It’s been two weeks since I had to take a break from running, and I really did intend to start lap swimming and other things last week, but I came down with a cold. I don’t work out when I’m ill. I did go to work, though. My hip wasn’t hurting at the beginning of the weekend, but it was twinging at the end. This told me that I didn’t use ibuprofen and ice long enough (3 days). I had a cold and was taking as many drugs as some of my elderly patients – 9 pills one morning, my usual melatonin and Flexeril along with Benadryl, Sudafed, and Motrin, so I decided to skip the Motrin for a little bit after that.
Sometime Friday night, I mentioned that I was going to start swimming laps, and bemoaning the inevitable loss of the gains I had made while running. My friend who also runs mentioned aqua jogging, so when I got home, I started researching it online. I won’t bore you with all of the details, but it’s good for maintaining fitness levels if not improving them. It was good enough for me.
Monday morning after work I decided to do some shopping before bed, both online and in town. I was hoping (futilely) that I could order some aqua jogging shoes on Amazon and get them shipped today. I like Ryka in general, because I have a wide toe and narrow heel and they fit well, but they had so many terrible reviews about shoddy quality that I had to pass. AQx makes a shoe that’s supposed to be amazing for aqua jogging, but I kept reading that they were non-returnable. I couldn’t tell if they were wide enough, so I passed on those as well. Besides, they are hideously ugly. FUGLY. If you don’t believe me, see for yourself:
Now, I admit that function is far more important than form in fitness gear, but holy shit these things are awful. My grandmother had two sisters-in-law, Madge and Jean. Madge was blind. My grandmother told me a story that once upon a time she and her sisters-in-law decided to dress Madge in the most horrible, mismatched, flamboyant getup they could arrange, and take her out to a social gathering. At this gathering there was another woman that they all knew (and who I guess they didn’t much like), who was always prim and proper and polite. They dressed Madge crazily just to see if this woman would react. Apparently she noticed, but never said a word and had some funny facial expressions. The story was a lot funnier when Grandi told it, but the point I’m trying to make is that these would have been the perfect shoes to complement Madge’s freakish outfit.
I ended up buying the Columbia Women’s Powerdrain Water Shoe on Amazon. It had good reviews on functionality and it’s cute. I’m into really bright colors this year (my work Asics are purple and limeade, people really dig the brightness in the ER). All the new running shorts and tops that I bought are bright or fluorescent. My running shoes themselves are pathetically boring. I pronate slightly and require a wide toe box, so Asics are my shoe of choice. Unfortunately, they think that pronators need boring shoes. Mine are white with blue stripes. They remind me of the Nikes I wore in 1983. Yeah, that bad. So these Columbia Powerdrain shoes are pretty cool:
For some reason, it’s supposed to take 4 or 5 days just to package and get into the mail. Honestly now, ordering something on June 1st and getting it between the 12th and 17th is ridiculous in this day and age. Do they have to make them first?
Satisfied with my purchase and rationalizing that it would take me a couple of weeks to get the hang of aqua jogging without added resistance, I shut down the laptop and headed to Academy Sports. Happily, they had the Speedo flotation belt ($20). I also picked up two kickboards ($9 each) and some Speedo goggles that I couldn’t resist, simply because they are rainbow-colored (also $20).
I grabbed two kickboards, one for me and one for my youngest, when I make him swim laps. He was on swim team the year before last and out of all the exercises I’ve had him do, he hated it the least. This is what raising computer gaming geeks does. He says “But I’m not fat!” and I say “I’m sorry, but there’s a childhood obesity epidemic and you’re not going to be part of it.” Thirteen-year-olds cannot comprehend the concept of being frail and weak and miserable when they’re old, due to physical deconditioning. Thirteen-year-olds cannot comprehend a lot of future-oriented concepts, which is why adults are in charge. Here he is with his new kickboard and goggles. Pajamas are his fashion choice at the time. He wears almost nothing else:
I crashed for a few hours, then got up and decided to play with my new toys. When I pulled the belt out of the box, it did not look like outside of package. I also failed to notice that it was a large. It doesn’t really matter, both the small and large fit waists (hips?) down d to note that the elastic band on its built-in bra had died a gruesome death. Kind of disappointing for an Athleta product, especially since I hardly wore it last summer, but it wasn’t their performance swimwear, so not sure I can complain overmuch. What I don’t get is why I would have put it back into the drawer at the end of summer. I can’t believe I didn’t throw it away. Did it get stretched out in the drawer? Anyhow, I had to put on a tankini that I bought for a lot cheaper at Kohl’s about 4 years ago that’s still in great shape. Pretty sure I weighed less, too, because my boobs almost popped out of it. Here’s the belt (and tankini:
Let me tell you, the water was COLD. I don’t like cold water. I don’t like cold air and goosebumps, either, but got over it this past winter while running in 32 – 40 degree weather. Started preferring it, actually. Got used to the water fairly quickly, but it sure made me gasp right after I jumped in. I stayed in the deep end, trying to hold myself in the suggested posture, while moving my legs in the recommended way. It’s tougher than it looks – the technique, not the effort. For some reason, I didn’t realize that I was going to be moving around in the pool. I guess I just thought that I was going to be running in place? Physics and math have never been my strong suit.
