end of a race.

Runners are able to work against the resistance of the water instead of gravity. Instead of each step causing hundreds of pounds of impact, each step in the water is nearly weightless. You also tend to be more aware of your posture in the water. This focus can help you improve your gait and make each step feel more natural.

One of the benefits of water exercise is increased range of motion. Aqua jogging is particularly effective at targeting the hip flexors, which can often be tight or weak in runners.

water running workout
Aqua jogging, or water running, can help improve your aerobic capacity without the pounding on your joints.

Water running in a swim spa

Aqua jogging is an extremely effective way for runners to cross train or rehab an injury. 

But what if you are crunched for time or hate the idea of going to the pool?

Michael Phelps Signature Swim Spas make water running and other activities convenient and comfortable. The swim spas have a propulsion system that generates a continuous current of water, allowing you to run in place. You can change the speed of the current to match your fitness level or incorporate intervals into your session. 

Models are also fitted with a non-slip flooring system, which provides comfort and traction. While you might need water shoes to aqua jog at the local pool, you can safely “run” barefoot in a swim spa. 

Posture is important when water running in a swim spa. You want to stand tall, engage your core, and keep your eyes forward. Your gait will also be important, too. Instead of having more of a kick toward your glutes, you will be driving your knees forward. Be sure not to bounce. Rather, take intentional steps.

Michael Phelps swim spas have a water depth of about 51 inches, providing the benefits of deep water running but still keeping your head above water.

aqua jogging for athletes
Professional triathlete Tim O’Donnell incorporates aqua jogging into his training routine.

5 tips for your first aqua jogging session

If you’re looking to add some variety to your training or need a new way to cross train, aqua jogging is a great option for runners. It’s easy on your joints and is low impact, but still provides many of the same benefits as running on land. 

These tips will help you get the most out of your water running sessions in a swim spa and have fun doing it!

Invest in a quality swimsuit. If you’re not comfortable with your body, it can be hard to focus on the workout itself. By wearing a suit that fits well and is flattering, you will feel more confident in your session and have more fun doing it!

Wear goggles. Goggles are important because they help protect your eyes from sweat and splashing water. Plus, if you have an outdoor swim spa, some lenses will help protect your eyes from the sun.

Start slowly. Chances are that you didn’t start your first running sessions with 10 miles on a technical trail. You might have started with a couple miles around your neighborhood. And you should embrace that same mindset when you are aqua jogging — especially if you are rehabbing a running injury. Be sure to include a generous warm up and cool down at an easy pace. Then, you can increase the speed of the water current to a comfortable pace. Try running in the water for 10 to 15 minutes at that pace. As you become more comfortable, you can gradually increase your session time in the swim spa. Remember: It’s more important to enjoy a 15-minute workout than to trudge through an hour. 

Add music. Music can be a powerful motivator when you are working out. And, if you are running in place, music can be especially helpful. You can stream your favorite playlist to waterproof headphones or through a quality pool speaker. Many outdoor speakers can rest safely on the edge of the swim spa.

Use the clock. Go into nearly any pool, and you are going to find at least one clock on the wall. Swimmers reference the clock for send-offs or to check lap times. While you aren’t swimming laps in the spa, a clock or timer can be helpful when you are aqua jogging — especially for a long-time runner. Instead of focusing on the number of miles, break up your workout into timed intervals. You can jog at a challenging pace for 30 seconds and recover for 30 seconds. A clock or timer can help you get the most out of your water running sessions in the swim spa.

swim spa considerations
A Michael Phelps Signature Swim Spa allows you to incorporate water running into your routine without the stress of driving to the pool.

How to buy a swim spa

Do you want to be able to swim, exercise, and relax at home? Having a Michael Phelps Signature Swim Spa allows you to swim on your schedule while adding a fun factor to your backyard. You can click here to find out more about the benefits of hydrotherapy and relaxing in a hot tub. Or, contact your local Master Spas retailer to learn more about swim spa ownership. Wondering how much a swim spa costs? You can request a quote here.