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"When I was injured aqua-jogging was one of the best training methods I had to keep myself fit. In the build up to the 2000 Olympics I had a calf injury and I only started running on the track again six weeks before the Games. I spent most of my time doing a lot of cross training in the gym on various cardiovascular machines and a lot of pool sessions and still managed to win a bronze medal in the 800m."

 

- Dame Kelly Holmes

 

Aqua-jogging is a great way for injured athletes to keep fit by replicating sessions you would normally do on the grass, track or road in a swimming pool. It is effective for people with lower limb injuries and for maintaining a really good aerobic base.

 

As you are trying to simulate training outside make sure that you warm up properly, stretch where needed and, when your body is able to, perform quality drills.

 

Warm up on a bike for 10-15 minutes or in the pool for 10 minutes (running not swimming). For a pool warm up ensure technique is adhered to and use a combination of arms and legs or legs only. It is advisable to stretch after a bike warm up and after the session, especially if hip flexors and calves are tight.

 

For aqua-jogging sessions in a pool you need to wear a buoyancy aid round your waist to keep you afloat so that you can run in the water. Ensure the water that you train in is deep enough so that your feet don’t hit the bottom when you run. Make sure you get your running technique right in the water.

 

Correct vertical posture

 

The key to any safe, effective exercise or movement is correct body alignment. Initially, as you adjust to the buoyancy aid, you may find yourself hunching over in the water. To adapt to this new environment and attain the correct body position, lean back slightly and try a small flutter kick with your feet directly under you.

 

Do not compensate with other body parts in order to perform a movement. As you exercise aim for an even counterbalance between your arms and legs, like when you walk. Vertical body alignment not only protects against back strain, but also strengthens your back, abdominals and surrounding muscles.

 

Checklist for vertical body alignment

 

  • Head up
  • Chest lifted
  • Shoulders positioned directly above hips
  • Abdominals tight (don’t hold your breath!)
  • Buttocks squeezed together and slightly tucked under (pelvic tilt)

 

Below are some examples of pool sessions. It is essential that the repetitions replicate the intensity you expect to get from a session on a track - shorten recovery, increase repetitions and up the tempo of the repetitions. There are never any easy reps just hard, harder and harder still!!

 

Pool Session 1 - 56:30 mins (23 mins hard)

 

  • 10 mins easy warm up
  • 5 x 3 mins hard (90 secs recovery)
  • 2 mins easy
  • 4 x 2 mins hard (60 secs recovery)
  • 10 mins easy warm down

 

Pool Session 2 - 48 mins (14:40 mins hard)

 

  • 10 mins easy warm up
  • 5 mins hard (3 mins recovery)
  • 10 x 30 secs (30 secs recovery)
  • 3 mins easy
  • 3 mins hard (90 secs recovery)
  • 5 x 20 secs (10 secs recovery) - 10 mins easy warm down

 

Pool Session 3 - 44:30 or 69 mins (15 or 30 mins hard)

 

  • 10 mins easy warm up
  • 5 mins hard (3 mins recovery)
  • 4 mins hard (2 mins recovery)
  • 3 mins hard (90 secs recovery)
  • 2 mins hard (1 min recovery)
  • 1 min hard (2 mins recovery)
  • Repeat work out if required,
  • 10 mins easy warm down
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