ElliptiGO: Taking running to a new level

When you first stand beside an ElliptiGO it is really quite intimidating: it's surprisingly large and leads you to wonder how on earth you're meant to get up on it. Never fear, there is a way and it is remarkably simple. All it requires is for you to muster a small amount of courage before you place one foot on the pedal and push off with the other. That's it - you're off.

The ElliptiGO originated in America. At the age of 32, Bryan Pate, a former cyclist and triathlete lost the ability to participate in the sports he loved through hip and knee problems - we're sure there are many who can sympathise with this. He called upon Brent, who was a mechanical engineer, former Ironman triathlete and competitive ultra-marathoner, to help him create a low-impact running device, and thus the ElliptiGO came into existence. It's designed to mimic the running motion, though as you 'run' along it initially feels far from natural. But if you concentrate on the movement you will see that it does indeed come very close. The lack of impact makes the movement feel much freer.

Keeping your body in an upright and relaxed position, the movement soon comes to feel very easy and natural. Working in a similar manner to a bike you can flick through a range of gears to make your workout as hard or as easy as you like. The gears mean that tackling hills is not an issue either, which was something that we had been rather worried about. However, there was no need to worry as when in a low gear it flew up and was great fun riding down, too. Being somebody who struggles with impact in my knees when running I was in my element.

We got chatting to Squash Falconer, who has won the ElliptiGO EU championships for 3 years in a row. In 2013, she also undertook a 3000 mile record breaking challenge on her ElliptiGO. Starting in Liverpool she crossed into Holland, Germany, France and could be seen on it up in the Alps! She finished her journey in Paris, having met some incredible people, improved her fitness and learnt great skills along the way.

She confirms that it takes about 10 seconds to get on and start to ride and only a further 5 minutes to become an accomplished rider. Having been nervous about running beforehand due to the many injuries that often come hand in hand with running, she feels there simply aren't any downsides to using it. Feeling that it has complimented every other sport she has undertaken, improving fitness, body tone and strength, she wholeheartedly recommends it to anybody who is interested. The only downsides that she can think of are the initial costs involved and storage.

We have to agree - it's a really great workout and without the normal pressure on your body that running causes you can really push yourself whether your aim is recovery, training or weight-loss.

Idai Makaya, ElliptiGO UK advises on training:

'There are as many ways to train on the ElliptiGO for running races as there are running, so the 'training plan' outlined here is pretty generic. As a rule of thumb the ElliptiGO should be used according to duration and effort levels when training for running events - rather than the traditional mileages and paces used in running. The most scientific way to do this is to use a heart rate monitor, so that your riding efforts can be matched to your running efforts. Perceived effort is also an option - albeit less accurate.

To match a running session to an ElliptiGO session, the athlete should focus on using the same heart rate (or perceived effort level) and match that to the amount of time they would run for, with one particular difference. Because the ElliptiGO workout is impact-free, if the runner wants to match a running workout the ElliptiGO session should be slightly longer. One hour on the ElliptiGO, at a specific effort level, would approximately equate to the conditioning from 45 minutes of running (at that same measured intensity).

Once this 'algorithm' is understood, it is worth being aware that because the ElliptiGO is an impact free effort - using the same muscles used for running - it makes some sense to increase training volume rather than just match what you'd do if you were running. This ideally means using a ratio of 1:1.5 when substituting running sessions with ElliptiGO sessions.

Runners have different training needs. Injury-prone runners need to substitute runs with ElliptiGO rides, to keep running mileages lower and reduce injury risk. 30-50% of a runner's total training hours can be substituted in this way with the expectation of improving performance (compared to running only). More resilient runners can use the ElliptiGO simply to add quality but impact-free miles to their total running training (either as a second workout for the day, or to substitute complete rest days with easy rides).

ElliptiGO workouts can be added to a running programme as a warm up ride (before running) and also as a long warm down or second full duration session (immediately after running). They can also be used on alternate days, aiming for 50-100% longer duration (compared to runs). And they can be incorporated as a second workout of the day (with a run in the morning and a ride in the evening). Many runners ride the ElliptiGO to work, run at lunch and then ride home again. The mix is almost infinite.'

Have any more questions? Drop us an email at tr@bauermedia.co.uk