Tag: elliptical

Injured Again

Activities to Keep You Fit

By Dave Dunham

Being injured sucks! I’ve found that just as there is no secret to training (train harder and you’ll get better), there is no secret to avoiding injury. As depressing as it sounds, if you run enough you will mostly likely get injured. I’ve been running for over 35 years and have accumulated more than 800 injuries and missed 1,600 days along the way. I can’t say I’ve learned much from all of those lost days other than I hate missing even one of them.

Being injured is a lonely proposition. Most, if not all, of my friends are runners and it just isn’t comfortable talking about running with an injured comrade. Most of my “social” time is during a training run so without the daily fix I find that I end up being stuck talking to myself a lot. This double-whammy of not getting out running and also being cut-off from a part of my life adds gloominess to my day. One way around this would be getting others to join me in alternative exercise (not easy to do). Another would be to bike alongside my running buddies. It wouldn’t be a workout but it would fulfill the missing social interaction.

I’ve found that almost always there is some kind of alternative exercise that can be used to stay fit during downtime. Each of them has pros and cons and all require MUCH more mental focus and time to get the equivalent of a normal running workout. For me the best plan has been to mix multiple alternative exercises and split them up during the day. That way I can maintain the high focus needed to get a “real” workout during the mindless hours on a stationary bike or running in the water for hours and not really getting anywhere. If you enjoy running on a treadmill then you already have the mental capability to do most alternative exercises. The ones I’ve found most effective are water running, biking, ElliptiGo, rowing, Nordic track, and Elliptical.

Water running is the closest thing to real running without the impact of it. I only do this outdoors now as doing this in a pool is just torture. Although saying that, at one point I was putting in two 90 minute sessions in a pool that was so small a “lap” took less than one minute. I use an Aqua Jogger belt which helps you float in a running position.

You have to be in water deep enough that you are not touching bottom and just run like you would on dry land. I use a wet suit for warmth (October in Stiles Pond can be downright uncomfortable), special water running shoes that add resistance, and webbed gloves to add arm resistance. With all that in place you can manage a fairly decent workout. I’ve got two extra Aqua Joggers and once in a while have been able to con others into a long water run with me. One time Dan Verrington and the Quintal Brothers (Dave and Mike) joined me for a 3 hour run at Stiles. We broke it up with “sprints” to some of the docks and a lot of chatter along the way. It was almost like a regular Sunday run!

The author on the EliptiGo. Photo by Rose Washak.

The author on the EliptiGo. Photo by Rose Washak.

Stationary bike is my “go to” alternative training. I have an excellent old Tunturi bike in my basement which means I can ride any time I want. Having the bike so easily available makes it convenient to just jump on at all hours of the day with weather never being a factor. I also prefer the indoor bike because I can read at the same time. I’ve set up a book stand on the bike and plunked it down in front of the TV/DVD player; that way I can keep distracted during long rides. I’ve also got a road bike and a mountain bike which gets me outside when the mood strikes and the weather is decent.

ElliptiGo is my latest training tool; I just acquired one at the beginning of September. The ElliptiGo (or Go) is a real head turner. It is a cross between a bike and an elliptical trainer. Being able to workout outside is a major attraction of this device that also makes the rider stand out in a crowd. The Go gives a great cardio workout with a motion similar to running but it also works on your core as you have to balance. If you can bike you can ride the Go and the learning curve is short. Within ten days of purchase I was up to doing a 26 mile ride at 15+ miles per hour. What a blast!

Concept 2 rowing machine is a long time alternative I’ve used since back in the late 80’s. The Concept 2 is a great upper body workout and also works your core and legs while having no impact. I have never been able to do more than 15 minutes at any time on this device. The hard plastic seat is very rough on this bony runner’s bum. I like to mix rowing with indoor biking; it breaks up the monotony.

Nordic Track Classic Skier can be a solid workout, again with no impact. I’ve got one but it mostly is just used as a drying rack for my wet biking gear. The few times I used it I found it to be very difficult to put in enough time to get any benefit. It was just too boring.

Elliptical machine is the final item in my workout room, and it is the one I’ve used the least. It is a relatively cheap model which may be why I’ve avoided it, no bells nor whistles make it mind-numbing to use for any length of time. It is good to have as many weapons in your arsenal as possible, so if it came down to it and the elliptical was the best workout for whatever the current injury was I’d use it. I might look more closely at using it more now with the added incentive of keeping “ElliptiGo” fit for racing on the Go in the spring.

I encourage everyone to get out there and always “Be careful out there.” Be especially careful if you are outside biking or Go-ing. It’s been an eye opener to see the number of people out there who aren’t wearing a helmet. Be smart; be safe; live to run another day.

Despite his injuries Dave Dunham has run well over 100,000 miles. This article originally appeared in the Nov/Dec 2013 issue of Level Renner. Get your free subscription today (box in upper right portion of screen).

How Should You Train When Running is not an Option? The Elliptical as a Cross Training Alternative

Guest blog by Jeff Gaudette, courtesy of RunnersConnect

A few weeks ago, we examined the benefits of aqua jogging for injured runners and provided some sample workouts to help keep you as fit as possible during time off.

Unfortunately, not all runners are able to take advantage of aqua jogging when they are injured because it requires a pool deep enough to run in.

So, what is the next best cross-training solution for runners?

