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Old 19 September 2011, 03:20
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Elliptical vs. Running

I hope there is someone here who can answer this question:

I have been struggling with chronic lower leg injury and have not really been able to run more than a mile at a time without severe pain in my Achilies and calves. The Doctor said there is nothing I can do about it and I will likely have it for the rest of my life. For the last few weeks I have begun to use an elliptical (which I have always hated because I think the movement feels unnatural) to get my endurance back up. The pain is much less and feeling better.

My question is: How do the distances on the elliptical compare to actual running?

I used to put in a lot of miles a week and I am getting to the point where I can do that again on the elliptical, but I don' t know if 6 miles on the elliptical is equivalent to 6 miles on the trail.
If I ever get to the point where I can run again will I be able to put in the same milage on the trails as I do on the machine?
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Old 19 September 2011, 06:40
Chesie Chesie is offline
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Alex,
From a cardiovascular standpoint, any exercise that gets your heart revved, and sustains it, will be beneficial. The elliptical takes pressure off the lower extremity joints, and is used by a lot of distance runners to keep the heart in shape without banging the xrap out of the knees and feet.
I don't know of an equation that compares distance run on pavement to the equivalent stress on the body while using an elliptical. I try to think of things based on time at target heart rate and power output. For me, elliptical doesn't replace running, but only because the lower body muscle and ligament workout is less, but from a getting into shape perspective, it is just as good.
My body feels like 6 miles on the elliptical is equivalent to about 2 miles on the road, from a muscle strain point of view.
Good luck with your recovery,
Danny
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Old 19 September 2011, 07:34
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You should also get another opinion from a doc as well as check out docs who offer ART.

Best of luck.
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Old 19 September 2011, 09:04
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You should also get another opinion from a doc as well as check out docs who offer ART.

Best of luck.
I concur. I overtrained by running too much before and some good physical therapy and strengthening of the supportive muscles and ligaments combined with a good warm-up and stretching routine made a world of difference.

As for a comparison of running vs. elliptical, IMHO I'd say running is "harder" since you get more friction and move 100% under your own power.
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Old 19 September 2011, 13:26
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Running is definitely harder on me. I was running the following numbers on my elliptical: four times a week, seven miles a day for 45-49 minutes averaging 10-11.5 mph. Some days I would run outside for three miles between 21-28 minutes. The runs outside felt as though I had run 12 miles in the desert. Actual running is much harder on you -- at least it was on me. When running outside, I can feel the strain on my knees immediately and I found the breathing to be more difficult at an earlier stage. However, with that said, the elliptical serves me well as far as cardio purposes and eliminated my knee pains totally.
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Old 19 September 2011, 14:12
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Bump the resistance up on the eliptical.

I've been working on getting back in shape (~285lbs in January, ~230lbs now @ 6'-2"). Being close to 40 and as overweight as I was concerned with damaging joints by running with the extra weight. So 14 weeks ago I joined a local gym and started using the eliptical.

Now, I've never been big on running; my best PFT 2-Mile time while I was in the Army was 14:00. I typically use the eliptical to get my heart rate up into that "fat burn" heart rate area and do that for 1/2 hour combined with 1/2 hour of varied rates to improve cardio (e.g. Sprint Intensity; "Hill" mode, etc...)

When I first started I could barely manage 2 miles in 20 minutes @ a resistance setting of 8. Two weeks ago (Monday is the day I push the pace) I was able to do 2 miles in just over 13:30 @ a resistance setting of 12; then dropped the resistance down to 10 and did another 2 miles finishing in a little under 32 minutes (for all 4 miles). A week ago I upped the resistance to 15 and did a mile in about 6:15, then lowered the resistance to 12 and did the 2nd mile in 7:45. At 12, 2 weeks ago my legs felt fine and I was maintaining a heart rate in the 80% to 90% range. At 15, my legs were burning after a mile and I was in the 90-100% range.

Speaking of heart-rate range, I've often wondered just how accurate this supposed "maximum" heart rate is. I'll be 40 in just a few months, so according to what I've read online my "maximum heart rate" is supposed to be 180. For the last 1/4 mile or so of that mile @ 15 resistance I was right at 180 (and at times up to 182~183); which is the primary reason I dropped the resistance back to 12 for the 2nd mile. I remember times in my past (at about 1/2 the age I am now) when I'd be running hard and it felt like my heart was going to jump out of my chest and run down the road by itself (didn't have a heart rate monitor back then). But even at ~183 it didn't feel like that; it was beating hard, no doubt, but it didn't feel like "maximum" to me. BTW, my "resting" heart rate has dropped from ~62 when I first started to ~50 now. To keep track of my heart rate when I exercise now I use a chest belt that sends a signal to a "wrist-watch."
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Old 19 September 2011, 16:48
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One thing I've always done when using the elliptical machine as a substitute for cardio is keep my hands free (not using the handles).

For me, this keeps the motion more consistent with that of running, by further isolating the use of your lower extremities (core included to maintain your balance) which again is more consistent with running.

As for the benefit comparison between running, I believe with the proper resistance, you can benefit just as equally, if not more (considering diminished wear and tear). Technically however, I would not measure your workouts mile for mile in comparison, rather, I'd try and use the following:

Elliptical - Time & Resistance = ???

Running - Time & Distance = ???

Terrain issues excluded of course...

Hope this all makes sense.


