Ellipticals are a great way to cross train. You can purchase one at a sporting goods store such as Academy, but almost every gym has one, with most gyms having a row of them.
The fact that they are so prevalent in gyms makes them accessible to almost everyone. While there are a couple of different types, the end result is ultimately the same: two platforms that move along a track that mimics a running stride without the impact of a foot striking the pavement.
Ellipticals are great for runners who suffer from shin splints, stress fractures, or other impact related injuries. They are also good to use as cross training for runners who are bumping up their mileage.
Most running injuries occur when runners are increasing their mileage; too much, too fast, and too soon is usually how runners injure themselves, often having to take time off. Working in an elliptical session once or twice a week with, or instead of, running can help reduce some stress associated with running.
Even some elite athletes use ellipticals as part of their training. A few weeks before the Olympic marathon trials, flotrack.org posted a few workouts from one of the hopefuls (I don’t recall who). On the days where he pulled doubles (two workouts a day), his morning workout was a run and his evening workout was on the elliptical.
The best workouts to do on an elliptical are generally going to be your easier days and recovery runs. While you could do long days on the elliptical, it may be boring and monotonous to be on the machine for an hour (or more) at a time. Speed work is also something you may prefer to do on the road or the track; however, you could work in some tempos or do a workout like the 30-20-10.
With the summer heat finally upon us, doing an elliptical indoors in an air conditioned gym may just be more appealing (and safer) than braving the heat outside.
By Adam Rabo