Way back in August, I was contacted by Outside PR about getting a chance to run on a really cool treadmill called an Anti-Gravity Treadmill. These cool machines are made by a company called Alter-G. The offer couldn’t have come at a better time because at that time I was trying to run through some serious foot pain—PF in my right foot and extensor toe tendonitis in my left.
To make a long story short, we never actually found a treadmill in my area that wasn’t booked up. Then the holidays came and we pushed it back even a bit further. But it finally happened. On Thursday, I hiked up to Optimal Results Physical Therapy in Portland for my chance to run on the moon.
What a run it was!
What is a “G-trainer”?
The G-trainer looks like a treadmill with a tent sitting on top of it. The top of the “tent” has a hole in it with a zipper that matches the zipper that is found on the really cool pair of shorts that you get to wear while running on the trainer. When you step inside the hole and zip into the tent, you are able to pressurize the tent, which slightly lifts your body off the treadmill and allows you to run as if you were lighter than you are. It’s a pretty cool concept with lots of applications.
Why run on a “G-trainer”?
The two main reasons to run on a G-trainer are sports rehabilitation and sports training. By lowering their body weight, injured athletes are able to resume their training sooner because of the decreased impact to the injured area.
The G-trainer can also be used to make you a better athlete. On a G-trainer at a decreased weight, you are able to train longer, run faster, gain strength, and enhance your cardiovascular system.
My Run on the MoonRunning on the G-trainer was truly an experience! After I got strapped in I was shown how to use the really intuitive touch screen controls and then was left alone to play for 30 minutes.
All totalled, I ran only about 3 miles during my session. The treadmill itself was amazing—the smoothest ride I’ve ever run on. But by far the most amazing thing about the G-trainer was the ability to control my body weight. Most athletes who are recovering from injury or trying to increase their fitness levels run at about 80-85% of their body weight, but since my feet have more or less healed up, I was there to play. I quickly reduced my body weight to 20% just to see what it felt like. As the tent pressurized, I could actually feel myself being lifted up off the deck. In fact, it was too easy to run at 20% and the wedgie that the shorts gave me was unbearable.So I bumped it up to 50% and ran there for a while. Man could I fly! 6:00 miles were nothing! I was hardly sweating and I could easily carry on a conversation with the PT, Keith. Usually, I have a hard time chatting when I’m running 8:00/mile pace. It’s truly amazing how much the difference a change in weight makes.
While on the G-trainer, I also experimented with the other variables that the machine can manipulate. First off, I had the treadmill run backwards for a few minutes. It has the capability of going 10 MPH backwards—smoking fast for backwards—I kept my speed at around 5 MPH and even this was difficult. Running backwards is supposed to be a great way to develop your posterior chain (calves, hamstrings, and glutes) which helps you build speed. I quickly found myself up on my toes and within a few minutes, my calves were definitely doing the majority of the work. I’m not sure if I’ll be incorporating backwards running into my routine, but it was definitely interesting
The final thing that I tried while running on the moon was hill running. I bumped that baby up to 15% and ran at 7:30/mile pace and 50% of my weight for about 5 minutes. It was totally easy and actually made running hills enjoyable.
The biggest take home lesson
Even though I’m feeling great these days in terms of injury and wasn’t able to get any therapeutic value out of the G-trainer I learned one very important lesson on the day.
In terms of running faster, how much you weigh really makes a difference. If you want to get faster, losing some weight is one way to accomplish that goal.
There was an amazing difference in required running effort with body weight changes as small as 1% on the G-trainer. In the book, Racing Weight, by Matt Fitzgerald suggests that every pound you lose makes you about 2 seconds per mile faster. Do the math: If you lose 10 pounds for your next marathon, you’ll be able to run it about 8:45 faster than if you didn’t. And that’s a hefty chunk of time for all marathoners. Something to consider.
I really enjoyed my time spent on the G-trainer. I learned a lot in a very short period of time and definitely see how running in a low weight environment could be beneficial both in terms of rehabilitation and general fitness. Thanks a lot to Scott and Keith for setting this up and giving me a chance to run on this truly incredible machine. If you think you could benefit from running on an AlterG G-trainer, and you live in the Portland area, I highly recommend giving Keith from Optimal Results PT a call to schedule a consultation.