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Amber Fatone blogs about her experience training for the 2010 New York City Marathon on the AlterG.

Posted in Blog, News, Rehabilitation, Running.

September 16th, 2013

Ode To The AlterG, The Best Invention. Ever.

It’s no secret that the AlterG holds a very special place in my heart. In fact, I am pretty sure I would have given up running if it were not for that machine.

Back in 2010 when I was training for my first marathon, I had consistent knee issues (similar to the “dreaded runners knee” that Brynn wrote about). Luckily I found my way to Finish Line Physical Therapy through the help of my Team In Training coaches. My knees were so angry at me after an 18-mile out-and-back run to Coney Island one Saturday that Brynn, my PT, decided it was time to put me on an “Anti Gravity-Only Running Diet” for my last five weeks of marathon training.

I was skeptical, but I was willing to try anything that might help me cross the finish line of my first marathon. So I ran … and ran … and ran on the AlterG.

I am pretty sure I was the first person to do a long run in the AlterG. It was a lovely 2.5 hours one Friday afternoon in September.

Okay, yes you have to wear tight funny shorts and zip yourself into a bubble and it gets pretty hot in there and sometimes you get a wedgie … but at least the AlterG allows you to RUN. Which for a runner, is very important. And for a newbie runner like me in 2010, was the only way to mentally prepare for race day. No swimming or biking regimen could take the place of running in my mind. Sure it might be a bouncier type of running, but it was still running and it still counted!

You see, the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill lets you move with less of your body weight. Say you are recovering from knee surgery and need to start walking but are not full weight bearing. You can get on the AlterG and walk at 50% of your body weight! Or say you’re me in 2010 and trying to run a marathon on cranky knees, you can run at 80% of your body weight and in turn be kinder to your knees and not present the same symptoms as if you ran with full body weight on pavement.

Basically, the AlterG is a magic bubble.

Needless to say I crossed the finish line of the New York City Marathon healthy and full of gravity.

Now I consider the AlterG my safety net. Whenever my knees get cranky during a long run and I start to panic, I think of the AlterG and know that it’s waiting for me if I need it. Even when I am feeling 100% I still use the AlterG once a week to get in a good speed work out and in general to be a little nicer to my joints. The AlterG is my way of saying thank you to my knees that clearly do not like this marathon hobby I’ve taken up over the last three years.

So if you are currently “stuck” training on the AlterG, embrace it, be thankful that such a machine was invented, and know that no matter how bouncy or weird you feel in that bubble, it’s still running and it still counts!

Amber Fatone is the assistant office manager at Finish Line Physical Therapy. Amber has experienced the full spectrum at Finish Line, starting as a patient then joining the staff as a PT aide in 2010 before transiting to her current role. She has crossed the finish line in three marathons (New York, Marine Corps, Philadelphia) and five half-marathons. Read her full bio.

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