Elliptical Workouts For Injured Runners

Sample Elliptical Eorkouts

“Easy” Workouts (And the importance of RPMs)

Easy elliptical workouts should be performed between 65-75% 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.

RELATED: How should I train through an injury?

The types of 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 an equal amount of time on the elliptical. So, if your normal easy run is 45-50 minutes, than you would elliptical for 45-50 minutes. I prefer a lower incline since it more closely mimics the running motion.

“Medium” Workouts

Medium-effort elliptical workouts should be between 87-92% of maximum heart rate. This is what you would consider a comfortably hard tempo run effort. Aim for 90 RPM, but increase the resistance or the incline to elevate your heart rate (and effort) to appropriate levels.

The types of 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 mix without getting injured. They are also good “maintenance” days for injured runners. These workouts will help keep your heart rate up, but aren’t so tough that you can’t perform them daily. To make the workouts longer or shorter, simply adjust the number of repetitions.

1. 10:00 warmup, 6 x 5:00hard/3:00 easy, 5:00 cooldown

2. 10:00 warmup, 1,2,3,4,5,6,5,4,3,2,1 minutes hard w/2:00 recovery between all, 5:00 cooldown

3. 10:00 warmup, 6 sets of 1:00 medium, 1:00 hard, 1:00 medium, 1:00 hard, 1:00 easy, 5:00 cooldown

4. 10:00 warmup, 1:00 hard, 30 seconds easy, 30 seconds hard:, 30 seconds easy, 2:00 hard, 30 seconds easy (continue building up until 5:00, and then come back down by :30 second intervals) 10:00 cooldown

“Hard” Workouts

Hard-effort elliptical workouts should be performed between 95-100% of maximum heart rate. This is considered a VO2max or speed workout type of effort. Again, aim for maintaining 90 RPM and increase the resistance to achieve the desired effort level.

Hard efforts are great for injured runners who need to maintain fitness and train hard to get back in shape fast. Much like hard running workouts, 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. 10:00 warmup, 20:00 medium pace, 3 x 3:00 hard w/90-seconds recovery between reps, 5:00 cooldown

2. 10:00 warmup, start at level 1 and increase resistance every 4 minutes for 35-40 minutes, 5:00 cooldown (Note: This is a simulated hill workout.)

3. 10:00 warmup, 3 sets of 5:00 medium effort, 2:00 hard, 5:00 medium, 2:00 hard, 2:00 easy, 5:00 cooldown

Cross-training can be tough, especially when you’re injured or want to be increasing your volume and upping the intensity. By implementing some elliptical training into your routine, you’ll emerge from your injury with minimal fitness loss and challenge your aerobic system without the pounding.

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