How Swim Workouts for Runners Work

Types of Swim Workouts

If you're already an experienced runner, you'll have no problem adapting your land workouts to the pool. One thing you'll have to get used to is the pacing; after all, everything is slower under water. Try counting your "cycles" per minute -- that is, how many times you kick your right leg in a minute of pool running. A pace of 60 to 70 cycles is a light jog; 70-80 is a brisk run and anything over 80 is the equivalent of your top speed [source: Barker].

If you're primarily interested in boosting your stamina, then try to maintain a steady jogging pace for 30 to 45 minutes. Concentrate on your form and your posture, keeping your back straight and head up. If you usually alternate sequences of running and walking on land, do the same in the water.

Milers and other fast long-distance runners like the fartlek technique, a training method than combines aerobic and anaerobic workouts for both stamina and speed. Fartlek means "speed play" in Swedish and requires alternating sequences of intense and light running. A common fartlek sequence is to run at top pace for five minutes, then five minutes of light running, followed by four minutes of fast, four minutes of light, all the way down to one minute of each [source: Saunders]. You can replicate this easily in the water.

Of course, pool running isn't the only kind of water workout for designed for runners. There are all kinds of pool workouts that target specific muscle groups and contribute to overall strength and fitness. For example, if you stand with your back against the pool wall, supported by your arms, you can do 90-degree scissor kicks that work the legs and abs [source: Saunders]. The same applies to bicycle motions. If you're a sprinter and want more explosive power off the blocks, move to the shallow end of the pool and jump out of the water in three reps of 15 [source: Barker]. The water provides excellent resistance and cushions your landing.

For more health and exercise information, look at our helpful links below.

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More Great Links


  • American Council on Exercise. "Beat the Heat Before it Beats You"
  • Aquajogger. "Water Running Handbook"
  • Barker, Jill. "Cool down your workout by taking it to the pool." National Post. July 7, 2010
  • Bloom, Marc. "Water Workouts"
  • Burfoot, Amby. Runner's World Complete Book of Beginning Running. Rodale, Inc. 1997
  • Saunders, Chris. "Cross-Training Alternative: Pool-Running." January 26, 2004
  • Wischnia, Bob and Bloom, Marc. "Head for the Pool." Runner's World. September 5, 2003,7120,s6-238-263-266-5536-0,00.html