I talked a little bit about my trainer and my bike trainer before, but thought I'd elaborate a little on the other new things that this stress fracture has introduced into my life:
My trainer incorporates TRX a lot when she is working with me. It is a suspension device which utilizes your own body weight to do exercises. I think the fact that this piece of equipment is respected so much in the fitness community and not relegated to a "one piece of equipment does it all!" infomercial-type offering is nothing short of marketing genius. Because really, it could have gone either way.
You can get a full body workout with these straps. Legs, core, upper body, and stretching. I decided to get my own TRX so I could train at home when I wasn't seeing my trainer. I bought the Force Kit which came with a booklet and an app that has a 12 week program complete with videos demonstrating all of the moves and how to progress them as you get better. The app is amazing and I highly recommend it. We have a chin-up bar I hang the system from, but you can also use an attachment to make any door an anchor point.
I'm in the 7th week of the program and am really enjoying it.
2) Pool Running
Pool running goes by a lot of names (deep water running, aquajogging) and involves running in deep water. I have read differing opinions on whether or not you should use a flotation belt but for now I am using one. I have also read differing opinions on what sort of leg motion is the best to do. I have personally settled on mimicking the normal running stride as much as possible and I try to spend time concentrating on the kick back which is something that is lacking in my running form.
Pool running was one of the first things my sports medicine doctor suggested I try when I was first diagnosed with my stress fracture. Unfortunately, I did not have access to a pool and I did not intend to just go buy a belt and show up at a pool and give it a go with no idea of what I was doing. I kept hearing such awesome things about how pool running is a great option for runners that my fears and the lack of convenience were overcome by my desire to elevate my heart rate.
I first ventured into the pool running scene by attending a 6:30 am Deep Water Running class at UCSF. For the record, I am not a morning person. To be in a pool by 6:30 am was nothing short of a Christmas miracle. The fact that one of my classmates and the instructor helped me pick a belt and told me how I wanted it to fit was worth the $15 admission price. This is great because the class was not quite what I was expecting. I was the youngest person there by at least 25 years. It felt more like a water aerobics class than a water running class. Not to knock it, but I was there to get my heart rate up, not to pretend I was stepping over barrels or to do jumping jacks in the deep water. Class fail.
I decided after a second class that I needed to do pool running on my own. I had read a lot about how interval work was the way to go in the water and there didn't seem to be any sort of class geared towards people who wanted to do that sort of a thing. I decided to check out my local YMCA. It was serendipitous as I actually went to try out their Water Running class but I ended up looking at the wrong schedule and stumbled in on open recreational swim. I was told I could strap on a belt and do whatever I liked in the deep end. I was talking to another pool runner in the locker room after. She said she taught water running classes at other locations and confirmed my suspicion that they were mainly geared towards the geriatric or overweight crowd. She told me if cardio fitness was my goal I had to just do hard interval work on my own.
Ever since I started doing the above, I LOVE me my pool running. I'm using Garfield, I have my running hat -- it is the next best thing to real running. It is tough when you up the intensity and it gets my heart rate going. My head even breaks a sweat. I try to really concentrate on engaging my core and moving my legs and arms independently of my torso. I'm hoping some of that muscle memory will translate onto the road later. I am planning on using the pool running in my training even after I am back to regular running again. I may swap out an easy day for a day in the pool or use it as cross training or double days. I've been doing a lot of reading about the pool running online and it seems to work for a lot of people.
3) Gym membership
Related to the above -- I joined a gym so I could have pool access. I've started attending a core strength class once a week and tried out a pilates class as well. I haven't spent any time in the actual weight/cardio gym since I have my TRX at home and have been working with a trainer thus far. But I think it is something I will get into more, especially when my fracture is healed up. After a pool run I'll take a medicine ball outside and do some additional core work.
I am excited about all of the above for a couple of reasons. First, as I mentioned, I think it is important to have strength in order to be the best runner you can be. The "Anatomy for Runners" book talks about how you need to have a strong chassis in order to tap into the power your legs generate. His analogy was firing a cannon from a row boat -- obviously this is disastrous. But if you had a cannon on firm ground you'd get a lot more power. Second, I got into this whole mess because all I wanted to do was run. I am extremely Type A when it comes to training plans. If it is written down I will do everything in my power to get that run workout completed. This leads me to run through aches and pains and niggles. I think down the road if I am experiencing an issue I will be much more likely to skip a run or three if I had another outlet -- get in the pool or on an elliptical or on the bike.
I used to really worry about what would become of me if the day came when I could no longer run. I still worry about it a little -- I don't consider myself an exerciser -- even all this stuff I am doing is for the end game of running. But I feel a little more assured there are other things out there to help fill the void. This year has been a good rehearsal for a show I hope never takes place. And quite possibly all this extra stuff will prolong or prevent that from ever happening.