5 reasons for runners to love aquajogging

Yes, this is what I look like when aquajogging.

Yes, this is what I look like when aquajogging too.

Aquajogging has a reputation of being, well, dull. There’s something about thrashing your legs around doing laps in tepid water that just doesn’t match the pizzaz of skipping along a hilly trail.

I’ve been spending some time in the pool myself, by necessity. If I’d known in March the achilles still wouldn’t be fully healed 5 months later I would have been dead unimpressed, but it is what it is. There’s a gradual improvement which has allowed an increasing amount of running, so I’m sticking with an aquajog a week for now. Here, partly to convince myself, are some reasons it’s not so bad:

1. Eavesdropping on older ladies’ chat.

My new gang have an average age of 73, and after two hours in the water I can be nearly as wrinkly. But there’s something very refreshing about listening in on their conversations.

So-and-so has a reprieve on the big illness, but his hip’s playing up again. The soup kitchen was really busy on Friday night, so we’re taking along more rice next week. The grandchildren are staying over on Sunday. There’s something weird about seeing your children turn 60 when you don’t feel old..

These charitable, cheerful women (it’s 95% women, not sure why) give my perception a good kick and temporarily having a bit of a sore foot suddenly doesn’t seem too big a deal.

2. It makes real runs seem great 

When I’m in the pool, I stare wistfully out at Minogue Park and imagine I’m springing around barefoot on the grass – admittedly, in winter, Minogue Park is often indistinguishable from the dive pool.

Thus, when I am springing around barefoot on the grass or doing any other run that doesn’t involve togs, it feels excellent in comparison. During the Hawks club cross country we pass the pool so I gazed through the window and thought ‘Suckers! This is SO much more fun.’ And also, ‘See you on Wednesday.’

3. It helps your injuries.

This, after all, is the main reason we aquajog. I’m still not convinced there’s much of a cardio workout in there, but there’s something, and it seems to help inflammation. Last week the pool was closed so I went wild and did a 30 minute jog the day after the Hawks speed session. The achilles responded like a grouchy two year old: “But I don’t LIKE consecutive days of real running. WHERE’S MY AQUAJOG?”

Speaking of two year olds, our resident one informed me yesterday she’d hurt the achilles in her elbow. Perhaps mine’s had too much air time.

4. Deb Nicholl does it.

Deb Nicholl is awesome. I’ve suspected this for some time, but she recently ran nearly 240 kilometres in ONE DAY. That’s 24 hours. That’s an average of 10k an hour. But 24 times. (I’m pretty impressed by this feat, as you can tell). Anyway, Deb supports her run training and staves off injury with a solid amount of aquajogging, like ‘2 hours a day before it’s light’ kind of carry on. We chatted about this at Tarawera, and her dedication has stuck with me when I feel grizzly about getting in the water.

Also, the Chiefs aquajog, if you’re into that kind of thing. The other day they were doing a water session in the adjacent pool and I was trying to indicate ‘not perving, just trying to steal your aquajog moves. Really, I’m not at all into rugby’ in my glances, with limited success.

diver5. Peace and thinking time

Another word for dull is peaceful. Aquajogging demands very little thinking, and makes a nice respite from home/work/activity. You can write blogs in your head (voila!), plan for work, and generally meander mentally. You can watch the deep sea divers training underneath and hope their bubbles don’t tickle you. You can give scores to the kids/adults doing bombs, or the actual divers doing actual dives.

Um.

You can count the pool seats. You can muse on why only certain parts of the diving boards are consistently dirty underneath..

OK, after an hour or so, it sometimes just is dull. That’s when the quietness drives you to hitherto unplumbed depths of ingenuity. I conceived of a plan involving these items:

cap ipod and breastmilk bagAdd some of my favourite UltraRunner podcasts and you have a recipe for true contentment.¬†Would it work? I tried a prototype and got in, without realising it looked odd. Eventually the lifeguard couldn’t contain herself any longer.

lifeguard

Overall, the invention gets a big tick (despite effectively negating my points 1 and 5, but you need variety). Instead of puddlng round in circles, I’m now chilling with Hal Koerner at Hardrock. It’s not so bad.

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