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Training & advice

Charlotte Browning - Coming back from injury

Charlotte Brownin is a middle-distance runner who is currently training in appropriately named Charlottesville, VA (in the USA).  Idai Makaya, from ElliptiGO interviewed Charlotte to get a better insight into how she trains and how she is coming back from a difficult injury.

How old are you?

I'm 26 

When did you start running?

When I was 10 or 11. Shortly after I started I joined Aldershot, Farnham and District AC and I was coached by Mick Woods until I was 16. 

What other sports have you done - if any?

I was a swimmer prior to being a runner, but as I started to excel at running I was committing myself to too much by doing both sports, so I mainly competed in running from about 13 years old. I also played netball and hockey for my school. 

What is a typical training week like for you?

I train in Charlottesville, VA and a lot of my training is with the University of Virginia College team. Therefore I am on an early morning and afternoon schedule, as follows:
Am: Morning run/ElliptiGO ride at home
Pm: track workout followed by weights 

Am: morning ElliptiGO ride at home
Pm: group run, yoga, general strength

Pm: 75 min run

Am: morning ElliptiGO ride (40 mins)
Pm: track workout

20 min run
40 min underwater treadmill. 

12-14 miles run

50 min ElliptiGO ride at home. 

What are your best sporting achievements?

As a teenager I was multiple national champion over track and cross country. Through college I won multiple SEC titles over 1500m/mile and 3km. I won the NCAA championship indoors in the mile and outdoors in the 1500m. I was All-American in the NCAA cross country championships (6km). I was 4th at European Cross Country championships and Team GB won Team Gold.

I had an ankle reconstruction and did not recover well - so between 2011-2013 was a struggle...

This year indoors I opened with 4:33 in the mile, in a very rapid first half with the Nike Oregon project girls. That may have been one of my most satisfying accomplishments, even if it only meant something personally to me. I have a lot more to accomplish this outdoor season, which is the main focus of the year.

Please explain your injury history in brief, throughout your career.

Through college I had an injury called Haglunds Dyformity in my ankle. Even though I had success through college I wasn't able to train more than 5 times a week. On a Friday I would use the stationary bike and on Sundays I would take a day off. The injury caused severe pain in my lower leg area, on and off the track.

Luckily I had great support and trainers to get me out there on the track to race. I was still running well and signed with New Balance after college. Unfortunately, I was unable to train at the level where I needed to be and decided that to be able to compete with the best I would get my foot issue fixed and decided to get the surgery.

The lay-off was long 5-7 months and I was back at home in England and unable to access the proper rehab I needed. It was a long time out and I struggled to come back from what ended up being a full 7 months of not running at all. Starting from scratch was tough. I ended up not being patient enough coming back and picked up multiple niggles and injuries along the way. Mentally it was extremely difficult.

I was training in a professional group at this point, which made the workouts challenging and I was unable to cope with them. Progression was good to start with and then I started to plateau and kept picking up soft tissue injuries from a leg imbalance. I thought this was the end of the road for me in my running career. 

I decided to give it one last shot in the summer of 2012 and rejoined my college coach Todd Morgan. This is also the summer when I met Idai from The ElliptiGO Project (and started using the ElliptiGO to cross-train). Everything started improving. I clocked my 2nd fastest mile of all time in my first race of the indoor season and I have been injury-free (touch wood) since 2012.

I am on the right track and positive and motivated about the future.

How exactly do you use the ElliptiGO as part of your running training?

I listen to my body firstly. On a week where I seem to be recovering well and doing OK I use the ElliptiGO in place of an easier run. I currently have it on a stationary trainer on my porch (it's a tough, snowy winter!). I can work hard on the bike without the impact, so I get more out of it than a recovery run that I would do as more of a shuffle. If my body is telling me to chill out I will switch my main run for a workout/ride on the ElliptiGO. 

The ElliptiGO has been of great help to me this winter as we have had such freak/awful snow. Some of the trails and roads I usually run on haven't been clear for days but I was able to do my workouts on the ElliptiGO and didn't have to sacrifice my training due to weather conditions. 

What do you do to remain motivated with your athletics training?

I just think about my successes I have had in the past and know that I am meant to be here, doing this. Seeing good friends and peers in the sport (that I ran against throughout college) making World Championship finals is a big motivator. I am happy for them and see it as a positive thing - and just think "Keep going, you are capable of all of that as well." I have had a lot of downtime the last few years, but to be back feeling at my fittest in training is a big motivator in itself. 

What do you do for fun?

I love art and design, I especially love interior design. I like to play tennis (I'm not the best, but it's fun).  I love exploring new cities and coffee shops. Vintage shopping and upturning furniture are also fun. 

What are your future career goals?

In running my goal is to make the Commonwealth Games Team for England this summer. In the1500m or 5km. 

The goal for the next 2 years is to make a major championship final. This has always been my goal since the start - and in my eyes has never changed. 

Rio 2016 is the main goal. Everything I am doing now has Rio in mind - and each day is just a step to the next Olympics.

After running I would like to work in merchandising for a sports fashion brand.