This past week, Octane Fitness invited bloggers to come and check out their new Zero Runner at Gym Source in NYC. Olympian Carrie Tollefson, who I had the pleasure to hang out and run with earlier this year, was going to be there. This, plus the fact that I’m a runner, gadget geek and lover of all toys fitness-related, meant I could not resist.
Octane has a long history of products that includes home and commercial elliptical machines, but this is their first go (anyone’s really) at a machine truly meant to simulate running. I know what you’re thinking… isn’t the treadmill a machine for runners? While yes, you can run on a treadmill, it’s not the same as running outside because the moving belt does a lot of work for you. With the Zero Runner, however, there is no belt or even a motor for that matter – it’s powered solely by the user and their stride.
The Zero runner is designed to supplement a runner’s training in such a way as to help prevent injury and improve performance and recovery. Not only is it zero impact, but its bionic legs feature innovative hip and knee joints that move with you – basically becoming an extension of your own legs. This allows a runner to perfect their form and gait, down to the heel kick.
Basically, the Zero Runner is what you’d get if a treadmill and an elliptical had a baby – but better. You have all the variations (uphill run, lunge, short stride or long stride, etc.), muscle activation and increased heart rate you want from running but without impact on the joints. So you can rack up the mileage with reduced risk of common overuse injuries. Plus, the fact that there’s no motor means that the Zero Runner is quiet and cordless.
Both Carrie and Larry Schmidt, a college runner who had taken years off to return in his late 30s to complete 73 marathons, 17 ultras and 6 Iron Men (can we say inspirational?), talked about their experiences with the Zero Runner. For Carrie, she believes if she had the Zero Runner back during the height of her training, it would have helped to prevent injuries that impacted her running career. She is now incorporating it into her training moving forward. For Larry, 61, pain since surgery for osteoarthritis has meant reducing the amount of time he can spend running outside. He’s found passion even in the rear pack of runners and just wants to be able to stay healthy enough to keep running and active. Well, that and win the Iron Man for the 83 to 84-year age group when he gets there.
Who is the Zero Runner for?
- The running enthusiast who wants to perform better but experience less impact and extend their running career.
- The aging or injured runner who wants to maintain their cardiovascular and fitness levels with minimal impact on their joints.
- The inspiring runner who has started running 5Ks and 10ks to get or stay in shape.
- The former athlete who currently exercise but has never seen themselves as an endurance runner. With minimal impact, they can get the benefits of running, many for the first time in years.
- The elite runner who wants to be able to train more but pound less. While their muscles and heart can take the pushing of intense training, their joints cannot. It’s at the times when our muscles are fatigued (think mile 16+ of a long run or the 6th training run of the week) that the pounding starts on our joints.
In other words, basically everyone could benefit from using the Zero Runner. For some, it can be their primary form of cardiovascular exercise, for others it can supplement their training regimen and be an alternative during inclement weather outdoors.
How can someone incorporate the Zero Runner into their routine?
First, it can be used to build endurance, allowing for longer training time without the pounding. The Zero Runner has an app that traces the health of your stride throughout your run, allowing you to concentrate on your form, so are as strong at mile five as you are at mile one.
Second, it can be used to reduce the impact of longer runs by splitting part of the run outdoors and part on the trainer (combo run).
Lastly, the Zero Runner is great for active recovery following a hard race or run, when muscle soreness has set in due to microtrauma to the muscle tissue. While this is not the time to go out and do heavy running, cross-training and low-impact movement can help to reduce stiffness, shorten recovery time and ease you back into your routine.
Most runners won’t cross-train even though they know it’s important to their running, recovery and prevention of injury. I’ve personally learned this the hard way with my numerous injuries (plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, lateral meniscus tear). I’ve also learned that a holistic approach to running is the best way to train. This means incorporating strength and flexibility training into your running workouts so that you can strengthen your core and weaker muscles – thus helping to correct muscle imbalances and reduce the risk of injury.
Not only does the Zero Runner provide a low-impact alternative for running, but it has resistance band (Cross Circuit) attachment points to allow for strength training. No matter what your sport, really, cross-training is important to prevent overuse injuries that can keep you sidelined for weeks, months or indefinitely. In other words, prehab is better than rehab.
The Zero Runner retails for $3299, putting it in the mid-price range of home fitness equipment. If you get a chance to try one out, make sure you do. It’s unlike anything I’ve tried before and if I had the opportunity (and NYC apartment space), I’d own one. I was pretty sad to lose and not win it in the raffle. Maybe my fairy god mother is listening…
This post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Octane Fitness.