Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Alter-G Treadmill: Ideal For Bouncing Back From Injury

Here's how one Running community member has maintained her half-marathon training while injured.

In the midst of my training for my first-ever half marathon, I've been suffering from posterior tibial tendonitis, which can be very painful to run with, due to the amount of impact. But I've been rehabbing my injury with lots of great tricks that my physical therapists have turned me on to. One of them is the Alter-G Anti-Gravity Treadmill, which offers precise levels of partial weight-bearing so that athletes can train with less pressure on their joints. Usually, I run for 30 minutes on the Alter-G at 70 percent weight, which I suppose is what it would feel like if I were running 30 pounds lighter. It's not as simple as it sounds: Because you're not at normal weight bearing, you have less control when running, which means you need to use more core strength when running to keep everything tight and together. Still, when I'm running on it, I don't feel any pain — and it's easy to run much faster than normal. Lots of fun, and a great way to build back your cardiovascular and running strength when bouncing back from injury!

Whether you're just starting the Couch to 5k program for beginners or are logging miles training for a marathon, the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill can help in a big way.

More information here:

Sunday, June 6, 2010

My favorite post-long run snack!

Want a recipe to recover fast after a long or hard run?

The simple formula is this:  Timing + What You Eat = Fast Recovery!

There is a window of opportunity post workout where your muscles are like a dry sponge – 30 to 90 minutes after you’re finished. When you eat during that window, you provide your muscles the essential nutrients to quickly recovery … allowing for another strong and effective workout next time out.

What you eat is JUST as important as when you eat … and The Optimum Recovery Ratio suggests ingesting one gram of protein for every four grams of carbohydrates.

My 3-year old daughter and I created a very tasty snack that fits closely into the optimal Recovery Ratio ... it's awesome ... and guarantees your kids will eat some extra fruit!

Kayla's Reese Delight

  • Place 1 robust tbs. of crunchy peanut butter (low fat and/or organic) into a coffee cup - zap in the microwave for 35 seconds to soften 
  • Pour an ounce of organic low fat milk, or almond or soy milk into the melted peanut butter - stir vigorously until mixture becomes a thick liquid 
  • Drop in one full scoop of chocolate Beverly Muscle Provider - mix together thoroughly. You may need to add a little more milk to adjust the consistency - it should be a thick dipping sauce.
  • Then dip a banana, sliced apples, grapes or strawberries into this heavenly delight ...and ENJOY!!!
There you have it – a delicious treat that even the kids will love!

Your friend in fitness,

Brian Calkins

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Final Prep for the Flying Pig!

Here we are, the week of your Flying Pig event!

Now that your training is over, there are 3 things you can do to get prepared for a great run on Sunday.

1. Keep all of your thoughts positive!

Too much stress the week of a marathon (half or relay) will take its toll on your physical capabilities and performance on Sunday. This week is all about positive thoughts – there’s nothing else you can do to prepare, other than some short, easy runs, laying out your running gear, and the 2 other keys below. Just remember, YOU ARE PREPARED and you WILL DO WELL on Sunday. The most important thing at this point is to absorb as much joy from this experience as possible.  Go to the expo, watch some of the events on Saturday, get into the spirit of the Marathon weekend.  This is a special time.

2. Create Your Race Plan

Mentally plan out how you’re going to run on Sunday. Take caution in starting too aggressively (which is likely to biggest reason for a slower than anticipated time). It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the event...or have your competitive juices kick in when the gun goes off...or even to just forget to check your pace with each mile marker.

You’re going to be jacked up with the crowd and festivities. So again, RELAX.

Plan your race out in segments and make sure you have plenty of gas in the tank for the home stretch. Check your times at each mile. For example, if your goal is to finish the marathon in 4 hours (or half in 2 hours), you should be averaging about 9:09 per mile. If you have a Garmin the tracks your pace, you’re all set. If you do not, other options include running with a pace group, or plotting out what your ideal time should be at each mile marker.

(You can go to to plug in your ideal completion time and find your per mile pace).

Also, you might consider having two goals, if a finishing time is important to you. An “I’m happy with this time” goal and an “I’m totally thrilled with this time” goal. As an example, I'm running the half on Sunday.  My best half time to date is 1:44:50.  I'll be happy if I hit that again, but thrilled if I get close to 1:40:00.

3. It’s Time to EAT!

Starting on Wednesday, the goals is to maximize glycogen storage in muscle, which means you need to eat more complex carbohydrates than you normally do.

