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Two For One Winter Training Idea

By Allie Burdick | Dec. 19, 2016, 12:21 p.m. (ET)

pool running

Motivation may wane for triathletes in the offseason, which provides a unique opportunity to condense training sessions. If you are coming off a long, hard racing season it's a good idea to take it easier in the winter months, at least for a few weeks, and enjoy some much needed recovery.

A great way to save time without sacrificing fitness is to combine swimming and pool running. If you have never tried pool running (or aqua jogging), the winter is a great time to test it out.

The Basics

Obviously you need access to a pool and may need a swim belt and pool weights. Most facilities will have at least one of these items and, if not, you can still “run” in place in the water and then do fast and slow intervals to mix it up.

If pool weights are available, try using those instead of the swim belt to keep you afloat, while giving you an added upper body workout. Moving your arms though the water in a running motion with the weights also helps to keep your form in check.

If you really want to cut down on boredom and lengthen your swim/run time, invest in a waterproof iPod like the WaterFi and let the intervals fly by! 


“Running” in the water is almost nothing like running on land. However, like road running, form matters:

Upper Body: The biggest mistake is allowing your body to lean too far forward. Straighten your upper body, have a ‘proud chest’ and keep your head up!

Lower Body: You’re going to bring your knees up more than you would on the road. When you push down, you want a flat foot so you feel as though you’re pushing off the water, and then bring your knee up to about a 90-degree angle. Repeat … and repeat and repeat.

Also, forget about equating water miles to land miles. It may take upward of an hour to “run” a half-mile. Instead, focus on time and shoot for 20-30 minutes for your first session and gradually increase your pace or time as you progress. 

Effective Training

I started aqua jogging back in 2015 due to a nagging pain in my left foot, two weeks before a marathon. I had never tried aqua jogging, but triathlon is my sport of choice so I was no stranger to the pool. However, like any other paranoid racer in taper mode, I was worried about losing some strength and endurance in the final two weeks of training.

I’m happy to report I actually ran my marathon PR proving there was no loss of fitness. I most likely gained some by pushing hard through the resistance of water and staying off my weakened foot. 

Double Time - Swim and Run Pool Workout

Swim: 300 easy, 200 pull, 100 kick
Run: 5 x 1 minute tempo effort, 1 minute sprint
Swim: 4 x 100 fast with 30 second rest intervals
Run: 5 x 30 seconds of running with your legs, putting your hands overhead, 30 second rest intervals
Swim: 2 x 100 fast with 30 second rest intervals
Run: 4 x 1 minute tempo effort, 1 minute sprint
Swim: 300 easy
Run: 5 minutes easy

You can also do a full swim workout first and then a pool running segment afterward. There are endless ways to run and swim in the pool, leaving you time to do more important things in your offseason. Enjoy! 

Allie Burdick is an ACE certified personal trainer and fitness instructor. She has been running and competing her entire life and was recently part of Team USA in duathlon and will be competing at the 2016 USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships. Her writing has appeared in Runner's World, Women's Running and ESPNW. She blogs about triathlon and marathon training at

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and not necessarily the practices of USA Triathlon. Before starting any new diet or exercise program, you should check with your physician and/or coach.