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Up until a few months ago, I was a runner.

I wasn’t running from anything in particular.  Or to anything in particular.  I would leave my house, run, and end up back at my house.  I was running to keep in shape and be healthy.  All this healthy living cost me several toenails, and more recently, a tibial stress fracture.

But my stress fracture did not heal even after I stopped running for seven weeks.  An orthopedic surgeon reviewed the second MRI and declared that he was “unimpressed.”

So, you got a broken bone?

That don’t impress me much.

But he did think it was okay to start back running again.  A little.  He thought it was in some stage of healing.  He used a lot of big words that we eye doctors don’t comprehend.  I tried to look at the MRI myself , but I couldn’t tell whether I was giving birth to a boy or a girl.  I know this much:  there wasn’t any eyeball there.

Instead of my usual 7-10 miles 4-5 times a week, I was restricted to 1-2 miles at most as my leg would tolerate.  That’s almost like being able to have sex, but you can’t go past foreplay.  At one to two miles I’m just getting loose and finding my stride.  But I really wanted to run again.  Within a week, though, my treacherous tibia was aching again.

I already tried swimming.  That didn’t work for me.  I’m not a very good swimmer with two good legs.  I was a drowning waiting to happen.

Stationary bike?  I’m sure Hell is filled with these.

So when my wife and I had the opportunity to buy a used elliptical from a friend who wanted to share her pain with us, I jumped at the opportunity.  Okay, it wasn’t exactly a jump, since that would stress my fracture.

But an elliptical trainer was on the list of approved torture devices that I was allowed to subject myself to.

So after delivery, I was anxious to try this new machine.

As you probably can tell, I am not a machine kind of guy.  I like to throw on the sneakers, commune with nature,  and hit the pavement.  Unfortunately for me, the pavement hits back.  We have a treadmill, but even with its “cushioned deck” there is too much impact for my tibia.  I simply can’t endure spinning on a stationary bike.  I don’t even like biking outside for that matter.  I have tried the stationary bike while listening to music.  I have tried it watching football.  I have tried it watching movies.  I have tried to spin while watching I Love Lucy in the morning.  I.  Kid.  You.  Not.  I will not pedal here or there, I will not pedal anywhere.  I do not like it, Sam I am!

So I was anxious to try this elliptical, but not without some trepidation.

Would I like it?  Will it bore me to tears?

Will I look like this?

The Tony Little "Gazelle"

Run little gazelle, run!

I have gained 12 pounds since I stopped running.  (Unfortunately, I didn’t stop eating and cheeseburgers don’t hurt my tibia.)  Will I be able to exercise again and feel good about myself?

Will it hurt my freaking leg?

I finally got on the machine.

It wasn’t so bad.  Unlike running on the treadmill, there are handles to hold onto.  This is good because I never quite knew what to do with my hands when I ran.  It keeps them busy for me.  I guess it’s kind of like cross country skiing, if I had ever tried that.  But it wasn’t bad and there was no pounding on my tibia.

Ten minutes into the program, I’m feeling pretty good.  I’ve got my running tunes playing on the Ipod and I am a lean, mean elliptical machine.  I’m not a gazelle, but that’s probably a good thing.  I’m actually starting to work up a sweat.  Then, I notice a button that says ‘FAN.’  I push it and the fan turns on.  What a machine!  Genius!

It’s like I’m cross-country skiing in Antarctica with a cool breeze blowing through my hair.  I am so getting the sensation.  It’s almost like being outdoors, but without the quaint smell of skunk or garbage dumpsters lingering in the crisp morning air.

I’ve used the machine three times now, not exceeding 30 minutes.  My tibia has not flared up.  It remains to be seen whether I will eventually become bored or not, but so far I have been pleasantly surprised.  The motion is surprisingly familiar–close enough to running for me to enjoy it and not so different as to be annoying.

For runners looking for a low impact alternative, I highly recommend getting elliptical.

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