Aqua jogging: A primer

aqua belt

I wore this size small aqua belt to jog in the pool. I had to make it extra tight to keep it from slipping up!

As a runner who is injured, and has some significant races lined up this year, the last thing I wanted to do was spend time in the pool. First because I am not really a fan of swimming, and second because it means I must be pretty hurt.

Well, hurt I am. So it wasn’t without some effort that I lost my aqua jogging virginity today.

It seemed like gearing up for this new adventure in injuryland was harder than the actual workout. Sure I was breathing heavily and my face was red when I returned to the locker room, but I didn’t feel like I’d just spend 30 minutes running — not until several hours later, when I noticed my arms and legs were a little sore. Guess low-impact isn’t so bad after all.

Here’s the actual primer part of this blog post:

Research

Before just heading to the gym and hopping into the pool, I had to do some homework. It wasn’t like I could show up, do a cannon ball and then pool run my way back to health. In fact, I wasn’t even calling it the right thing. I was a novice for certain.

Turns out, a Google search for “pool running” didn’t yield too many helpful results. Once I stumbled upon the term “aqua jogging” a few days later (i.e., 15 minutes before my first date with the pool) and Googled that, it was on.

I came across two articles that helped me get up and running, if you will:

  1. Ask Flash: Deep Water Running 101
  2. Aqua Jogging

Shoes

I knew from a conversation with my doctor last week that I couldn’t just go barefoot. (Um, what?) I had to actually buy running shoes made specifically for water sports. We’re not talking aqua socks either. We’re talking real running shoes, except made with vents and different materials.

He said that due to my injury, I could get tired when I get to the shallow end of the pool and start using the ball of my foot, which would put pressure on the spot that’s not supposed to have high-impact anything. That’s why I need to protect my feet, even when they’re submerged in the pool.

My doctor said Ryka makes a good shoe, but I’m one impatient patient and I had two options: either run out and buy some water shoes at Fleet Feet or hit up amazon.com and make use of my Prime membership (a sweet deal in which I pay $75 a year and get “free” two-day shipping on most purchases).

Well, Fleet Feet told me on the phone that they don’t carry water running shoes, so I hopped online, exhaustively read the Amazon customer reviews for a bunch of water shoes and settled on a cute yet practical pair of New Balance SW820s in grey. Side bar: Not only are they comfortable, but they look really adorable with jeans too.

Tunes

I don’t know how people can run without music. I’ve got to have my iPod cranking some high-energy, makes-me-want-to-move-faster tunes. Pool running is no exception. I decided if I was going to do it, I would need to have some headphones.

I looked at some bag contraptions that were supposed to keep your iPod dry, but I paid too much money for that device to cross my fingers and hope water didn’t seep in. So after some research I decided to buy a FINIS XtreaMp3 waterproof MP3 player.

It was a good idea in theory.

I’m a Mac user and there aren’t too many options out there for us. FINIS is Mac-friendly. All I had to do was convert some files in iTunes to mp3 files, drag them to the mp3 player’s folder on my desktop and voila! it should have worked fine.

I downloaded 30 songs, putting them in two separate folders (which should have been recognized by the player as two separate playlists, according to the instructions.) The same song repeated over and over again — even if I switched playlists. I would have rather not had music at all. I hope the repeating was because I improperly removed the device’s USB cord from my computer. I will re-trace my steps to find out. If that doesn’t fix it, back to Amazon it goes!

Technique

The two articles above I found using Google were each helpful in giving me some guidelines about technique and form. It was a little too technical for me, so here’s what I gleaned:

  1. Wear a flotation belt to keep your body from shoulders down submerged.
  2. Lean forward when you run in the water.
  3. Pump your arms vigorously and keep your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle.
  4. Clench your fists so you don’t paddle.
  5. You can move forward or stay in one spot. (I chose to move.)
  6. Move your legs in an exaggerated land-running-like stride.
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