Various individuals on the web have insinuated that aqua jogging is boring. Jogging in the deep end, going around, and around, and around, definitely has tedium potential. However, working on my form kept me occupied and mentally engaged. I also don’t get bored with silence and lack of movement. My brain is always working on something. People have also stated that music is desperately needed. When I run, this is absolutely true, both to help with my cadence and also to keep my mind off discomfort. However, I, don’t have a waterproof MP3 player and my laptop isn’t coming anywhere near the pool. I do have a radio, but I hate commercials. Decided to make some workout CDs, but wanted to get into the pool immediately today. It was sort of cloudy, looked like it might rain.
When “they” say that proper form is essential in obtaining good benefits from aqua jogging, they are not kidding. You are supposed to maintain a slight forward lean, with shoulders back. If you’re too upright, it’s like marching in place; too far forward and it’s like cycling. Be prepared to be Goldilocks if you want to try this. It’ll be awhile before I’m good enough at it to get bored.
As usual, I jumped right in with both feet. Literally. I chose a recommended interval session of 1 minute of moderate intensity alternated by 30 seconds of easy. I usually run for about 30 minutes so I set it for 30 reps or laps or whatever you want to call it. I figured this would give me about a 45 min workout. I have read that aqua jogging is a rigorous exercise, but I still don’t believe it. Hence the longer time. This was also a “see how it goes” session, but I do see the need for taking some time to practice the proper body mechanics at a slower pace before increasing. The muscles are being asked to do something new and they need time to learn it. I don’t want my muscle memory to remember how to do it the wrong way. I was never out of breath and I doubt my heart rate increased much. I did experience some muscle fatigue in my hamstrings, and a little in my calves, usually around the end of the minute of moderate intensity. It was nothing major.
I got my new Garmin watch (Forerunner 310XT) right after my hip started hurting, so I hadn’t had much chance to use it. I did walk around the neighborhood last week with it and was delighted with how well it worked. Today I programmed it for the intervals, so I wouldn’t have to watch it the whole time. I also kept the GPS on, fully realizing that it doesn’t work if it’s submerged. So I held my left wrist above water the whole time. I’m sure it made for terrible form and probably made it more difficult to maintain proper positioning, but I don’t intent to do it again. Just wanted to get a sense of distance, even though that’s not really my focus. Staying in shape and not losing ground is my main motivation.
Initially I wanted an Ironman RunTrainer, but when the Garmin went on sale for only $10 more, I had to get it. I’m not a triathlete and have no intention of becoming one. I figured it was way more watch than I needed, because I only swim laps (lazily) in the summer and I don’t even own a bike. However, it’s turned out to be an unexpected boon, because it’s fabulous for reminding me of interval changes while aqua jogging. Even better, when I do use it for swimming laps, it vibrates as well as beeps to let you know (with a 5 second countdown, no less). This is going to be very handy when I’m in the water and can’t hear the beeps. In addition, it is waterproof, while the Ironman was water resistant. On a side note, I was thinking that I might take it on the boat when we go fishing in the gulf with my dad this summer, then uploading our route just for fun. I also just bought a Nikon Coolpix with GPS, so I may very well upload pictures to Google Earth. It just sounds like fun. 🙂
The Garmin informed me that my workout today was 52:41, with 5 min warm-up and 2.5 min cool-down (sue me, I was bored and hungry by that time). It also said that I went exactly 0.27 miles and burned 9 calories, LOL. I noticed that there was a “running dude” icon, so next time I should probably set it to the swim setting. It can be set to run, swim, or bike (see, I told you it was cool).
LiveStrong.com stated that “A 135-pound person burn [sic] 472 calories in an hour of aqua jogging” so I figure I burned about 200 or 250.
I had no hip pain at all. Unlike high-impact running, I think I can do this every day. I still need to write up a dry land low impact workout and set a schedule, but there are more web sites to check out for ideas.
If you’re interested in aqua jogging, here’s a good primer: