Using the AlterG to Conquer the NYC Marathon

This is a wonderful and inspiring story that we received from Amber Fatone, an avid runner who uses the AlterG at Finish Line PT in New York.

“When I first heard about the Alter G I secretly hoped Brynn (my physical therapist) would let me try it out just for fun, because I figured anything defined as ‘anti-gravity’ must be spectacular. What I didn’t know at the time was just how heavily I would rely on this anti-gravity treadmill in the month before my first marathon.

I was training for the NYC marathon with Team in Training and after my first (and only) 18 mile run about 6 weeks before the marathon, my left knee gave up. This was no surprise because I’d been in and out of Finishline for eight months due to my “bad knees”. However, this time my knee pain was so intense and so different, it actually made me question if running a marathon was worth it; a thought that had never crossed my mind before. If 18 miles brought me to tears though, I didn’t want to imagine what 26.2 miles would do to me. Luckily Finishline came to the rescue with a training plan that would potentially keep me in the game and let me run pain free.

Enter the Alter G.

The plan involved me running only on the Alter G three times a week until race day. This meant I would not touch ground for a total of five weeks prior to the marathon. Not my favorite idea, but I was willing to try anything; even if it meant not running outside with my team and spending all of my free time at Finishline (I could certainly think of worse places to spend time!). I postponed my marathon dream once before and was not about to do it again just yet.

After my first Alter G session I was definitely skeptical. I ran at 65% body weight for an hour and felt like I was prancing along on a trampoline instead of running. I wasn’t exactly pain free either, which was discouraging. But by Friday of my first week, I was hooked. I ran at 85% body weight, which Brynn promised was “just like running on the ground” and I was pain free both during and after my Alter G session. I was gaining confidence rapidly. If I could handle two hours on a treadmill, surely running through the streets of NYC would be a piece of cake. I also didn’t care that my teammates were running 20 miles on solid ground and I was only running 14 miles zipped into an anti-gravity treadmill. At least I was running. There is no doubt in my mind that if my training plan involved anything other than running, it would have failed. Mentally I needed to run in order to still believe I had a shot at the marathon.

By week two of life with the Alter G, my knees felt incredible. I wondered if perhaps they’d been cured completely. By week three I knew what it felt like to run with normal knees; a previously inconceivable idea. But as race day approached I had a new concern. How would my body react to running with gravity now? Even though Brynn convinced me that running at 85% body weight was comparable to ground running, I had my doubts. I worried that I’d feel heavy and sluggish during the marathon, which would be a shame since I felt extremely prepared in every other way. The Alter G strengthened my cardio fitness significantly. It also provided a mental challenge that running outdoors with teammates did not. I loved the Alter G and everything it offered me so much that I fantasized about bringing it with me to the marathon. If I had the Alter G by my side what could go wrong?

However, on November 7th it was just me and gravity; A fact that I was well aware of during the first mile of the marathon. It felt like several small children grabbed onto my ankles and refused to let go as I dragged them up the Verrazano Bridge. I almost hit the panic button, but as the downhill approached I regained my natural running legs and at that point knew the Alter G had done its job. It was not until many hours and miles later when I crossed the finish line pain-free, that I realized how good of a job it actually did.”

 

 

Amber Fatone
Finish Line PT – Brooklyn, NY

 

 

 

 

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