Staying sane on the treadmill

December 28, 2011

With winter well on it’s way….. they promised us snow this morning but so far grass is green…… there are times when outdoor running just isn’t safe or practical and we are delegated to the treadmill. About a year ago we invested in a treadmill and I have to say… it’s one of the best purchases we have ever made. There are mornings around here when time is of the essence and sliding on the snowshoes or the skiis isn’t practical. While we live in an area where we bike from the doorstep there are great big plows at early o’clock and that can be dangerous.

So there are times….. when to the treadmill it is!

Nothing is a run killer more than setting the treadmill at XX speed for YY minutes even with the best playlist on earth. Here are a few treadmill tips to keep things interesting and fun while covering miles and not moving an inch!

Playlists: Except for on the treadmill and the computrainer I don’t run or bike with music. Inside I do as it serves me with inspiration. There is nothing like a good beat to match cadence and some good lyrics to inspire. Here is one of my latest running mixes:

Make it interesting:  Here are a few workouts from Runner’s World that are sure to challenge:

  • The Speed Demon.

 Run easily for 10 minutes, then set the treadmill at a speed about 20 seconds per mile faster than your best recent 5-K pace. Run three 3-minute repeats at this speed, alternating with 3 minutes of very slow jogging. After completing a set of three repeats and recovery jogs, rest for 5 minutes by jogging. Then run a second set of three repeats and recovery jogs. When finished, run easily for 5 minutes to cool down.

  •  The Progression.

Begin with a 10-minute warmup, and then set your treadmill at a speed about 15 seconds per mile faster than your best recent 5-K pace (this new pace becomes your 5-K goal pace). For your first treadmill workout at this pace, run continuously for 5 minutes. Finish the workout with 10 to 20 minutes of easy cool-down running. For each of the next 10 weeks, run the same workout but increase the time you spend at your goal pace by 1 minute per week. At the end of 10 weeks, you should be able to run a 5-K race at your goal pace.

  •  Indoor Hills.

Warm up for 10 minutes, then set the treadmill at your approximate marathon pace. (If you’ve never run a marathon, estimate your marathon time by multiplying your typical 10-K time by 4.65.) With the treadmill elevated 1 degree, run for 2 minutes at marathon pace, then elevate the incline to 2 degrees and run for 2 minutes. Next return to 1 degree for 2 minutes, but then climb to 3 degrees for 2 minutes.
Continue in this manner, raising the grade on every other 2-minute repeat until you’ve reached 7 degrees (the inclination pattern is 1-2-1-3-1-4-1-5-1-6-1-7). If you feel exhausted before you reach 7 degrees, stop, and don’t let it worry you. Try the workout several more times and you’ll develop the ability to handle the hills. Finish the workout by running an easy 8- to 10-minute cooldown.

  •  The Broderick Crawford.

This workout gets its name from its “10-4” pattern, a familiar phrase to fans of the old Highway Patrol TV series. Begin by warming up for 10 minutes, then run for 10 minutes at your current 10-K race pace. Jog very easily for 4 minutes to recover, then surge again for 10 minutes at your 10-K tempo. Recover for 4 minutes, and complete the workout with 10 minutes of easy cool-down running.

Because I am personally in my base phase and not hitting speedwork quite yet I will modify these sets to allow me to stick to my heart rate zones. So my pace for The Speed Demon isn’t exactly what the set says, but these sets provide a good outline and structure to work within. When I have 90 minutes on the treadmill I will do all four of these in combination.

Always use a bit of caution: Treadmill running is a bit different from road running in that on the mill the ground pulls from under you, on land you work to propel yourself over it. Try not to run on the mill 7 days a week if possible to avoid that muscle imbalance, and work with your coach or mentor for ways to adjust for it. Another tip I have always followed was to set the mill at a 1:5 incline to try to adjust for the lack of wind resistance. On the mill we also lose the changing ground…. there is no camber, slopes, that kind of thing. I believe these outdoor situations make us better runners because they challenge us on different planes and angles and help our feet stay healthy. So just be aware of that!

I am the first person to admit that running on the mill is not my favorite hobby. I am an outdoor girl. I love the seasons, I love the dark the sunlight, I love the fresh air. But there are times when it’s just what has to happen. I am glad we made the investment. It’s paid off, that’s for sure!






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