Does an elliptical help a future goal of learning to run?

Hi. This is a weird question I am sure but meh, oh well. I ask anyway.

In the Spring when there is no ice and snow I think I want to attempt to run a mile outside. I know it does not sound like a long distance but I have never been good at jogging more than a few minutes. I walk outside a lot but it just gets too icy out here for me to feel safe picking up the pace. (I have slipped in the past.)

I have a crappy knee (reconstructed ACL) and do just fine with most things at the gym. I go to bootcamp, body pump, yoga, and use the circuit equipment. Zumba (when lots of jumping), lunges and squats cause a bit of discomfort because I am too heavy. The treadmill (walking, not running) is ok sometimes but if I go too long it gets tender. The elliptical is much easier on the knee.

If I stick to the elliptical till my weight comes down will it help me running at all or will it be like starting from scratch in the Spring? I was thinking of trying the "couch to 5k" on the elliptical.

Is this approach ridiculous or wise? Thanks for your input.
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Replies

  • tbird0123
    tbird0123 Posts: 3 Member
    First.. go you. Second, I too walk and use elliptical and if I’m feeling physically strong that day, the elliptical does give me sense of running (and this body hasn’t run in years). I’ve downloaded the MapMyWalk ap and am going to use it to ‘train’ for a walking 5k. But using the couch to 5k ap on the elliptical sounds like an awesome idea.
  • swimmchick87
    swimmchick87 Posts: 458 Member
    I don't think the elliptical would help you with running. I can easily do the elliptical for 30 minutes or more, but I can't run for even one minute without feeling like I'm dying and getting horrible pain in my calves.
  • GOT_Obsessed
    GOT_Obsessed Posts: 817 Member
    Thanks for all the great info! Lots for me to work with.

    Today I got brave at the gym. After Zumba and went on the treadmill for a half hour. On 6 occasions I jogged for a minute. It was a pretty slow jog but I did it and I live to tell about it.

    I am starting to think I may just try the couch to 5k on a treadmill for the winter. See how it feels on the knee. Then by Spring I may be able to run 1 mile outside. I don't know. So many options.

    Another question: When I attempt this outside run there is a big school soccer field close by. Does the surface make a big difference to the joints? Would this be better for me than the sidewalk or back lane maybe?
  • Motorsheen
    Motorsheen Posts: 20,402 Member
    edited November 2017
    Thanks for all the great info! Lots for me to work with.

    Today I got brave at the gym. After Zumba and went on the treadmill for a half hour. On 6 occasions I jogged for a minute. It was a pretty slow jog but I did it and I live to tell about it.

    I am starting to think I may just try the couch to 5k on a treadmill for the winter. See how it feels on the knee. Then by Spring I may be able to run 1 mile outside. I don't know. So many options.

    Another question: When I attempt this outside run there is a big school soccer field close by. Does the surface make a big difference to the joints? Would this be better for me than the sidewalk or back lane maybe?

    the running surface will make a huge difference.

    I always looked for more of an even running surface (trail running isn't my thing; it's great for others, just not me.)

    A dedicated running trail is good, like along a canal. Treadmills are very forgiving.

    Asphalt can be rough on the knees but if you're training for a road race (1/2 marathon or longer) you will want to do much of your training on the harder surface.

    ... just my 2 cents

    edit:

    also..... what kind of shoes are you wearing for your runs? Are they old or broken down?
    Have you been fitted by someone who knows running?

    The proper shoes (and socks) are critical to your success.
  • GOT_Obsessed
    GOT_Obsessed Posts: 817 Member
    My shoes are brand new runners that I have used for 8 weeks in the gym. Not from a custom fit running place though. ASICS something or other.
  • spiriteagle99
    spiriteagle99 Posts: 3,454 Member
    Dirt is softer than asphalt, so easier on the knees, but uneven, so you need to make sure you pick up your feet and watch where you set them down so you don't trip. A good even lawn/soccer field is good to run on. Dirt or sand trails are good to run on if you have joint issues.

  • GemstoneofHeart
    GemstoneofHeart Posts: 864 Member
    It might help you train but it’s not really like running at all. The stride is completely different. I still think it’s worth doing because any exercise is good, but if you really want to run, you should try a beginners running plan. That’s what I did and I can run 5Ks straight through no problem
  • rheddmobile
    rheddmobile Posts: 6,841 Member
    I've got no ACL in my right knee and run wearing a lightweight brace. I recently finished c25k haven't had many problems with running aggravating my knee, as long as I am very careful about foot placement. Most of the advice you are getting about surfaces doesn't apply to your situation - hard surfaces aren't going to hurt your acl, the main thing you don't want to do is catch your toe on a piece of pavement or a root and wrench your knee sideways. I've also learned not to push past my leg muscles getting tired, because my muscles don't respond as fast and I become more likely to injure myself.

