Using the Pool for Marathon Training

I’m still undecided whether I’ll be running the full or half marathon in Richmond, but I have decided that aqua jogging will be part of my training.

I used the water to maintain fitness while letting my tendonitis heal for 5-6 weeks, and so far, I’m continuing to get in 1-2 pool workouts a week.  It feels amazing to be in the water and get in a great workout with low impact!

Last week, I spent some time reading more about using the pool for marathon training and I came up with a plan.

There are several ways you could use aqua jogging in training.  The key is to continue normal training volume and intensity- alternating hard and easy days.

For all aqua jogging workouts, a belt is ideal to keep your body weight in place so you can work on the movements.  These exercises are meant to take place in deep water.

Using the pool for intensity

While injured or first coming back from injury, the pool is where the hard runs should happen, and you can use the road for the easy runs as you build back.

There are countless ways to get a high intensity workout in the pool.  After a warm up jog in the water, choose one of the following:

  • alternate 2 minutes hard, 2 minutes easy x 8-10
  • run 5 minutes hard, 3 minutes easy x 5
  • do a ladder of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 minutes hard with equal recovery
  • “run” a length, skip a length, try high knees, butt kicks or front kicks each for 1 minute with equal recovery and repeat

This book is also a fantastic resource for getting a high intensity workout in to complement running.  It covers forms, exercises, tools, and sample workouts in detail.

Using the pool for recovery

A second option is to use the pool for easy days in order to “run” without the impact. This can include easy aqua jogging, with short bursts of speed for 30 seconds to break it up.

Using the pool for a combination of hard and easy workouts

The pool can also be used for both speed and recovery.  This is ideal if you want to get in one hard workout on land but prefer to keep the other runs easy.  The second hard workout (or third) can take place in the water.

My plan

I’m going to combine some of the theories of Run Less, Run Faster with pool running, spinning and strength.  So for now, I’m focusing on about 3 runs per week, with 2 of them “hard” – intervals, tempo or long runs with a pace goal. My recovery runs will be in the pool.

Because my body tends to break down when I consistently run over 40 miles per week, this will allow me to maintain higher volume while hopefully keeping my body strong and happy!

I’m planning to get in a few more long runs before making the call for the half or full.

If you are currently injured, I shared more workouts in this post on getting fitter while injured.

Have you ever used pool running in your plan when not injured? 

Do you have one set way you train for races, or do you like to experiment with various training plans? I’ve done a lot of experimenting over the years!!

I am linking up with SuzRachelLora, and Debbie for Running Coaches CornerPattyErika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run, NicoleAnnmarieMichelle, and Jen for Wild Workout Wednesday.

14 thoughts on “Using the Pool for Marathon Training

  1. You know I spent some time in the pool this spring while rehabbing my stress fracture. It really is a sanity saver! I swore that I’d keep up with the pool but now that it’s really nice out, I’d rather be in the outdoor pool than inside. And of course, the days that I can make it to the pool, have been cooler or raining. I’ll get back there!
    angela @ happy fit mama recently posted..SIX03 Summerfest 10K (2017)My Profile

  2. I have that same book, I taught aqua aerobics for years and I think it’s a much harder workout than people like to think it is. I would sample my classes before teaching them and literally thought I was going to die!

  3. I was first introduced to pool running in 2010 when I had a peroneal tendon issue during a Boston training cycle. I pool ran for 6 weeks and I’m happy to tell you the race went really well. I’ve done some pool running since then and I always vow to keep it in my rotation because it’s very effective, but the pool I belong to now isn’t deep enough for real pool running. Your plan sounds like a good one. All the best with deciding between the half and full.
    Marcia recently posted..How to Heal and Prevent Hamstring InjuriesMy Profile

    • Yes! It’s pretty amazing how well it works. I’ve tried to use Run Less, Run Faster in the past but could never stick to only 3 days of running. This time, coming back from injury I think it’s going to be smart to limit my land running, although I probably won’t always run the long runs as fast as they recommend.
      Laura recently posted..Using the Pool for Marathon TrainingMy Profile

  4. I have never tried pool running myself, but when I coach runners who do it, they always tell me what a hard workout it can be! This sounds like a great approach for you and I think that pool running sounds more fun that the other cross-training options in Run Less, Run Faster – it’s a lot like running, rather than feeling stuck on the bike or rower.
    Laura @ This Runner’s Recipes recently posted..This Runner’s Eats: Summer MealsMy Profile

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