Tag Archives: elliptical

Checking In 8/9/2021

Operation Shutdown has gone 7 days, and though my leg is doing a bit better I think I will extend it another couple days as there’s still residual soreness and stiffness. Granted, some of that may have to do with yesterday, I’m sure.

Over the weekend I obviously did not run, but I went hard both days: I went hard on resting Saturday, and I went hard on cross training on Sunday.

Saturday I had my first total rest day in quite some time, since (according to my logs) June 5. No training, no walking any extended distances, nothing. I didn’t even go to the store. I did take my car in for service that morning, but I sat waiting for an hour or two, had some coffee afterward, and then laid out at home the rest of the day afterward.

Sunday I went to the gym and, while I obviously could not run let alone run long, I got on the elliptical and went 2 hours 20 minutes. I now know that the back-row machines at my gym will let you go 98 minutes before the timer resets to zero (though I don’t believe that’s a cooldown phase), though my watch could count it as one full workout.

Though I tired a bit over time, I never felt aerobically distressed, and obviously there was no real pounding on my body through the elliptical’s fluid motion. I can now get my body comfortable into heart rate zone 1, and on this long workout I even got about 15-16 minutes in zone 2.

I periodically did release the moving handles and hold the static ones to give parts of my body a break, and did have to hop off at 40 minutes to verify I hadn’t left something in my car (I had not) before hopping right back on. But otherwise the 2:20 was a continious workout and I felt no pain. I certainly felt better after that 2:20 session than I would after a 2:20 long run. As manosphere Twitter accounts would say, there’s probably a lesson in there.

After that, I actually got on the treadmill and walked a steady 3mph for an hour. This was for a Garmin badge, honestly, but the extra time on my feet wasn’t much trouble, and probably a beneficial session for those same legs. It was a lightweight therapeutic session of rehabilitative movement, and I comfortably held the treadmill handles any time my hamstring felt even the hint of discomfort.

And finally, I did a brief swolework session, just some rapid fire seated-row sets, some facepulls and even some light seated hamstring curls to finish. The surprising thing is how relatively fresh I felt for the strength training despite 3.5 hours of extended light aerobic work. I was certainly stiff throughout my lower body after the elliptical, though the walking helped loosen that back up. But I didn’t feel so tapped out the way I often am after long runs.

After lunch, and after getting groceries, I headed home and relaxed the rest of the day. And I slept considerably well last night, as I did Saturday night.


Tempting as it is to test drive a short run this morning, I’ll probably just walk out the next two days’ work breaks to see how everything feels, and continue stretching the anterior hip and working on opening up that space more. I’ll certainly barring any setbacks train tonight, and every night through Thursday.

If everything continues to progress, I jog out at least one work break Wednesday, and gradually re-introduce regular running through the next week while continuing to hammer hour+ workouts on the elliptical, as those are working really well overall.

I think at this point my body’s message is clear: Other than a couple of key workouts a week and maybe your work breaks, take it easy on the running overall and go to the elliptical for the rest of your aerobic volume. The hamstring issue is probably a product of the volume, and while maybe someday it can gradually handle more, it was beginning to buckle under the volume I was giving it this past couple months. As for the groin (which in fact is feeling somewhat better itself), I’m thinking it strained from overcompensating for the declining hamstring, so I’m not so worried about that.

So, even though the wake-up aches and pains are annoying, as are the continued adjustments and struggles with things like putting on pants… I do see progress, and will continue with aggressive recovery and rehab.

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Checking In 8/4/2021

I found my compression shorts stashed with all my winter gear (obviously unused since Chicago). I’m wearing the shorts today and it has certainly helped moving around feel better, as two of the muscles they support (hamstring and groin) need their support today and beyond. I feel a bit of residual pain/soreness when I move but moving around is nowhere near as difficult as it was before.

Waking up markedly sore, my leg felt somewhat better after moving around for a bit this morning, and now feels even better in the shorts.

