Tuesday, January 18, 2011

So, does it work?

That's been the question on my mind since I started this pool running extravaganza, some 10 weeks ago.  My progression has been:

a) 7 weeks of nothing save pool-running and the few other things I could do in the aircast (upper body strength-training, modified pilates, front and reverse planks, and hamstring curls/knee extensions using machines).

b) one week of the above plus the arc-trainer, yoga, and walking.

c) 3 weeks of very carefully reintroducing running and leg strength-training.

So, where do I stand, versus where I came in?  Well, I'm a numbers/stats person - here's the numbers/stats.

Fact 1: my resting heart rate has remained in the low 40s throughout.

Fact 2: When I first started the arc-trainer after 7 weeks of nothing but pool running, I was able in short order to crank out slightly less than two hours at an equivalent resistance and RPMs to what I had done before, with my heart rate only about 5 beats per minute higher on average.

Fact 3: On my very first yoga class back, I was able to make it through the full class, including holding my warrior 3 and half moon poses on the bad leg (I was shocked).  I noted a slight loss of flexibility (especially in hamstrings and hip flexors), but strength and stability were there.

Fact 4: As of 10 weeks out, I am using the single leg press at a higher weight than I did pre-injury (was 130# for the single leg press before; now it's 145#).  I haven't reintroduced barbell squats yet, but that's coming shortly.

Fact 5:  After about 3 weeks of running in short dribbles with frequent walk breaks, I'm able to hold ~7:30 pace for 10 minutes without too much effort.  In fact, that's what I did yesterday morning.  It wasn't intentional -- I was just running by feel and focusing on pushing with my glutes, and was shocked by the pace on my Garmin (which was confirmed by timing a few 400m splits on the track I was running on).

I think I could do a tempo run at about 6:50-7:00 pace right now (no worries, I'm not going to try, just yet), which is not too far off of my pre-injury tempo pace of 6:40.

My fitness feels fine; my main limiter seems to be foot and calf muscular strength.  And I've GAINED strength in my hip flexors, resulting in improved running form.

So, in a nutshell, the majority of my fitness seems to have endured (pun intended).  Oh sure, I've gained a few pounds (less than 5), lost some flexibility, and my feet and calves need a lot of work.  But I am NOT starting at zero, and I don't feel all that far behind.  Even better yet, running feels natural, and not strange (as I feared it would).

Wow.  The pool running worked.  You hope and hope, but you're never quite certain.


  1. Yay!! Yet another confirmation story! Amazing how fast you still are!

  2. I always wonder if I'm getting any benefit, even though I've been doing it for a long time. I think this is great news for ALL of us. Thanks for sacrificing yourself to this experiment. :) But seriously, congrats and major props to you for being able to withstand this much pool running over the past 10 weeks. Amazing.

  3. Ditto to what Katie said! You are clearly the poster child for doing pool training hard core and correctly, too. Intervals, tempos, training runs, etc. Well done!

  4. Agreed! This is awesome. Congrats on the run the other day - your hard work definitely shows!

  5. Wow! That's major huge great news. Unbelievable how fast you've returned, or rather, thanks to the pool, you barely even left. Congrats!

  6. Yes, I've determined that it worked for me too. No obvious loss in fitness (although I was also doing spinning, but not a ton). My upper body form is a lot better than it was pre-injury -- I run more upright and swing my arms and relax my hands like I'm s'posed to.

  7. Very cool! That's great news!! :)