Introducing the Zero Runner: The future of pain-free running?

A couple of months ago we heard about a new fitness machine that had made its debut to rave reviews at this year’s John Hancock Sports & Fitness Expo, the mammoth expo that accompanies the Boston Marathon.

The Zero Runner

The Zero Runner

Called “The Zero Runner” this new treadmill alternative promised to provide the first “zero-impact” running experience, allowing for greater mileage without the risk of injury. We were intrigued to say the least, so when a Zero Runner arrived at an Ottawa Fitness Depot a couple of weeks ago, we went to check it out.

Designed and manufactured by Octane Fitness, a maker of high-end elliptical machines (like the LateralX which features a skating motion), the Zero Runner makes a breakthrough in the treadmill game by introducing “pedals”, which are attached to a mechanical knee and hip. The resulting mechanism mimics a runner’s natural gait without the foot touching the ground and creating an impact on the joints.

Up close the Zero Runner looks simple enough and has an attractive display with cool features like stride length. Dave Ross at Fitness Depot gave us a quick tutorial before strapping us in to give it a whirl. Dave had warned that the motion takes a bit to get used to, but after a couple of minutes of short striding we worked up to a rhythm that got the heart pumping. After getting used to it, the running motion felt increasingly natural, while focusing attention on some of the key stride elements.

As we didn’t have time to do a full run on the machine, we got in touch with Larry Schmidt, one of the Zero Runner’s early adopters, for more information.

Runner works out on a Zero Runner machine

Larry Schmidt giving his Zero Runner a workout at his home in Wisconsin.

A 63-year old Wisconsin runner with 80 marathons and a history of hip problems under his belt, Larry had not been able to run without pain for years. Larry immediately fell in love with the machine after trying it in Boston and has since put in over 500 miles on his home Zero Runner, including a recent 32-mile run over a 5-hour period—all pain-free.

According to Larry, the Zero Runner’s benefits are many, from being able to return to training sooner after hard runs, to maintaining perfect form throughout fatigue, to really activating your “hams and glutes.” Perhaps most compelling, Larry says that if “I had been able to incorporate this machine earlier on, who knows how many injuries I could have avoided.”

It’s a great testimonial and one that is sure to resonate with many runners who are either recovering from injuries or looking to prevent them in the future.

Interested in giving the Zero Runner a trial run? You can find one on the floor at the following Fitness Depot locations:

  • 499 Industrial Road, Ottawa
  • 255 Kanata Avenue, Centrum Plaza, Kanata