I slept another 8 hours last night after spending an hour on the elliptical at the gym following work. Yesterday originally was a scheduled rest day, but obviously with the hamstring and groin issues most of the last week has been full of de facto rest days.

I split the difference and kept the elliptical set at the minimum level 1, an easy effort to sustain. I had no trouble sustaining it pain-free and comfortably for a full hour. I’m starting to get real comfortable with the elliptical, though perhaps that’s just the rest of my body being fresh from a lack of running.

I also managed on the elliptical session to get my heart rate into training range, around 70-75% of max. I actually couldn’t do this with the machine set at higher levels, as the extra strength needed prevented me from going fast enough. So by accident I’ve found the key to successful elliptical training: Keep the level at 1 or similarly low. I had ironically done it as a rest-day measure but instead it allowed one of my better aerobic sessions on the elliptical.

While tempted to take a complete rest day and see how that affects the leg… I’ve had bad experience trying to sleep after those days (probably unused energy and blood sugar), found I sleep better after training, and don’t want to screw up my current run of good sleep. The plan tonight is to strength train, then go again on the elliptical and see if I can handle another hour.

I’ve seen and heard of people training themselves into shape or maintaining shape through elliptical cross training, and if I can make that work long-term I may be okay for Indy even if these issues take weeks to heal up. Meanwhile, we’ll stick with the elliptical for Operation Shutdown as long as it doesn’t cause any pain.

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How runners can effectively track cross training

person on elliptical trainer

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

One thing clear to me this summer is that getting in a lot of miles is probably not going to happen. It’s one reason I went ahead and joined the gym near my home: I need to do more to fill in the blanks with cross training. I’ll hit my key workouts whether outdoors or indoors, and then have a variety of indoor options with which to fill in the blanks.

Filling in the blanks however requires some analysis. People cross train, but people don’t have a firm basis from which to equate their cross training to the needed aerobic development.

How much work on the bike or elliptical equals one mile of easy running? Most do an indeterminate amount of cross training, but beyond knowing that it helps some with training, they have no idea how many miles or how much progress it has helped make them.

(I will also note that, while some writers and coaches think it so, I don’t consider treadmill running cross training. I realize at a zero incline, with a consistent surface, and with no wind resistance… running on a treadmill could be easier than regular running. However, there are enough equalizing factors I’ll discuss another time that can and usually do make it as difficult, sometimes more difficult, than regular running. Plus, you still are bearing all of your weight at a higher speed and intensity, as you do with running. So, I consider miles run on the treadmill equal to regular running miles.)

What’s the best way to figure out how much value, how much volume, a cross training workout provided to your training? It’s a question I’ve dabbled with over time, and wrestled with more in recent memory, especially now that I’m cross training more frequently at the gym.

I think the best way to figure this out is:

Continue reading

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The Quadathlon Long Distance Gym Workout

Are you a member of a gym? Does that gym have treadmills and at least three other different kinds of readily available cardio machines, like ellipticals, spin bikes, rowing machines, ARC Trainers, stair climbers… maybe even a pool (assuming of course that you can swim, and own a waterproof watch)?

Are you training for a long distance event like a marathon, an ultra, a bike race, a triathlon, or jury duty?

Then boy do I have a long distance workout for you!

Creative minds can look at all the information I’ve provided and immediately see where I’m going with this (and by the way ignoring a jury duty notice may technically be a crime), but I’m going to spell it out either way.

The Quadathlon is a 2-4 hour workout where you spend 30-60 minutes working at a sustainable pace on each of four different cardio exercises.

This of course requires that each machine or avenue of cross training is readily available: You don’t want to go do the stair climber section and find out they’re all taken or broken. So, of course, make sure the machines you want to use are available.

Also, how long you spend on each machine may be a function of a gym’s policies. Many gyms set a 30 minute limit for using a single machine. So then at a gym like that you do this as a 2 hour workout, period.

