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11/13/12 2:01 A

I just wanted to say many thanks for all these fantastic answers! l learned so much, and now have a better perspective on what I am doing and what I need to do.

Deena from Jerusalem

MOTIVATED@LAST Posts: 15,443
11/12/12 5:36 P

Work on speed, or work on distance. But not both during the same run. Most regular runners extend their distance through a Long Slow Run.

The elliptical is excellent for working on your cardio fitness without impact. But walking is probably going to maintain the adaptation of your legs to impact better. A better training program while you recover would probably include BOTH on different days.


11/12/12 1:35 P

This is a GREAT question, and I need to add on...I have been running about 5K in about 40 mintues (slow, I know, but that's the best I can do at 31 BMI). Last week, I did really well and pushed mself to "run" farther and faster, but I started feeling some pain in my hips. This week I cannot run AT ALL. My hips hurt SO bad that sometimes I feel it just from walking.

I had thought about working on the elliptical to recover, until the hip pain subsides. I was also going to do some pilates and strength training for my abductors so when I start running again, I'll be stronger. But from what some of you said, I'm wonding if the elliptical might not be a great idea. Do you think I should walk instead of using the elliptical?


MOTIVATED@LAST Posts: 15,443
11/12/12 7:56 A

The main difference is the impact.

While your cardio-vascular fitness increases quite quickly, it takes a long time for your leg muscles and tendons to adapt to the stresses and impact of running.

The elliptical is great for cardio fitness, but being low-impact, doesn't develop your leg muscles and tendons for running.

The best way to train for running is ... running. But in terms of tranisitioning to running, I would strongly recommend a Couch to 5K program


MPLANE37 SparkPoints: (78,802)
Fitness Minutes: (77,357)
Posts: 2,170
11/12/12 6:42 A

In elliptical trainers, the resistance determines the calories burned. I set the resistance at max and put a saw teeth type program on and work out. The calories predicted by the machine is pretty close to that of HRM. Some machines overestimate the calories burned, but this is not peculiar to elliptical machines.

Elliptical machines are similar to stationary bikes, only the user is standing, and often the user can use his/her arms during the exercise too. So they are low impact exercises. They build the same cardiovascular fitness as treadmills, and because the joints are not stressed, it is more likely to work out longer on an elliptical and burn more calories. Burning more calories is not always desirable though.

When switching from elliptical to running, the biggest issue is the joint/tendon/ligament strength. Due to low impact, it does not improve, yet while running, you need to support several times your body weight at your joints/tendons/ligaments. That takes quite some time, in my case it took abut 6 weeks.

Is cycling 10K the same as even walking 10K, let alone running 10K? Elliptical is very similar to cycling. Cycling is much easier than both walking and running, if the speed and the resistance are not high. It is only natural that you can easily do 10K on the elliptical but can't run a 10K.

If you want to train for 10K, you should run either outside or on a treadmill. Even on a treadmill, it will be a tad easier to run 10K than outside.

Edited by: MPLANE37 at: 11/12/2012 (06:47)
11/11/12 2:47 P

The first thing to note is the elliptical mimics no series of movements you do in real life therefore it has no muscle memory carryover to running or anything else. An elliptical cheats you since once you get it moving the laws of physics take over, a body in motion tends to remain in motion unless acted upon by another force. If you want to run better run more, as Zorbs said it is the rule of specificity. The principle is SAID in exercise shorthand, specific adaptation to imposed demand. To get good at an activity, do that activity, each form of exercise has benefits to that exercise but limited carryover to another form of exercise.

JESSSMO Posts: 61
11/11/12 1:07 P

Great question....I also wonder, is the elliptical as good of a workout as running? And is it a good enough cardio workout in general? I, myself, use the elliptical from time to time, but I don't always burn as many calories as I feel like I should be!

MEG-NATALIA07 Posts: 679
11/11/12 12:32 P

Taking numbers out of the equation, elliptical is much gentler on your knees and joints. It jars your body much less than cement and even trail running.

BOB240 SparkPoints: (6,131)
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Posts: 359
11/11/12 12:05 P

The numbers on ellipticals - particularly the calorie counter. tend to be over optimistic. Elliptical manufacturers have built a reputation around the machines that they are a low pain/effort way of losing weight. That combined wit the low impact angle makes them an easy sell to gyms.

Interestingly you might try rowing - these machines are pretty serious instruments as they support substantial athletes in the gym. Try burning 200 calories on an elliptical then do the same on a rowing machine in the same time. You will notice the difference..

You'll find that even treadmills are quite positive about the distance a calories they burn.

SCTK519 Posts: 2,086
11/11/12 10:53 A

Elliptical is low impact while running is high impact. There's no impact on your body while you're on the elliptical whereas running your body is literally pounding the pavement or treadmill. On an elliptical you're simply imitating the body mechanics of running. Treadmill=running. The elliptical does not.

KELLIEBEAN Posts: 6,542
11/11/12 8:30 A

We'll see what other experts add to this but I wonder the same thing. I'm still working on improving a 5K but I have a way harder time running than spending 40 minutes on the elliptical.

I'm thinking, on the elliptical, it's a smooth even move, no wind coming at me and I'm not leaving the ground.

When I run, the ground is uneven, the wind is blowing and I'm leaving the ground which takes more energy.

Congrats on your fitness level to run a 10K!!!!

ZORBS13 SparkPoints: (194,154)
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Posts: 15,816
11/11/12 8:28 A

elliptical is spinning your legs around in circles with zero impact. Running requires you to pull your body weight along, although if you run on a treadmill, the belt helps to pull you along somewhat. To get better at running, you have to run more. You cannot expect to be "good" at the elliptical and have that carry over to running. This is called the principle of specificity

11/11/12 8:19 A

Hi. I can't understand why I can do 10K on the elliptical with no problem (50 min.), and yet when I run a 10K (71 min.) I'm completely wiped out and working very, very hard. Even running 9K or 7K is hard. Can someone please tell me a bit about the differences in fitness and ability when using the elliptical vs. running?

Thanks so much.

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