A blog by runners. For runners.

All about the pool

demystifying-the-gym-the-poolFor those of us who’d rather plod along on land, setting foot into the pool locker room can be quite unnerving. I, myself, am not a terribly good swimmer, though I have learned ways to use this awesome resource to my advantage over the years. You don’t need to swim to get a great workout in the pool. Whether you’re injured, looking for new cross-training opportunities, or just bored with the other gym options, slipping on your Speedo might be a wonderful change of pace.

Here are four ways to work up a sweat* in the pool:

Swimming laps
The most traditional form of pool exercise is, well, swimming. You can do freestyle, breast stroke, butterfly, or even backstroke — whatever floats your, uhm, body! Jen wrote a wonderful article explaining all the benefits of swimming added into the training cycle for runners. This workout challenges the entire body, all while working that cardiovascular system, meaning you might even see faster race times. I know from experience that long, slow swimming sessions helped me shave time off my 5K record.

Taking classes
Most gyms with pools offer some type of water curriculum. If you haven’t checked, you should ask your reception staff. I got some first-hand experience leading a variety of classes at our local YMCA a couple years ago. Anything from in-water Zumba to arthritis clinics to jogging or cycling can be done in the pool. What I like about water aerobics is the friendly dynamic of the class setting. Those half hour to hour sessions speed by really fast. And because the moves are low impact, you can do almost as many as you’d like, even when you’re injured.

Aqua jogging
I’ve shared my passion and enthusiasm for aqua jogging before, but if you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon yet — here’s your chance. If you are injured or just too cold to run outside, slipping on a belt and “jogging” some “miles” in the pool can certainly get your heart rate up and your endorphins going.

I don’t often leave time after runs to actually stretch and lengthen my body. All those miles really add up in terms of aches and pains and sore muscles. On days when I am usually slated to take off, sometimes putting on my swimsuit and taking a slow approach in the pool is all I need. For those of you who might feel self conscious about certain moves on land, the support and floating properties of the water can get you moving in ways you never thought you could! Here’s a great pool stretching routine to get you started.
* Sweat? I assure you, if your heart rate is up and your breathing is more labored, you’re likely sweating in the pool. Sounds sort of gross, but what you need to know is hydration — despite what you might think — is ever-important, even when you’re already in the water. Be sure to pack a large water bottle to stash by your lane for a few sips every now and again.

What are your favorite pool workouts?

Written by  Ashley Marcin.

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