How Swim Workouts for Runners Work

Swim Workouts for Runners Technique

An Aquajogger makes it much easier to keep your head above water as you work out in the pool.
An Aquajogger makes it much easier to keep your head above water as you work out in the pool.
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For the lowest impact and most effective pool workout, you should never let your feet touch its bottom. Instead, you need to invest in a flotation device that keeps your head above the water while you run in place. There are custom-made devices like the AquaJogger that strap around your waist. Some runners use life vests, kickboards and even pool "noodles."

Pool running should be done in the deep end where you can easily float with the water at shoulder level [source: Burfoot]. The key to water running technique is to keep your head up and back straight. Your center of gravity is different in the water; many beginners tend to lean and bend forward to adjust [source: AquaJogger]. Instead, pretend that there's a string tying your head to the ceiling that keeps your posture straight. Try not to bob up and down while pool running; keep your motion even.

The ideal pool running motion is actual quite different than land running. Instead of bending your knees and raising them upward, experts recommend that you "sweep" your legs forward as if you were using a cross-country skiing machine [source: Bloom]. Lead with the toes and sweep the rest of your leg forward and backward. This works the maximum amount of muscle groups at once, including quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes [source: Burfoot].

You should bend your arms at right angles and pump them straight up and down, without crossing your chest. Raise your arms until your thumbs are two inches (5 centimeters) below the water's surface.

Another common beginner's mistake is to hold your breath. Since you're in the pool, you might have to overcome the natural swimmer's instinct to be able to breathe normally [source: Burfoot]. Don't worry, you'll get used to it.

Once you have the technique down, you're ready to try some great pool workouts for both speed and stamina. Read more on the next page.