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MONUMENTAL MILE
THURSDAY, JUNE 6, 2019

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The First-Timers Guide to the Alter G

The First-Timers Guide to the Alter G

Beyond Monumental
A step-by-step guide, as told by an Alter G newbie.

Step 0: Dress Right – Like most runners, I had a vague idea of what an Alter G was, but not how it worked. Technically the Alter G: “Uses NASA Differential Air Pressure technology and comfortably supports the user and “unweights” them by as much as 80% (adjustable in 1% increments).”

So what does that mean for a run? You need an air pressure seal. You need to put on a pair of wetsuit-like shorts over your regular shorts that zip into the machine, so the best bet is to wear tighter-fitting shorts to reduce uncomfortable bunching.

Also, expect to be a bit warmer than normal. The extra fabric of the shorts, and the lack of wind created by being in the “air pressure box” makes for a warmer run than a regular treadmill or outdoor run.

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Alter G Shorts
Step 1: Get Ready.
Tie your shoes well, empty your bladder, and adjust your socks. You don’t want to have to stop, or change anything from the waist down once you get going.
Step 2: Learn all about it
Since it was my first time signing up for the Alter G, a Physical Therapist from Franciscan Health was there to help me every step of the way. Lindsey demonstrated how to adjust the gravity, speed, and incline. She also gave me ideas on how other runners use this versatile tool to not only return from injury, but also to supplement their training:

  • Running at the same pace and gradually increasing gravity to increase difficulty
  • Getting great speed work and leg turnover with reduced impact at a very low gravity
  • Running backwards to use other muscle groups

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Step 3: Get Comfortable and Try it Out!

Steps to a GREAT Alter G Run:

  1. Ask Questions! At first, I couldn’t carry my arms at a normal gait because I felt like I was going to hit the top of the pressure chamber. Turns out it’s adjustable, just let them know!
  2. Don’t go all in right away. The Alter G is capable of reducing your weight to 80% of your normal body weight and it takes a little getting used to. It took me a while to feel like I wasn’t floating away, so I gradually reduced gravity and increased the speed.
  3. Have fun! After my initial “weirdness”, I started to really enjoy myself. Running at your regular tempo pace at an ‘easy-run’ heart rate is pretty incredible! Since I wasn’t injured, I used my session to get some quick turnover in my legs with reduced impact. I pushed the machine to 5:30/mile pace, and it showed no signs of stopping. (Note: As an added bonus, it didn’t shake and sound like it was going to fall apart like a lot of treadmills do at that speed!)
  4. Practice Good Form. Not only does the Alter G keep you from moving from side to side, it has a camera pointed at your feet that displays on a monitor in front of you. It was neat to watch my foot strike change as I adjusted speeds.

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The Alter G can be a valuable tool in any runner’s training, whether it’s aiding you in a return from injury or valuable time spent running without impact. Franciscan CityWay offers one-hour private sessions at $25/hour or 5 x 1 hours sessions for $100.

For more information you can call (317) 528-6804.

Happy Running!