    The elliptical will help with conditioning but really nothing is like running but running. My recommendation would be to try the c25k on the treadmill and repeat weeks if necessary. And get a brace to protect that tendon!
  • GOT_Obsessed
    GOT_Obsessed Posts: 817 Member
    Haha. Someone asked about the need to run and to be honest it's because of the Zombies, Run! app. When the weather becones nice out (months from now) it seems like it would be a nice thing to do to start the day. I used the app now walking but it's slippery out. At the chase parts I just keep walking.

    Also I was never great at running distances as a youth. I always did well in the short distances but was always winded early even skating. I played lots of softball and ringette but avoided anything with lots more running. I guess it's perhaps a deep rooted sore spot.

    I want to say I can run a mile! I think it's an achievable goal. I have given it a lot of thought and tomorrow I plan to start the couch to 5k. I just found out there is an indoor running track here. I am just looking into that. I was curious about the elliptical because during the holidays I will be out of town and they have an elliptical but not a treadmill. Plus it's very wintery out there.

    Thanks for all your help.
  • questionfear
    questionfear Posts: 527 Member
    I had ACL surgery 9 years ago. Since the surgery, I've run 4 half marathons, and more 5ks than I can count. Personally, I think the treadmill is the worst possible tool for someone with a bad knee-it forces you to go at a very steady and specific pace and cadence, and it isn't always comfortable. When you're running outside, you can unconsciously make adjustments that help your knee. At least that's my experience.
  • stingrayinfl
    stingrayinfl Posts: 284 Member
    Ellip is a great way to help cross train and get in a good cardio workout. I run ultras, marathons. I use the ellip about 3 times a week, maybe 4 for 60 mins to 90 mins each session and it saves my knees and feet and still gives me a good workout. I can set the tension up and do hills and intervals on it
  • Jthanmyfitnesspal
    Jthanmyfitnesspal Posts: 3,193 Member
    My 2 cents:

    You should be able to walk a 5k in less than 50 minutes before you start trying to run it.

    If you can't yet do that, work on your walking outdoors and/or on the treadmill. Cross training on elliptical (and anything else) is great, but you need to do a good walking about 3 times a week to get any faster. Once you get the speed walking and are comfortable with it, you can jump into C25K, progressing through the workouts as slowly as you feel you need to. Feel free to repeat or even go back between the workouts. If your knee hurts, stop jogging for a while, doing other stuff (elliptical is really good). Since C25K is supposed to be 3 days a week, you can continue to cross train on the other days on elliptical or whatever else you want.

    Best of luck!
  • Spliner1969
    Spliner1969 Posts: 3,233 Member
    You're going to find that you can increase your endurance with the elliptical but running actually involves different muscles which you likely won't be using with the elliptical. Each machine is different, and some are even designed to replicate running, but you'd be closer with a treadmill than an elliptical. It's still good effort though, and it'll help you burn calories all winter and it'll help you build endurance. But when you do go out to start running in the spring, take it slow, run a little, walk a little, build up to a mile, then two, etc. You will find some muscles will be sore from running that weren't sore from the elliptical, those will be the ones not being engaged with the elliptical.

    Almost three years ago when I started my weight loss journey I had never run more than a mile, and that was something like 30 years prior when they made us do it in school lol. So basically I had no running experience at all. I started by walking as far as I could as fast as I could. I gradually increased speed week after week, and eventually started running up hills and sections of my walking path until I could run a mile, then two miles, then this year I managed to run a 5k, and by the end of the summer was doing a 5k in under 30 minutes. So just work your way up and you'll be fine. I am also stuck on an elliptical in the winter, so I have to work back up to running each spring.
  • mitch16
    mitch16 Posts: 2,114 Member
    How far out from ACL surgery are you? Do you have full clearance from your surgeon/your PT to resume all activities?

    Speaking from my experience--I am 18 months post-ACL reconstruction--start on a "soft" surface first... This can be the treadmill, a grass field, or a outdoor running track. Roads and sidewalks are your last choices. The treadmill, as someone else mentioned, does force you into a somewhat unnatural stride, but it's less noticeable when you are going slower. I find now that I am getting back to my pre-injury speed the treadmill kind of bothers my knee--4 miles is about my limit there. The grass, while it's very nice and soft, does tend to be somewhat uneven, and a misstep into a small hole could cause re-injury. Pay careful attention to the grass in front of you if you choose grass. For these reasons, the running track at the local high school is my favorite surface of the 3, albeit a little boring to run in circles.
  • GOT_Obsessed
    GOT_Obsessed Posts: 817 Member
    Oh my ACL injury and surgery is years behind me. (1994) But it still gets annoying with certain things. I am pretty sure it's because of my weight.

    You people are awesome and very wise! Thanks from the bottom of my heart.