After nearly a month I have finally got around to writing my next blog. Given my hatred of the treadmill and my love of the outdoors you can probably guess from the title of this blog that I am currently injured. I haven’t run since 6th December (yes, I am counting….) due to leg injury that may or may not be a stress fracture depending on which physio I ask. In any case, when you notice your leg is feeling odd when walking, or even sometimes when sitting, it is a sign that running has to temporarily go out of the window, its high impact nature making it one of the worst things you can do when nursing a leg injury.
After I eventually accepted that I had to reduce the amount of walking I was doing as well as stopping running I began increasing the amount of cross training I was doing in an attempt to ensure I will not be starting from base zero when I am eventually able to run again. Unfortunately my slow pace of recovery saw the physio inform me that even using the cross trainer in the gym should be avoided for the time being and thus I turned to the swimming pool. I do enjoy swimming, having been able to swim since the age of two, but my reason for avoiding it initially was that ploughing up and down lengths does not use the leg muscles I need for running.
After mentioning this to a friend he suggested I try aqua jogging and I am now doing this regularly. The principle is very simple – you put on a flotation belt, get out of your depth in the swimming pool and then perform exactly the same running action you would use on land. Aqua jogging is a great way to cross train for running because it is essentially zero impact on your leg and still uses the necessary leg muscles. It gives your thighs especially a real workout! See this article for a longer and more in depth break down of the benefits of aqua jogging – http://runnersconnect.net/coach-corner/aqua-jogging-for-runners.
I have to admit that I felt a bit silly the first time I tried aqua jogging. The flotation belt is quite a bulky item and it has to be the slowest method of moving through the water I have ever tried. Added to that is the fact that you have to remain out of your depth so you end up very slowly doing half lengths in the slow lane of the swimming pool.
However, aqua jogging does give you a proper workout which is something I had been really missing because, for me, swimming and the gym just do not have the same effect as running. Aqua jogging is also clearly not the same as you can hardly aqua jog across the fields but there is something comforting about going through the motions of running even if it is indoors in a swimming pool. Aqua jogging does suffer from the same boredom issues as the gym but, in the gym, my injury confined me to one piece of equipment whereas I can mix up aqua jogging, swimming and swimming drills to make a bit more interesting.
Aqua jogging can never replace running but it is a good stop gap to help ensure I retain some level of fitness until my leg is finally recovered and I can go back to what I love.