Water running tips

Asking for my husband with a bad ankle sprain that refuses to heal: what should we know about water running for injured runners? Any tips on water belts and interval training would be wonderful.


Hi @gplwoo! From a training standpoint, a lot of older research shows that running performance can be maintained with up to 6 weeks of pool running. The intensity and volume generally needs to be similar to what the runner was doing previously, so that would be highly individual. As far as workouts go, it’s probably easiest to stick to timed intervals with structured rests (similar to a road workout) since distance may be harder to track unless you’re in a pool. It should also be noted that it doesn’t seem to out-perform other cross training modalities as long as the volume and intensity is matched, so there are plenty of ways to maintain fitness.


I’ve done a fair amount of water running in the past. I’ve found it hard to replicate all levels of effort that you would normally be able to do running, so I benefitted most from short (1 min or less) intense intervals and also long easy sessions. For a belt, do whatever you feel more comfortable with. I always used a belt because otherwise my form would fall apart and I was just trying to stay afloat. Some of my friends were perfectly fine without a belt.


I’ve done a lot of pond running last year and again this year. My gut feeling (since I’m not running for real again) is that you can maintain fitness with water running, but only for a while. It’s good for people recovering from stress fractures or other injuries where load-removal is big help. Allan Wilson, the Auburn Pulsars coach, once told me a story about a talented high school girl he was coaching who got injured. He put her in the pool and gave her structured pool running workouts for 4 weeks, if I remember, and she came back and won her event at the New York State championships shortly after getting out of the pool.

I agree with @jullfly that it’s tough to do longer intervals. That whole “it feels like I’m running through deep water” thing is real, so you can work pretty hard without getting much of anywhere. I tend to do short pickups and do the rest at a moderate pace (it feels a little harder than E pace, but perhaps not up to T). And as @JTuori says, you need to work by time, not distance, which loses all meaning in the water.

An Aqua-Jogger belt (or wetsuit) is really helpful to help you maintain form. That’s especially important when you’re getting started (it’s worth watching some YouTube videos to see what proper form is, since it’s quite different than treading water), but even yesterday I did 30 minutes in the pond without my belt and tweaked my neck a little because of holding it in a weird position to keep my mouth out of the water. The belt does make things a little easier, but you can increase cadence for that. You can also attach your belt to something to do resistance intervals.

It’s tempting to invite people over for a workout in our pond, which is about 30 meters across. We could probably stay sufficiently far apart—masks wouldn’t stay on well in the water.

Some useful resources:




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Thanks everyone for all the info. The biggest problem at the moment is just finding good locations to do these workouts where there aren’t too many waves and the water is warm enough - we have swallowed more of Cayuga Lake than we’d like on windier days!

There have to be other good spots where you could get some water running in—you mostly need depth, not a lot of space. I wonder if there are any spots out on Monkey Run that are deep enough? What about the parks (though that water is often really cold)? Anyone else (@D_G_Rossiter?) know of any spots?

I don’t think anyplace on Fall Creek within MR preserve is deep enough. I went in Beebe Lake once but pretty sure it’s not permitted…same for the Six Mile Creek reservoir although it was very peaceful in the mornings until I got kicked out by the gorge ranger, but that was about 10 years ago. Jennings Pond or Dryden Lake might work as well as the swimming areas at Buttermilk or Treman.


In Fall Creek: yes Beebe is am strengst verboten as we say in the previously Nazi-occupied zones. When I was a boy the stone bridge was a legal and popular spot and plenty deep, especially upstream between the bridge and the falls (the area we called Table Top and Lover’s Leap). The CU fuzz will be on your case, the nanny/afraid to be sued Big Red Father.

At Flat Rocks above the small dam for the water filtration plant is plenty deep and safe enough if the flow is not in the spring. Nothing upstream from there is deep enough (no deep pools), only deep in floods and believe me you don’t want to get in when the water is over the MR bridge – October 1982 I saw that with my own eyes, unbelievable.

There are nice “$200 potholes” along Buttermilk gorge trail but probably they are $500 fines by now.

Some nice ponds around. We used to go to the one off Mt. Pleasant Rd. east of Baker Hill.

The smaller lakes warm up quickly, unlike Cayuga. Try Cayuta Lake at one of the boat launches.


Seems like the Six Mile Creek reservoir area eats people. At least those who insist on jumping into water where they can’t see what’s underneath.

@D_G_Rossiter who owns the land around the pond off Mount Pleasant? Have not been there before and would not want to trespass accidentally!

We actually found that Fall Creek at the gravel parking lot off 13, south of Lower Creek Rd is just deep enough, even with the minimal recent rainfall. Nice and calm with a gradual descent and not too many rocks to trip on. Aqua belt is in the mail!

@gplwoo Glen Swan owner of Swan Cycles on Mt Pleasant has a pond on his property. Not sure how deep it is but Glen is a really nice guy and is generally very generous with use of his bike trails. It worth asking he may be willing to let you use it.


@gplwoo Glen Swan is a good guy indeed, that is on the other side of Mt. Pleasant Road than the pond I mentioned. I don’t know who owns that one, it’s not near any house. Anyway good to know about Fall Creek above the NY13 bridge, if you can deal with the steady traffic noise. I did not know that there was a mini-pothole there. I’ve run up to the bridge on the other side (Cayuga Trail) but not above the bridge.

99% sure the one on Mt. Pleasant is on private property.