Turning in my gym membership to purchase a home machine last spring was a wise decision. Due to the weather and my need to squeeze in workouts at odd hours, most of my workouts for the past week and a half have been on the elliptical machine. I still think it’s a great machine and have logged many hours on it. Eventually I’d like to get a home treadmill too (how convenient would that be!), so I could get more miles in per week. However, I believe in the merits to cross training, and think the variety makes me a stronger runner.
Even though the M.O. is the same, it’s never same workout twice. I go for a total of 70 minutes, playing with the incline and resistance buttons throughout to keep myself occupied. I’ll throw in sprints to coincide with the music I’m listening to, and reverse the direction intermittently to work different muscle groups. Occasionally to practice balance, I’ll let go of the moving hand rails and pump my arms like I’m running.
Some runners argue that using the elliptical machine isn’t a “real workout”. Yes and no. To be good runner, you still need to run, but the elliptical can be a decent substitute if do it right. I wear my Polar F6 heart rate monitor to ensure I’m staying over 155 bpm (I ideally like to keep it around 160-165, my average heart rate for a steady-state run). During the sprint portions I’ll push to get it up to 170. I aim to workout for at least 60 minutes in my target heart rate zone, and takes me about 10 minutes of warming up to get there, hence 70 minutes total time on the machine.
To keep my heart rate up that high, I have to stay pretty focused. It’s easy to slack off on the elliptical if you don’t maintain your cadence and use enough resistance. I feel it in my quads and bum afterwards, and it makes me stronger running hills. My total burn usually comes out to ~600 calories. I try to get in a good protein/carb snack shortly afterwards to rebuild muscle. Yogurt (especially greek-style, although it’s a bit more spendy) mixed with granola or trail mix is my favorite.
So until the longer days and warmer temperatures allow me to bring the jogging stroller back, I’m all about the elliptical.
I'm a just another Jersey girl adjusting to life in the south. In addition to being a mother-runner, I work full time outside the home, and enjoy the perks (and challenges) of being married to a commercial airline pilot.
I try my best to live a balanced and healthy lifestyle, and to set a good example for my 3 children. You can usually find me training, and even racing, around Atlanta while pushing them in a jogging stroller.