It’s sunny; it’s warming up; it should be time to get out my wetsuit. If only my arm weren’t in a sling… The big question when your injured is, is do I keep form (and sane) when I can’t go swimming?
I’ve been working out like a fiend. My first event on the season is on June 11th; a lovely starter swimming a mile around Windermere as part of the Great North Swim. Last year, I did it in 35 minutes with cramp in both calves. All year I’ve been training with the aim of getting sub-30 minutes. All year. Only thanks to a little wobble on my bike, I now have a fracture in my left elbow.
As I’ve blogged before, swimming is my time out, my escape as well as my exercise. It’s so important to me mentally and physically. So not only do I need to keep sane, I also want to be able to get round the lake in just under eight weeks’ time.
The answer for the exercise part is high impact interval training (HIIT). Following the principles of Jillian Michaels creator of the 30 Day Shred, I’ll be doing a 20 minute workout five days a week that comprise of three minutes strength, two minutes CV and one minute abs. The question is what exercises, and how can I keep my upper body strength?
Cardio and abs are easy; high knees, high feet, jogging on the spot, ropeless skipping, and at the gym static bike and cross trainer. I can also continue with ab curls, crunches, leg lifts and so on. Strength is trickier. Unable to push weights, the focus switches to lunges in all directions, squats, core rotation, some with a dumbell in my good hand to add resistance and keep my upper body strong.
But trickier still is the mind game. With yoga and swimming on hold, and also being unable to drive or work, the chances of getting bored are very high. Walking has to be a good start. There’s more scope for a wandering mind than when focussing on your stroke while swimming; I’ve been walking since I was 12 months old, so I don’t have to think about form. But at least I’ll be out there in the world.
I’m also going to try meditation and maybe dig out my old sketch book. Perhaps by viewing this as an opportunity to try things I don’t do normally, I won’t lose the plot!
Of course the moment I can, I’ll be back in the pool and lake. Swimming is wonderful for rehabilitation after injury, and is recommended by physiotherapists. My trouble, I know, is that I’ll push it. Starting with water walking with gentle pulling, I’ll progress to a one-armed stroke, and then a gentle stroke.
I’ve been very lucky that my radial head fracture (a crack in the nobbly bit at the end of the radius that sits in the elbow) is stable, and that means it can be exercised as the pain allows. I hope that by June 11th, I’ll be strong enough for a gentle swim around Lake Windermere.
Armless 20 min HIIT Circuit*
- Warm-up (2 mins)
- 30 secs running on the spot
- 30 secs high knees
- 15 secs neck rolls
- 15 secs shoulder rolls
- 30 secs high knees
- Set 1
- Strength: 45 secs static squat with abdo twist, 45 secs side lunges – repeat
- Cardio: 30 secs butt kicks, 30 secs jumping jacks – repeat
- Abs: 60 secs sit ups
- Set 2
- Strength: 45 secs lift left leg and raise dumbell with good arm, 45 secs squat walking, 45 secs lift right leg and raise dumbell with good arm, 45 secs squat walking.
- Cardio: 30 secs high knees, 30 secs ropeless skipping – repeat
- Abs: 60 secs ankle taps (with good arm – lean towards you ankle on the other side)
- Set 3
- Strength: 45 secs lunge with good arm bicep curl, 45 secs step through lunge – repeat
- Cardio: 30 secs grapevine with abdo twist, 30 secs lunge jump – repeat
- Abs: 60 secs full crunch – lifting legs as you sit up.
- Cool down and stretch
*I’m neither a medically trained physio nor a qualified trainer – please check with your medical practitioners before exercising.