Remember, all carbs are not created equal. Some supply energy very quickly (with very quick corresponding “crashes” in blood sugar) while others provide a slow, steady stream of energy. Carbohydrates are classified by numbers between 1 and 100, called the glycemic index (GI).

Complex whole grain carbs are generally lower on the GI and filter into your system more slowly. Foods that are low on the GI list tend to keep your blood glucose stable and give you a steady supply of energy, allowing you to maintain longer runs for longer periods of time. Wednesday through Saturday you want a lot of low GI foods – whole grain bread, pasta, rice, cereal and beans.

And you'll want to make sure you're drinking lots of water with those carbs.  The idea is to store extra glycogen in your muslces, and that requires plenty of water.

Saturday afternoon/evening, you can transition away from the pastas to more of the simple carbs.  Hey, you want a few cookies or other sugary foods? The night before a long run event is the time to do it!

Just be cautious on Saturday, if you've suffered Runners Gut or other digestive problems on long runs, avoid dairy (lactose), fiber and cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and beans; they contain raffinose, a gas-inducing compound.

A simple carbohydrate is high on the GI and dumps into your blood stream very quickly. This is what you want to consume during the Flying Pig, especially if you're doing the full marathon. And whatever strategy you’ve been using for pumping sugar into your system, stay with that system. Gels, sport drinks, or whatever, don’t mess around with changing your approach on race day - whatever you used during your long runs will work for you on Sunday.

Remember, you are creating an experience that you will remember vividly for the rest of your life. Go out on Sunday, enjoy this incredible milestone, and soak up as much of this experience as possible!!

I look forward to seeing you at the Pig - Get Your Oink On!!

Your friend in fitness,
Brian Calkins

Sunday, April 11, 2010

One of my Favorite Lance Armstrong Quotes

"Through my illness I learned rejection. I was written off. That was the moment I thought, okay, game on. No prisoners. Everybody's going down." – Lance Armstrong

What fuels your inner drive to keep training?

Brian Calkins

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Alter-G treadmill uses NASA technology to make you feel light on your feet

by Zachary Lewis

Ever wish you could run on the moon? Well, now you can, sort of, and you don't even have to put on a spacesuit.

You do have to wear spandex, however. That's because this would-be interstellar journey involves a treadmill, specifically, an Alter-G treadmill, a new high-tech device that requires compression shorts and makes you feel lighter when running by encasing your legs in an airtight chamber.

Whether and how such an anti-gravity machine improves one's everyday fitness remain open questions. I only used it for a few minutes. But its therapeutic potential is real, and there's no doubt the Alter-G is unlike any other piece of equipment on the planet.

Conceived years ago by NASA, Alter-G treadmills are now being sold commercially. But at $55,000 a pop, they're not exactly intended for your average weekend jogger, but are, rather, the province of medical facilities and professional sports.

Here in Cincinnati, for instance, I could only track down one, with the Cincinnati Bengals. There's another one up in Cleveland - at the Cleveland Clinic.

Well, until now, that is. Cincinnati's HealthStyle Fitness will be the first in Ohio, Indiana or Kentucky of offer the Alter-G to the public by way of AlterG memberships.

While runners have been among the first to adopt Alter-G, the machine is probably best for those who can't run. Before and after my session, I saw therapists using the Alter-G with patients who otherwise could barely walk, let alone run. There they were, though, jogging without pain or fear of falling. Amazing.

In most respects, the Alter-G looks and works like a regular treadmill. It has a monitor in front and handles on the side. The belt and frame are perhaps a bit heftier than usual.

The main difference, of course, is the anti-gravity piece, a balloon that inflates from a pump up front to form an airtight chamber around the base and your lower body. To use it, you wear "G-trainer shorts," -- the waist zips into the top of the bag like the waterproof skirt of a kayak.

Once you're locked and loaded, the belt starts moving and you're free to adjust for speed and incline, as on a regular treadmill. Only here, you can also control how much of your weight you want to feel. You can go all the way down to about 20 percent, roughly the same sensation astronauts experience on the moon.

Not that you'd want to go that low. A few percentage points suffice to make you feel lighter and freer, and by 15, you're prancing along like a gazelle. Make that a centaur, since your torso is still fully weighted.

The benefits of running on an Alter-G stem from landing on your toes as you run, rather than your heels. With less gravity to fight, your stride lengthens, and the strain on your knees, hips and lower back disappears. Suddenly it's easy to maintain a swift pace.

The appeal of Alter-G is undeniable. If you're someone who logs mileage every week in lust of a better half or full marathon, yet your body is beat up, this would be a great way to go the distance without risking injury.

