Part 3: Cross Training
I’m the first to confess that I am not a cross trainer and for me there’s not much pretty or fast about cross training (unflattering athletic swim suits and the same black capri pants every and I mean every day… and trapped indoors… pass). Gym equipment scares me and I don’t like to be confined to the four walls of a gym. Up to this point in my running career my cross training consisted of weight training (many, many years ago), Pilates and yoga. Yoga was obviously out at this point since it was a simple yoga pose that put me over the edge. I figured strength training via weights would be good option, but what about cardio? Turns out my only 2 options were the bike and aqua jogging. For me swimming was not an option, it’s been years since I’ve been a pool outside of vacation (try decades, the 80’s) so I found myself at the IMA on the cardio deck on a bike and in the diving well at the pool.
The bike as I said early wasn’t so bad, but my coach was concerned that it would ruin my stride, so I wasn’t supposed to bike with too much resistance and the rpm couldn’t be too fast. This posed a serious issue because I couldn’t get my heart rate going without resistance or rpm. I finally found a balance and read 3 or 4 books in the process. My sessions were only 45 minutes, sometimes split with the pool and only 5 times a week.
As for aqua jogging to say I was scared would be an understatement. My only experience with aqua jogging was 6:00AM mornings my junior year in high school after my appendix had ruptured. I’ve tried to block out most of those memories, but they weren’t pleasant. Our trainer would tether me to the side of the pool and tell me to run as hard as I could. There is nothing more frustrating than trying as hard as you can only to remain stationary. This go-around was different though. I’d stopped running for a week or two before I gave in and got in the pool. I was really ready to run. I slipped on my royal blue Nike swimsuit and headed through the locker room to the pool.
It was around 5 or 6 in the evening. It was a nice day so most of the co-eds were on the cardio deck or in class. I had the diving well to myself. I spotted the aqua belts and made my way over to them, now a funning thing about aqua belts. They have changed a lot since 1994. These had 2 parts and it took me a few minutes to figure them out. Once tightly fastened around my mid section I jumped in, okay I didn’t jump; I slowly climbed down the ladder and, well, just floated. Now what? Run. But how?
I started flailing my arms and legs and somehow managed an awkward running motion. It wasn’t pretty, but I was mostly under water so who cared, I was running! The pool was quiet, the sun was peaking through the dark clouds and I found myself in a little sun spot in the pool. If I closed my eyes it was like I was outside without a care in the world. I moved up and down the side of the pool, and just as quickly as I started I was over.
I wish all of the pool sessions were like that but they weren’t. Eventually I learned that I needed to do interval training 3-4 times a week to keep in shape. I managed 3 most weeks and then did a spin class or a stair workout on the other day (check out Pfizinger’s plan I followed and completed almost every workout http://pfitzinger.com/labreports/9wkH2O.htm) . I also learned you would run the parameter of the diving well and pray to God that no one else was in there with you.
Most days I was not alone but there were some regulars; the injured college runner (always females), the girl with the ankle sprain and ear phones and stocking cap, and the girl that ran with weights (not sure what she did with those underwater dumbbells but she was fit!). Those were the good days. We all knew and understood diving well etiquette. The bad days were filled with ROTC class that didn’t know how to share the pool, the frat guys doing tricks off the diving board for each other, the random students doing tricks off the diving board at 6:00AM (the life guards were concerned for his safety several times), the couples date night (super awkward), the women in shorts, a long sleeve shirt, sandals, scuba goggles and a swim cap just floating in the middle of the pool and who could forget the “I’m going to swim laps in the diving well even though there are 4 perfectly good lanes to swim laps” in people just to highlight the best of the best.
It was a long stint of aqua jogging, much longer than expected, close to 3 months. My royal blue Nike swimsuit faded to lavender and I thought I would never set foot on dry ground again. Days turned to weeks and I thought my second Dr. was right, my running on land days just might be over. But change was just around the corner in the most unexpected way.