This also is a purely cardio/aerobic exercise, because the continuous aerobic activity is integral to the workout. A circuit of weight machines doesn’t work because, along with the stops and starts, trying to speed through these without stopping can be dangerous. It’s also very hard to find 30-60 minutes of continuous weight exercises (and the needed open machines!) that won’t leave you injured. Plus you have to adjust the weight of every machine. It’s a pain; don’t do it.

I recommend starting if possible with the most difficult apparatus first, and then finishing with the easiest, for obvious reasons: Your body will be freshest for the toughest exercise, and will reach the 4th and final one when you’re most tired. If this were intended to be a contest, I’d say do the exercises in reverse. But your goal is not to beat anybody: It’s to get a good workout that won’t injure you.

For example, because cross training is generally done as a soft-impact substitute for running, it makes the most sense to make running on the treadmill the 1st exercise. Running is fundamentally tougher to do than most other cardio exercises because you are bearing your entire weight throughout the exercise.

However, if one particular set of machines tends to fill up often while the others are empty, I would then start with the busiest machines first. Usually in gyms this is the treadmill, and that’s typically a logical starting point anyway. But gyms with rowing machines tend not to stock a lot of those despite being popular. So maybe if you want to row and that’s open you should start with that.

One exception: Some people consider swimming nice and relaxing, and may want to do that last. But if you struggle to stay afloat when tired, maybe don’t do that one last. I don’t want you to drown at the end of a 4 hour workout! Maybe do that one 2nd.

If you use the pool as one exercise, get your triathlete on afterward by quickly changing into gym-appropriate gear for your next exercise (probably the most difficult one). And vice versa: If switching to the pool, change quickly into your pool gear. Of course, don’t run or walk fast on wet terrain. Be brisk but be careful. Do all your rushing while sitting down.

A good exercise to do last, if available, is the exercise bike, especially if you opt for the easier recumbent (sitting) bike. It’s easier to maintain a basic aerobic effort when exhausted on the bike. Plus, more importantly, many tend to feel real stiff when they get off the bike after a long workout. You don’t want to get on another machine for 30-60 more minutes in that condition.

If your gym has it, you’ve used it before for more than a few minutes, and you’re up for it… another good final exercise is the hand crank, a sort of arm bike. The advantage to finishing with this is all the other exercises require your legs, and this one uses your arms instead, which should be somewhat fresher and won’t ask anything of your tired legs.

A good example of a common Quadathlon Workout would be this:

Event 1: Treadmill, at tempo, 30 minutes.
Event 2: Elliptical, easy/moderate effort, 30 minutes.
Event 3: ARC Trainer, first 3/4 easy, last 1/4 moderate, 30 minutes.
Event 4: Spin bike, whatever you can muster, 30 minutes.

Or, if your gym has a really popular rowing machine and it’s available:

Event 1: Rowing machine, moderate effort, 30 minutes.
Event 2: Treadmill, first 3/4 easy, last 1/4 at tempo, 30 minutes.
Event 3: Elliptical, easy/moderate effort, 30 minutes.
Event 4: Spin bike, whatever you can muster, 30 minutes.

Or maybe you cannot or don’t want to run at all this weekend.

Event 1: Swimming in gym pool, 30 minutes. Change into gym gear.
Event 2: ARC Trainer, easy/moderate effort, 30 minutes.
Event 3: Elliptical, easy/moderate effort, 30 minutes.
Event 4: Spin bike, whatever you can muster, 30 minutes.

Or:

Event 1: Jury duty, wait 4 hours, get sent home instead.
Event 2: Get to gym, get on treadmill…

… okay, maybe not.

For the most part, the Quadathlon is a challenging 2 hour aerobic workout, requiring differing ranges of motion throughout, and you usually only need to run 3-4 miles total.

This is an excellent idea for weekend “long run” workouts where you might not have it in you to knock out 10-20 miles that day but you do want to get in a long effort.

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