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Coach Steve being aero!

ALTERNATIVES: So you have a injury; you're stressed because you can't run. I've known a few runners who swear they've never had an injury, but I don't believe it. Injuries—both minor and major—are part of the deal for runners. If you're in the sport for more than exercise, just finishing is not enough. You have to push past your limit to find your potential. Sometimes your limit is an injury making you a aware of a mechanical problem that must be resolved; sometimes injury comes when you max-out on distance and you body says 'no more.'

There are plenty of ways to stay fit while you can't run, but you must be open alterative aerobic fitness options. With time off you'll lose some run-specific fitness, but you don't have to lose any aerobic fitness. Many duathletes and triathletes are 'born' from run injuries.

Swimming is a stretch for many runners, but also the least taxing aerobic workout for lower body stress. In the pool it doesn't matter if one leg is longer than the other, or if you over-pronate. In fact over-pronating flat feet work best for a powerful swim kick. The nearly locked knee beating motion for swimming is not much like the run motion though.

Pool runs are a viable option to simulate the run motion with zero stress from impact. You'll need a flotation belt, and most athletes need to do some sort of interval workout to break it up, reducing the boredom of essentially running in place.

Elliptical trainers can be helpful, though not an exact simulation of the run motion where the push-off is key. The motion on an elliptical trainer is a legs-out-front sort of over-striding movement as compared to real runs, still better than nothing!

Stair steppers are more like cycling than running. Pushing down from a high knee is much like pedaling because it's more quad intensive than running, but still effective as an aerobic workout.

As you get back into running after an injury soft surfaces ease the build back as your legs are re-introduced to impact stress. I like rubber tracks best, but a treadmill has a little give that some runners find reassuring. Too many runs on a treadmill will eventually leave some key muscles weak though. Level dirt surfaces, as-well-as the hard low-tide sand of a beach (if you're lucky enough to have that option) also work well to reduce stress.

Of course cycling is a great aerobic workout if you push the pace to run heart rates. The muscle movement is not especially similar to running, but the feel of covering a lot of ground with no impact stress can be quite refreshing. You can put in lots of time with little or no risk of injury—unless you fall off!

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