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home : sports & recreation : sports & recreation September 25, 2017

7/11/2017 10:44:00 AM
Running commentary
By Charlie Kanzig

Last week as I moved slowly along the west wall in the deep end of the Tollgate pool, faithfully doing my "aqua-jogging" workout, I allowed myself to consider how mind-numbingly boring the activity could be.

Inching along at what must equate to about half a mile an hour, trying to keep some semblance of running form while trying to anticipate the waves kicked up by swimmers in the next lane.

This came the day after speaking at the cross-country camp about "the mind of a runner" and intrinsic and extrinsic motivation related to running. Catching myself going negative, I quickly switched mental gears and engaged my imagination, moving myself from the watery boredom to running down a favorite forest trail. This worked for a couple of laps before I returned to the present situation and felt myself struggling to relax my shoulders and breathe evenly.

I tried pushing the pace for a bit, sort of like in an interval workout, and that helped me pass some more time. The three other swimmers had taken a break and began talking about the fender-bender at the roundabout and tossed around opinions about the need for a bypass for the big trucks that rumble through the core of town. I started to join the debate and then realized it would do nothing to improve my workout or my standing with the group and focused once again on the idea of actually running through the forest, with some degree of success.

Needless to say, I look forward with hope to when/if I can be out on the trails a bit more. After over a year of trying to cope with some sort of rheumatoid issues, I have ventured out a bit on foot again with a max effort of 3,000 meters, after which I jokingly posted on Facebook a sighting of a giant sloth in the woods outside of Tollgate. Some other aging, out-of-shape friends reported similar sloths in their neighborhoods, giving us all a dose of good humor.

Yesterday at about 5 p.m. it was still over 90 degrees and I had been going non-stop all day, doing errands, mowing the lawn, limbing trees, when I noticed an internal nudge that I had not experienced for quite some time. The nudge was my body telling me I needed to go to the pool for my "run."

This physiological and psychological phenomenon used to happen to me all the time when I was younger and training for marathons and other races. I am sure scientists have done studies on this, but all I know is my body and mind's urge to go run was sometimes as strong as my urge to eat or drink. I felt a sense of great joy because for the past few years, getting out to exercise had become a chore that involved some significant pain at times. Even though I was tired from the day's activities, I got my towel and flotation belt and headed to the pool for an hour-long "run."

When I arrived I saw my neighbors who asked what I was up to, so I explained the "aqua-running" and I told them about the need to really employ my imagination and picture different trails that have been my favorites over the years as I motated through the water. Being middle-aged themselves, they related to the aches and pains of this time of life and wished me an enthusiastic "Have a great run!" as they left.

One of the other challenges of aqua running is that you don't feel your effort the same way as out on the trail. In the summer, even on a cool morning, I get hot quickly when running. I breathe in the dust and feel the undulations of the geography. In the pool, there is no dust, no sweating, no hills. I am tired when I get done in the pool, but was wondering if the workouts were having any effect.

Then I went for a REAL run this morning.

I headed out our back gate with my dogs, Raven and Kinzua, who could not believe that we were going for a real run with "Dad." From the very first step, I noticed that the old body was feeling better than it had in at least two years. The aqua running was having a positive effect! I completed a couple of miles and felt I could have gone further if not for the challenge of staying untangled with two leashed dogs.

So through the summer I hope to continue my journey both in the pool and - more and more - on the trails. Not sure what I'll do when the Tollgate pool closes down in September ... maybe it's time for me to help champion an effort for a Sisters pool!

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