And for those who are injured, the Alter-G allow you to continue training, pain free, as you recovery - without losing all the fitness you've worked so hard for!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

5 Ways to Train Through the Pain

By Matt Fitzgerald

Injuries often plague the life of a runner. When they happen, they are painful, debilitating and frustrating. The most frustrating part of being injured is knowing that your hard-earned fitness is deteriorating while you take time off from training to heal.

In fact, this frustration can be so great that runners are often too reluctant to take time off or tempted into resuming training too soon. Consequently, injuries become worse or last longer than they should.

One way to prevent this sort of self-sabotage is to choose a favorite go-to cross-training activity that you can switch to whenever an injury makes running impossible or unwise. Having such a fallback option greatly reduces the temptation to run when you should not because it enables you to preserve fitness even when you cannot run. Obviously, there is no alternative to running that builds and maintains running-specific fitness as well as running itself, but there are some alternatives that come relatively close.

The best running alternatives are those that are most similar to running itself. Activities such as swimming and rowing are not great alternatives to running because, while they stimulate the cardiovascular system, they are arm-dominant versus leg-dominant movements. So what are the best activities for "training through" running injuries? Here are my top five:

Antigravity Treadmill Running

The Alter-G antigravity treadmill is, in my opinion, the single most important running-related invention in history. It is a normal treadmill with a tent-like enclosure attached to it. The user steps through a hole at the top of the enclosure and seals himself in around the waist, creating an airtight seal. The chamber is then pressurized, and this high-pressure zone effectively reduces the force of gravity within it. The amount of pressure is adjustable, enabling the user to run at anywhere between 20 percent and 100 percent of his actual body weight.

I have had every type of running overuse injury that exists, and I have used the Alter-G treadmill several times. Based on this experience I can say that runners can train through any injury--pain free and without setting back the healing process--on this machine. What's more, it is not an alternative to running; it is running. Therefore it is superior to every form of cross-training in terms of building and maintaining running fitness.

Case in point: The formerly often-injured runner Dathan Ritzenhein trained exclusively on an Alter-G for several weeks while nursing an IT band injury. He was only ready to return to regular outdoor running two weeks before the 2008 USA Cross-Country Championships. Nevertheless, he won the race easily. That simply would not have been possible had he been forced to resort to pool running or bicycling.

The downside of the Alter-G antigravity treadmill is that it costs $75,000. Only a handful of units are accessible for injured runners to use in high-end physical therapy facilities. On March 30, 2010, the AlterG will be availalbe at HealthStyle Fitness, in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Steep Uphill Walking

In my opinion, the next best thing to running on an antigravity treadmill is steep uphill treadmill walking. Research has shown that the human brain uses exactly the same motor pattern to run or walk briskly on steep gradients. In other words, when you crank the treadmill incline up to 12 to 15 percent, running becomes walking and walking becomes running. Therefore, walking on a steep incline is a highly specific way to maintain running fitness. But impact forces are reduced drastically compared to running, so steep uphill walking is possible with most injuries.

Many runners don't think of walking as a good alternative to running when injured because they assume they cannot match their normal intensity. Trust me: You can. Set the incline at 12 to 15 percent, increase the belt speed to 4 mph or so, check your heart rate and you'll see.

The only limitation of steep uphill running is that, while it is a low-impact activity, it is not a non-impact activity. Thus it cannot be done pain-free with all injuries. For example, I was unable to use steep uphill walking as an alternative to running once when I had an Achilles tendon strain.

Pool Running

Pool running is the traditional alternative to normal running. There are two types of pool running: deep-water running, where the feet do not make contact with the bottom of the pool, and shallow-water running (usually waist high), where the feet do make contact with the bottom of the pool. I think that shallow-water running is preferable because it enables the runner to better maintain adaptations to repetitive impact, thus reducing the risk that new injuries occur after the runner returns to normal outdoor running.

As with steep uphill walking, though, because shallow pool running is a low-impact (versus a non-impact) activity, it cannot be done pain-free with all injuries.

Elliptical Training

The elliptical trainer was specifically designed to mimic the running action without impact, and thus it offers an effective way to maintain running fitness. I find it incredibly boring, though, so I only do it when I'm really desperate.