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Old 19 September 2011, 17:16
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An often-overlooked substitute for running while injured is deep water running. It is exactly the same motion as regular running with zero impact. A very well-known professional runner (Name escapes me at the moment) once trained for and won a 1/2 Marathon doing almost all of his training in a pool. I have used this with great success several times over the years.
You simply get into the deep end of a pool and "run". Depending on your form, fitness level and how well you float, you may or may not need a float belt to keep your head above water. I needed one for sure. It gets a bit boring because you move forward very slowly but I compensated for that by placing a small stereo on the pool deck.
http://weloverunning.blogspot.com/20...eep-water.html
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Old 19 September 2011, 21:18
Chesie Chesie is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MChat View Post
Speaking of heart-rate range, I've often wondered just how accurate this supposed "maximum" heart rate is. I'll be 40 in just a few months, so according to what I've read online my "maximum heart rate" is supposed to be 180. For the last 1/4 mile or so of that mile @ 15 resistance I was right at 180 (and at times up to 182~183); which is the primary reason I dropped the resistance back to 12 for the 2nd mile. I remember times in my past (at about 1/2 the age I am now) when I'd be running hard and it felt like my heart was going to jump out of my chest and run down the road by itself (didn't have a heart rate monitor back then). But even at ~183 it didn't feel like that; it was beating hard, no doubt, but it didn't feel like "maximum" to me. BTW, my "resting" heart rate has dropped from ~62 when I first started to ~50 now. To keep track of my heart rate when I exercise now I use a chest belt that sends a signal to a "wrist-watch."
I'm 40 as well, and the fastest I can get my heart rate on a machine, without external persuasion, is 181. That HR was this Spring, doing V02 Max testing on a respirator/spin bike. (V02 max=52, for reference). In V02 testing, the ramp up from lactate threshold to max anaerobic is slower, and therefore more grueling (about 2 minutes). In a bike race this Summer, however, I hit 189 during the finishing sprint, from a quick ramp-up of 15 seconds from the 170's. Adrenaline will give you a few extra beats, I guess, but I usually end up vomiting.

Regards,
Danny
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Old 19 September 2011, 21:20
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Edit to add: my resting HR is 48-52.
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Old 19 September 2011, 22:40
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Ronin,

Have you considered or tried changing your stride/gait when you run? If you haven't...might be worth trying to slow down the speed your running at and focus more on your form. Perhaps shorten your stride and try to atleast minimize or eliminate striking your heel?

I have found when I really begin to tire I slowly begin to strike my heel harder and harder...I never have pain in my knees while running until I start to really wear down and lose form to the point where I strike my heel hard...

Thoughts anyone?
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Old 19 September 2011, 22:45
Gryfen-FL Gryfen-FL is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slinger
Thoughts anyone?
Definitely worth the effort in my experience. I was turning into a profile ranger on 'n off with knee pain. When I worked on my stride, it went away almost instantly. My knees haven't hurt since some time in '07.

***but if you switch to mid-foot, you better not skimp on your stretching ****
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Old 20 September 2011, 00:07
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Ronin,

Perhaps shorten your stride and try to at least minimize or eliminate striking your heel?

Thoughts anyone?
This is key. I had to change my gait, and shorten my stride for this specific reason. In my case, it somewhat reduces the impact into the knees and the spine.

How this may or may not help in Ronin's case though, I'm not sure...if I remember right, it was actually a leg injury...


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Old 27 November 2011, 20:59
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I am a firm believer in my eliptical. Another alternative is walking uphill on the treadmill. That really kicks my ass, much more so than the eliptical.
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Old 27 November 2011, 23:23
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***but if you switch to mid-foot, you better not skimp on your stretching ****
Second this...I learned it the hard way.
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Old 28 November 2011, 00:32
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What does that mean?
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Old 28 November 2011, 02:03
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Ronin, another thing you should consider is that once you get back to running for real, your strides will seem choppy and shortened up a bit and will take some adjusting to. Other than that, I would stay with the THR/time as a guideline.
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Old 28 November 2011, 03:17
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I have yet to succeed in reaching the "high" that i get from running from any other sport.

Some tips off the top of my head, and i'm NOT a sports or any other doctor:
1) Stretch well before and after your run. Don't rely on stretched you think are ok, research it, get professional stretching advice
2) Go tyo a professional running shoe store and have them check, using a treadmill and camera (or other equipment), what type of step you have and what shoe would suit you best.

To me it shounds like a shoe suitability issue.

H
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Old 28 November 2011, 06:02
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Originally Posted by The Fat Guy View Post
Another alternative is walking uphill on the treadmill. That really kicks my ass, much more so than the eliptical.
I agree. Jack that treadmill up to max elevation, and start humping at a good pace. That will give you a whole lot better work out then just running on the dam thing. Once that gets easier add a light pack. Since it is elevated you won't have much impact on your knees. Even when I run on treadmills I put it at a slight incline to reduce impact.

I have always hated normal elipticals, and don't use them because I think they twist your lower body in an abnormal way.

Until your knee improves, I would just find an activity that works your legs (Without much impact), and keeps your heart rate elevated. Standing one leg lunges are also suppose to strengthen your knees. Give the Versa Climber, or a real bike a try...anything but running.
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Old 28 November 2011, 09:38
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I am a firm believer in my eliptical. Another alternative is walking uphill on the treadmill. That really kicks my ass, much more so than the eliptical.

Thanks, I was thinking about switching from the eliptical to an elevated treadmill or just adding it into my routine....Now I have my answer.
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