Meet Chris Whitlock

November 18, 2014

Chris WhitlockChris Whitlock is a runner, road cyclist and ElliptiGO rider based in Preston, Lancashire. Chris recently emailed us with his ElliptiGO story, explaining his journey so far – and where he is heading with his future ElliptiGO training. Of key interest in his feedback was how cross training on the ElliptiGO has helped improve his performance on his road bike…

Although he bought his ElliptiGO to imporove his running training, Chris tells us it has been of even greater benefit to his fitness for cycling on his road bike – feedback which we’re hearing more and more as increasing numbers of road cyclists take up ElliptiGO riding…

Here is Chris’ story:

“I wasn’t very interested in sport at school, but played football and did some cross country running. My dad owned a couple of Gyms, so when I was in my late teens I helped out after work with inductions and personal training.

At the age of 21 a friend’s Dad who owned a parachute centre persuaded me to enrol on a skydiving course and I completed my first parachute jump and enjoyed the experience so much that I decided that it was THE sport for me.

Over the preceding years I competed 2,300 sky dives, won the Scottish 4 Way Formation Skydiving Championship twice and also won two silver medals in the British National Skydiving Championship (both in the 4 and 8 way formation events). I won the British Regional Skydiving Championships and many more competitions in the UK, Europe and USA.

Competing in sport skydiving at such a high level meant that a good level of fitness was required. I ran regularly and did lots of core exercises with stretches – to cope with the large amount of stress on my body due to the harsh openings and high G-forces experienced when skydiving. On training camps we regularly completed up to 12 skydives a day, from altitudes up to 15,500 feet.

Chris Whitlock RidingAfter 15 years competing in the sport I was asked to coach a number of other skydiving teams and achieved various qualifications as a coach in both advanced free-fall and sport skydiving.

Whilst I was skydiving I also raced formula 1 sidecars as the passenger and we won many events in both national and local races. This also required a high level of fitness.

I eventually decided to ‘calm down’ my life when my children were born (two boys) and started playing squash and occasional running. I found myself enjoying running so much that I decided to enter a 10K road race. I eventually got the ‘running bug’ and joined Wesham AC, competing in many road and fell races.

I wanted to put something back into the sport of running, as both my children were coached at our local athletic club (Preston Harriers), so I decided to take my English Athletics coaching qualifications in middle distance, endurance, fell and mountain running. I now regularly coach running groups at my local running club.

Three years ago I required an operation on the medial meniscus in my right knee (a wear and tear sports injury). I completed my rehab and returned to running, but ever since then I have had numerous injuries. I decided to buy a road bike and entered a few sportive cycling events, which I enjoyed immensely and found that I was stronger on a bike than on my feet.

I still ran three times a week – but my pace was much slower – and I required longer recovery between sessions. I found cycling did not seem to aggravate any of my injuries. I could manage regular 100 mile rides and actually walk down my stairs in the morning after a long ride (unlike a long run, which had me crawling down the stairs the next day)!

However, eight months ago I developed tendonitis in both Achilles tendons and the running slowly stopped, due to the intense pain caused by the impact of running. A few of the local guys at the running club had purchased ElliptiGOs and asked me if I wanted to complete the Manchester to Blackpool ride (which is 60 miles long) on an ElliptiGO. My friend Kevin let me borrow his spare ElliptiGO for the ride and we all completed it comfortably.

I enjoyed riding the ElliptiGO because it seemed to simulate running, but without the pain. That same week I decided to buy an 8-speed ElliptiGO 8C from ElliptiGO Preston. I have been GOing out four times a week and have developed a weekly training plan that involves hill reps, sprints, a longer distance session – and also a recovery ride.

I feel that the ElliptiGO has improved my core strength and my endurance on the hill climbs. After getting the ElliptiGO I hadn’t been out on my road bike for three months and was asked by my cycling friends to join them for a 70 mile ride (with about 3,250 feet of climbing) on our road bikes. The guys regularly ride and they also run 3-5 times a week, because they sometimes complete in Ironman triathlon events.

Chris Whitlock2The last time I went for a ride with them on my road bike (before I bought my ElliptiGO) they ‘dropped’ me on every hill climb and I found myself struggling to keep up with them. But when I accompanied them on this latest ride after 3 months of only ElliptiGO training I felt very strong on my road bike, although I had not ridden it for months.

On every hill climb I ‘dropped’ them – and I had never felt stronger on hill climbs than I did in that ride. The guys couldn’t believe that I had not been training on my road bike for so long. I surprised even myself with how much fitter and faster on the hills I had become on my road bike.

Whilst I have had my Achilles’ problems I have still been able to train on my ElliptiGO and my therapist has monitored the effects that training with these injuries would have on my rehab. He came to the conclusion that the ElliptiGO had no ill-effects on my recovery.

I have slowly started running again – and using the ElliptiGO for the recovery days between running sessions. With winter and the early dark nights approaching I will continue to run three times a week and have a long ElliptiGO ride (with hills) at the weekends. I strongly feel that including hills in your ElliptiGO rides will give you the biggest gains in general fitness.”

Chris Whitlock has recently taken on his biggest ever sporting challenge – by joining the ElliptiGO Ultra-Endurance Team which is training to take on the 1,200km Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP 2015) Cycling Challenge on ElliptiGO bikes, in under 90 hours. Good luck Chris!!!

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