The pool is a junkyard of maligned runners, an island of misfit toys, a scene from ‘Lord of the Flies’ in which a man clearly out of his element is forced to contend with a new and hostile reality, all-the-while reeking of chlorine and shame.
In the interest of avoiding long-term injury, I have willfully made this 82 degree nightmare my home.
As I flop along in some demented version of a doggy paddle*, alternating laps with and without the buoyancy belt, I strive to make this new reality slightly less unpleasant than it otherwise might be. I concoct workouts that mimic those I might be doing on the track located–somewhat cruelly–just outside the window.
The Waterfall: 5 minutes on, 5 minutes off, 4 on, 4 off, etc., until the lifeguard comes and asks if you’d like swimming lessons.
The Fight-For-Sweet-Sweet-Life: Take off the buoyancy belt for two laps, then put it on again for a recovery lap. Repeat until drowning suddenly seems more attractive than carrying on this sick charade any longer.
Now, quick sidenote, I’m not actually as ungrateful as I may have appeared over the previous few paragraphs. I realize that the ability to use a pool for recovery is actually a great privilege. In fact, you, dear reader, should feel some small amount of gratitude as well. Had I not had access to the pool, this may have been the moment I stopped telling you about running, and starting telling you what was happening on HGTV (Note: Some bullshit on Azaleas now, but a potentially interesting special on Tudor Revivals after that).
Additionally, I had the good sense (read: Will Bernaldo‘s good sense) to try this before my aches and pains became debilitating injuries. So, yeah, there’s that.
It may be small consolation, and I may still be unable to scrub off the chlorine (or the shame), but I’m happy to have averted catastrophe for the next week. And truly, nothing makes a man long for an interval workout, or a 10-mile tempo run, or–god forbid–a real race quite like my present ordeal. I’ll come back, and I’ll do it with renewed vigor and obnoxiousness (‘Hey guys! Great day for Twenty 400s at mile pace, ain’t it?!’).
So bide your time well, my friends.
Irresponsibly Amped Up Song of the Week goes to: These Guys.
* Water running allows the runner to replicate (badly) the form and cardiovascular effects of running, without the land, or notion of progress. Seriously, you’re zipping along at a whopping .2 mph while the women doing Water Aerobics in the next lane regard you with pity and confusion.