The closest equivalent to running: The elliptical

After aqua jogging, the elliptical machine is a runner’s best choice for cross training equipment. The movement of the elliptical closely mimics running form, but without the impact, and you can easily monitor and change the intensities.

More importantly, elliptical machines are widely available in most gyms, making them an easy cross training solution.

In this article, I am going to share some of the research regarding the potential benefits of elliptical training for runners as well as a few workouts to keep your heart pounding and your fitness sustained.

The benefits of elliptical training

Obviously, there is no exact substitute for running, but elliptical training can provide some fitness benefits for injured runners or those that need to cross train to supplement mileage.

While direct comparisons between elliptical training and running are limited in scientific research, I did uncover some data about how elliptical training and running compare.

In one study, researchers compared oxygen consumption, energy expenditure, and heart rate on a treadmill versus an elliptical when exercising at the same effort (perceived level of exertion). The results indicated that while heart rate was slightly higher on the elliptical, oxygen consumption and energy expenditure were similar on both machines.

As such, the researchers concluded that “during a cross training or noncompetition-specific training phase, an elliptical device is an acceptable alternative to a treadmill.”

A 2004 study reviewed the apparent differences in heart rate on the treadmill compared to the elliptical machine. While the researchers did not find the same elevated heart rate levels seen in the previously mentioned study, they did find that the rating of perceived exertion (RPE) was the same in the chest and actually more intense for the legs on the elliptical compared to the treadmill (presumably from the incline). As such, the researchers concluded that using RPE as a measurement of effort can produce fitness results similar to running.

Finally, another study compared metabolic and cardio-respiratory improvements following a 12-week training program using and elliptical trainer versus a treadmill. The researchers found that when training volumes and intensities were equivalent on the treadmill and elliptical, physiological adaptations remained relatively the same.

The results of these limited studies suggests that while the elliptical is not a perfect substitution for running, it will allow you to maintain fitness during time off from training.

The only potential drawback to the elliptical machine for injured runners is that it can still aggravate some injuries, despite the lack of impact. Such injuries include stress fractures, achilles injuries, and the IT band. So, be careful and listen to your body when on the elliptical.

Sample elliptical workouts

Easy elliptical training and RPMs

 Easy elliptical workouts should be performed between 65-75 percent of maximum heart rate.

During a typical easy run, you would have a stride rate that is equivalent to a cadence that is 90 rpm (rotations per minute) on an elliptical. So, for easy elliptical sessions and breaks between intervals, lower the resistance and incline on the elliptical so you can maintain a rhythm of 90 rpm.

As a note, some elliptical machines measure stride rate, which measures both legs, so the stride rate would 180.

Easy elliptical sessions should be used for recovery between hard workouts (just like you need in running) or general maintenance if you’re not injured and using the elliptical to supplement mileage.

In general, you should replicate your time running on an average easy day with time on the elliptical.

So, if your normal easy run is 45-50 minutes, then you would use an elliptical for 45-50 minutes.

I prefer a lower incline since it more closely mimics the running motion.

Medium effort elliptical workouts

Medium elliptical workout should be 87-92 percent of the maximum heart rate. This is what you would consider a hard tempo run effort or comfortably hard.

Maintain 90 rpm, but increase the resistance or the incline to elevate your heart rate and effort to appropriate levels.

Medium elliptical sessions are great for runners who are injury prone and want to perform more intense workouts, but can’t add the volume to their training without getting injured. They are also good as “maintenance” days for injured runners.

The workouts will help keep your heart rate up, but aren’t so killer that you can’t perform them daily.

To make the workouts longer or shorter, simply adjust the number of repetitions.

1. 10 minutes easy w/u
6 x 5 mins hard
3 mins easy
5 mins easy c/d

2. 10 minutes easy w/u
1,2.3,4.5,6,5,4,3,2,1 minutes hard w/2min easy btwn all
5 min easy c/d

3. 10 minutes easy w/u
1 min medium, 1 min hard, 1 min medium, 1 min hard
1 min easy (x6)
5 min easy c/d

4. 10 minutes easy w/u
1:00 hard, 30 sec easy, 30 sec hard:, 30 sec easy, 2:00 hard
:30 easy (continue building up until 5:00, and then come back down by :30 second intervals)
10 min easy c/d

Hard effort elliptical workouts

 Hard elliptical workouts should be performed at 95-100 percent of the maximum heart rate. This would be considered a VO2max or speed workout type effort.

Again, maintain 90 rpm and increase the resistance to achieve the desired effort level.

Hard efforts are great for the inured runner who needs to maintain fitness and train to get back in shape fast. You should do no more than two or three of these hard workouts per week. You still need recovery even though the impact is lessened.

1. 10 min easy w/20 min medium pace
3 x 3 mins hard w/90 sec easy
5 min c/d

2. 10 min easy w/u
start at level 1 and increase resistance every 4 minutes for 35-40 minutes
5 min c/d (this is a simulated hill workout)

3. 10 min easy w/u
5 min medium, 2 min hard, 5 min medium, 2min hard, 2 min easy, (x 3)
5 min easy c/d

Final thoughts

Cross training can be tough, especially when you’re injured or want to be increasing your volume faster.

By providing a variety of workouts and implementing some elliptical training, you’ll emerge from your injury with minimal fitness loss and challenge your aerobic system without the pounding.

Thanks to Jeff Gaudette for sharing this with Level Renner. You can see the original blog post here. Find this and so much more in the RunnersConnect blog.

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