Cycling may seem less running specific than the other running alternatives discussed in this article, but a lot of noteworthy runners have used it with great success. For example, in 2004, Meb Keflezighi relied heavily on bike training to build fitness for the New York City Marathon because of injury troubles. He still managed to finish second.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Another Great Benefit to the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill

To Maximize Fitness Retention During Rehabilitation

Athletes need to be able to maintain high fitness levels while they are injured. Match the aerobic intensity of an athlete’s workout and lower the impact on his/her injured body by using a combination of adjustable variables:
  • weight adjustment (100% to 20% weight-bearing in 1% increments)
  • speed adjustment (0mph to 18mph)
  • incline adjustment (0% to 15%)

“I think it's the best piece of equipment made for running in the last 30 years, the most revolutionary piece of equipment, without a doubt!”

-Alberto Salazar, Director of Nike Oregon Project & American Running Legend

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Alter-G Anti-Gravity Treadmill Cleared by FDA, Comes to Cincinnati...

FDA cleared and built on NASA technology, AlterG is changing the way people recover and athletes train. The unique technology allows you to run or walk at a fraction of your body weight, so you can dial in exactly where the pain stops and movement feels good again. Leading medical professionals are using AlterG to help their patients recover better and have a smooth return to activity. Top athletes and teams are using AlterG to recover and train smarter, reducing the frequency of training injuries by minimizing stress on their joints, while still building fitness.

Owner of HealthStyle Fitness, brings the Alter-G to Cincinnati in early April, 2010.

More information:

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

AlterG's Revolutionary Anti-Gravity Treadmill Comes to Cincinnati...

AlterG, Inc., makers of the Anti-Gravity Treadmill, a revolutionary technology for rehabilitation and athletic training, recently launched the AlterG M300. The M300 delivers the same anti-gravity technology originally developed at NASA and found in AlterG's P200 series, only at a third of the price and with a sleek new design. This means the world's only anti-gravity treadmill will be accessible to millions of people who are looking to rehabilitate more easily from injury or surgery or who want to train smarter. The AlterG M300 is optimized in form, function and price for physical therapy clinics, athletic training and leading fitness facilities.

Cincinnati’s HealthStyle Fitness will have the first unit in the Tri-State area available on April 15, 2010.

More information on the AlterG is available at

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

This Week's Running Schedule...

Okay great job last week! Saturday's long run was very successfully done!

Here's our running schedule for the week for those that completed a Half Marathon this past fall...

Monday: Monday is a cross training day. If you're signed up for Adventure Boot Camp, make sure you're in camp on 2 of the cross training days (M-W-F). In order for us to succeed at the Pig, we need to train. If the weather is bad, we still run. If you have important business and cannot make the group runs or boot camp, it's important to find another time to get your workout in. Why? Because the accumulation of our workouts over a period of the next 18 weeks will make you a better runner and get you prepared for the Flying pig.

Tuesday: On Tuesday we'll do a recovery run of 4 miles at a comfortable or easy pace, the same as last week. This workout shouldn't take very long and it's critically important in the process of oxygenating your cells and muscles in a manner that will help you recover from last week's training. The most important thing, though, go easy on Tuesday.

Wednesday: Cross training again. If you're not in boot camp, do some strength training, focusing on all of your muscles. But make sure you're working your legs to give you the support you need to long distance running.

Thursday: Another "easy" 5 miles.

Friday: Cross training again. Keep your muscles strong and your body healthy for all the accumulated mileage.

Saturday: Today is long-run day, and we're adding one mile to last week's long run for 15 miles. Next week we'll taper back to 9 miles to allow our body some recovery before going a bit longer the following 2 weeks. One mistake you want to avoid is running these long runs too fast. How did you do Saturday with your pace? Although long, it shouldn't have felt overwhelming.

Just remember, we never want to do our long runs faster than about 90 seconds per mile slower than our estimated marathon pace (Use this calculator to determine marathon pace: Running too fast on the long days creates too much stress, coupled with your other training, making it difficult for the body to recover.

Sunday: A well earned day of rest.

As a reminder, the group will be meeting at Crossroads East Entrance on Tuesday and Thursday this week (5:30am), and here at our studio on Saturday at 6:30am.

During the holidays attendance has been low ... please let me know if your plans running with the group have changed so we have a general idea of who will be meeting each week (and we're not waiting on someone may be running on their own). Thank you.


For those training for the full Pig just joining the group, here's your schedule:

Monday: Strength training day.

Tuesday: On Tuesday we'll do a run of 3 miles at a comfortable or easy pace.

Wednesday: Cross training again.

Thursday: Another "easy" 4 miles.

Friday: Cross training again. Keep your muscles strong and your body healthy for all the accumulated mileage.

Saturday: Today is long-run day, up to 6 miles.

Sunday: A well earned day of rest.

See you on Saturday!!

Your Friend in Fitness,
Brian Calkins