Does pool running really work?

If you’ve been following this dumb ole blog for awhile, then you probably know I took up pool running while working through a running injury.

Last week I completed physical therapy. Wahoo! I’m still doing 30 minutes of run/walking, slowly increasing the amount of time I run. The game plan is to get to a point where there is zero pain, which I am so close to. Then increase the running time. The mind-body connection in pretty darn amazing.

Under the advice of my doctor, this self proclaimed ‘not a swimmer’ took up pool running when I was on crutches and couldn’t even walk. Well, later I found out I could walk the entire time, I just didn’t know it. But that’s another story.

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I am forever thankful for my doctors advice, because it got me through a tough time by giving me something I COULD do. I never thought I would really like it, but turns out, I love it. In fact, I incorporate it into my workouts now that I am off the injured list.

I thought it would be fun to do a post about my experience since pool running seems to be a trending topic lately. Here are a few common questions I get about pool running and injuries:

How deep does the pool need to be?

I’d say as long as your feet don’t touch the bottom, you’re fine.

Where do you pool run?

My local gym because we live along the coast where year round temps are 50-60’s. The gym has an Olympic size heated pool and sun deck to lay out after. Only thing missing is a hawt dude with a nice glass of chard after. Ha!

What belt do you use? 

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I just use this free one my gym provides. I haven’t tried any other brand because I’m a cheap-o so I don’t have an opinion on anything else. I also tried pool running without a belt which expectedly is more difficult, but my doc advised me to run with it to help keep proper form.

Do you think it helped you overcome the injury?

Absolutely! 100%. Not only did it help with the mental part of dealing with the injury and gave me something I could do, my physical therapist was constantly amazed at my progress. He would give me different exercises to do, then increase the difficulty. I’d nail it and he would shake his head and say ‘I did not expect you to be this advanced in your recovery.’ The only thing I’ve been doing is pool running so it has to be that.

Did it help keep your cardio fitness?

I can’t give an honest answer one this one. I took up PR after about a month and a half of being in the boot and on my road bike. Since I wasn’t running for awhile before, I don’t have anything to compare it to.

How long do you pool run?

I shoot for at least 30 minutes. If I’m with a friend we do 40-45 minutes.

Is it boring?

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It can be, but I highly recommend going with a friend or getting a waterproof iPod. While the iPod is still on my wish list, going with a friend is so much fun which makes time fly. Plus we can still chat while working out. Score! 

Emily has a waterproof iPod and loves it, so that’s another option you might look into.

Will you continue to PR after healing?

Yes! I really enjoy it a lot. Plus with the new exercises my PT has me doing, pool running and cycling, I never feel bored. I also love stepping out of the pool feeling so good and refreshed. 

Have you tired pool running or do you want to?

If so, share your tips.


6 Comments on “Does pool running really work?

  1. Yes…I tried it for 2 weeks… 6x to be specific. Yes, you definitely don’t want your toes/feet be able to touch the bottom. I splurged for an Aqua Jogger. Looks the same as your gym belt. When I was PR’ing, the trainer said to run like I was smashing grapes. Form is important and especially arm form. He wanted me to run naturally and not try to think about being in the water (if that makes any sense). I too had a waterproof ipod…so all I did was put on the tunes and go at it for 30 mins straight down the lane… that’s about the time he wanted me in there too. If I concentrated and gave it a good effort, I was out of breath after 10-15 minutes… It’s hard if you want it to be…and it could be easy if you wanted to be as well. I would be so distracted by that slide you have at your pool. I think I would have stuck to pool running if not for the AlterG. After running on the alter-G, rehab for me means I can still lace on the shoes and go for a ‘run’…

  2. I’d ditch my waterproof iPod for you any day of the week! We will reunite soon and I can’t wait! xo

  3. Sending this to Mike….so he knows we weren’t actually RUNNING in the pool (well, depending on one’s definition of running, I s’pose). 😉 Good summary of the PR basics!

  4. I just got injured, and because of you mentioning pool running, I gave it a shot. It’s definitely been a huge help for me mentally, if nothing else, because I love running so much and miss it like crazy, and pr has been a welcome form of cardio for me. I will likely continue it one day a week or so once I recover. Thanks for sharing your experience here on your blog so when others get injured we hear of options that we previously had not known about!

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