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LA Marathon Training Sessions on the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill at Athletico in Chicago

Since November, I’ve been training very intensely for the LA Marathon on March 9th, 2014. It will be my third running at LA and special for a number of reasons, namely because 1) LA was my first marathon back in 2009, 2) It falls exactly on my birthday this year and 3) I’ll be raising money for The White Heart Foundation in honor of my grandfather who is a WWII Vet and all other veterans, especially those injured in the line of fire. I’ve also had the best marathon build-up for this one, despite numerous polar vortices in Chicago! 


Not only have I been able to train almost like a professional athlete, thanks to the incredible studio I’m apart of at Sweat on State, I actually had the opportunity to do some Anti-Gravity training down the street at Athletico. For the past two weeks, I’ve worked with the manager of the Gold Coast Athletico, Adam Wille, PT, MSPT, to train on the facility’s AlterG G-Trainer. To use the G-Trainer, athletes or recovering patients put on a pair of shortie wetsuit bottoms which seal their lower body into an inflatable pod on top of a Woodway treadmill. The treadmill then calibrates the athlete’s weight and gradually inflates the bubble. Once calibrated, athletes can use the onscreen controls to select a certain percentage of their body weight at which to run, from 100% down to 20%. For example, a 200-lb. person could choose to run at 80% of their body weight to see what it would feel like to race at 160-lbs. When combined with an HR monitor, power output and rate of perceived exertion (RPE), the machine is very useful in determining ideal racing weight and power-to-weight ratio.


At my first session on Friday, February 14th, I spent about 10-15-minutes warming up once I was inside the pod and experimenting at different percentages, taking it all the way down to 50 or 60% of my body weight, which feels like you’re running on the moon! I decided to run a 4-mile time trial at 92% of my body weight (in my case about 180-lbs). My goal was to gauge how running at nearly race-pace intensity would feel at a slightly lighter weight, with the ultimate goal of determining my racing weight. I was able to average nearly 6:30/mile pace for the duration of the time trial and felt pretty good. My rate of perceived exertion on a scale of  1-7 was about a 6 so I was very close to if not right at race pace.


AlterG training session #2 was this past Friday, February 21st, and after a 2-mile warmup, I did a 10K time trial (6.2-miles), again at 92% of my body weight. I ran my fastest 10K, with a time of 40:45. I began the TT at a 7:20/mile pace and dialed down my pace to below 6:30/mile pace during the first 2-3-miles. By mile 4 I was running at 6:22/mile and mile 5 was nearly 6:15/mile. I closed the last 1/4- to 1/2-mile of the TT at close to 6:00/mile pace! My heart rate was almost 190bpm by the end of it and I was extremely close to my threshold. This session was at the end of a very heavy week and two days before doing Clovis Hero WOD (10-mile Run + 150 Burpee Pull-ups).


Athletico and Adam Wille work with the Chicago Bears and Bulls and just about every other professional sports team in this city, dancers, endurance athletes and have helped thousands of other Chicagoans rehab injuries and get back on their feet as fast as possible! I’m grateful to partner with them during my training for the LA Marathon and appreciate their support. Thanks, Adam and your Team at Athletico Gold Coast! I’m looking forward to working with you in the future.


Follow these links if you’d like to learn more about the G-TRAINER or anything else that Athletico offers. Or email me and I’d be happy to make a personal introduction.


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Los Angeles 13.1 Half Marathon Race Report

Just when everyone thought I moved out of LA (including me), I came back to race the LA 13.1 half marathon from Venice to Manhattan Beach to Playa del Rey. Technically, this was a rebound race because I registered for it the week after I got back from Ironman in Hawai’i and so I was already signed up before I decided to move home to Tennessee. I was debating whether to follow through and run it but then I found a cheap flight and there I was at the starting line ready to go with the temperature in the high-30s…wait, WHAT?! Yes, the week I came back to LA was the coldest in about a decade. In fact, it was warmer back in Nashville and my family and friends there were enjoying 60+ degree weather! 

At 7:05 in the morning, the gun fired and we began running along the boardwalk in Venice as the sun rose to light the ocean and set the sky on fire. Despite the cold, it was such a beautiful day in LA. I was at the race with my friends, Curry, Tori and Garrett and had started near the front with Garrett. Garrett ran 1:19 in his first  and only half marathon (which was hilly) but he’d had the flu for the last week so we were going to pace together–my best time was a 1:31. I had been running a lot since November but wasn’t planning on actually doing this race in LA until about three weeks prior. I’ve started dabbling in CrossFit though, so I was keen to see how I would feel at this distance even after a week and a half of doing official Crossfit workouts.

We went out at a 6:40/mi pace for the first three miles, probably too hard, and felt pretty good. My pace gradually slowed but Garrett was feeling fine so he took off at mile 6 or 7. i went by 10K in just over 42 minutes and was just trying to focus on keeping my cadence at 180 steps per minute and landing on my forefoot. I’ve been researching the Pose running technique (similar to Chi Running, taught by Danny Drier), which emphasizes higher cadence and forefoot striking with your heel just kissing the ground. 

There were a few unexpected rollers at miles 7 and 8 and then a steady and very gradual rise up to the turnaround at mile 9 1/2. I’d seen my friend, Ken, aka DJ Sleeper, the night before and he said that he’d be performing somewhere on the course–Awesome! I heard some turntablism going on at the turnaround and that got me really fired up because it’s always encouraging to see familiar faces when you’re in pain. I opened up my legs into mile 10 and saw Curry as I got to the bottom of the hill I’d just climbed. 

Although my pace had slowed to around 7:15/mi, my legs and glutes were feeling stronger than I thought they should be at this point in a race (It seems even the short period of CrossFit and strength work was paying off already).

At mile 12, some guy with no shoes went sprinting by me. He was holding a pair of Vibrams in one hand and his feet looked like they had clearly developed muscles. That got me going a bit faster and then over my shoulder I saw a girl running up on me, which always lights my feet on fire–I’d already been chicked a few times today and didn’t want to let it happen again a half mile from the finish line. #justbeingreal

I hit the last mile in about 6:55/mi pace and crossed the line in 1:33:17, 14/96 in M25-29 and 86/1,904 overall.

I read an article last night and this line jumped out at me: “Pain cannot be ignored; it has be to be conquered, and when it inevitably returns, it has to be conquered again.” 

Looking forward to the next race!