If that looks ridiculous, you should see me in the swimming pool.
I stay in the deep end. Round my waist is a bulky blue foam belt. I am upright, my shoulders and upper arms working erratically. My face is red. Whether that is through exertion or embarrassment is a moot point. It’s my weekly pool running session and, as usual, I am getting a few quizzical looks from my more horizontal companions in the slow lane.
My blue foam fashion accessory is called an AquaJogger® buoyancy belt. I feel slightly idiotic, bobbing about like an infant in waterwings, but if this is the way to mimic a track session without putting weight on my damaged ankle, I will train like an idiot.
Physiotherapist to the stars (of Kent AC) Paul O’Hara at Back on Track lent me the Aquajogger. He’d seen me looking even more of a tit than usual, bouncing on a trampette during a Team 6 training session and doubtless felt sorry for me.
I’ve read many times that Jo Pavey incorporates pool running into her training regime. It confirms my suspicions that huge success in distance running comes not only from faultless physical conditioning but also the will to grit teeth and do something incredibly boring because you know it’s good for you. Ms Pavey’s physical and mental grit and endurance makes me look like Homer Simpson. But at least I’m giving people a good laugh.
If any readers out there want to know more about pool running (sure you do!) these are the points to note:
- Adopt an upright, slightly leaning forward position with chest lifted.
- Your shoulders should be above the hips
- Brace the tummy muscles a bit (I do that always when in a swimsuit, especially when I catch a glimpse of my rapidly rounding post menopausal midsection in the changing room mirrors)
- Squeeze buttocks and tuck ‘em in that pelvic tilty, Pilates way
- Stay in the deep end, otherwise you’ve missed the point a bit
Try to do intervals. Try to do 180 strides in a minute. This is a good way of preventing boredom. I watch the clock count down each minute and do alternate bursts of 180 strides/minute and 100 strides/minute for 30 minutes total. Then I get out of the pool, remove my blue belt and enjoy the freedom of lying on my belly and attempting to front crawl (but mostly giving into breast stroke) for as many lengths as time allows.
And my ankle? It doesn’t hurt so much, and I have been back to the rack for a few painfully slow, wheezy sessions. I am sill waiting for the MRI to tell me what is really afoot (see what I did there?). The Achilles area is often swollen and painful the day after a run. I am doing many heel raises. I’ve done a parkrun (my time was 2 minutes and 20 seconds slower than my PB). I feel as if I will never run totally easy again, but time is of the essence. I’m 54 for pity’s sake, I cannot spend these years waiting not to ache. I am going to ache, so I may as well get on and run.
The Berlin marathon is in 18 weeks. I have time to build up my training cautiously. There’s no point being wet about it.