Thursday, January 24, 2013

T-minus 17 days till race day, and counting - Integrating the treadmill into your workout regime

With the cold snap all of Canada's been having lately, I already knew my workout tonight would be inside. The question was, whether I would hit another Body Pump class (ouch!) or the treadmill?

Given that I haven't run since Sunday (Tuesday was Body Pump, and yesterday was nothing, since my hubby and my work schedules were packed - see how life can get in the way?), I felt like I had to hit the treadmill for a good, solid run. So at least I could say that I'd run this week.

I dreaded the dreadmill. I mean, come on: 50 minutes on the treadmill? It's an exercise in trying to distract yourself.

But I dreaded the cold more. So tonight, while gritting my teeth, I drove to the gym, changed, plugged in my earbuds and started to run, while my eyes scanned from one TV monitor to the next - trying to settle on something that would distract me and make the run seem less dreadmilly.

To be honest, part of the dread in the dreadmill is obviously the visual monotony - there's just nothing there to capture your attention for the duration of the run. At least, nothing compared to getting outside and seeing the sights and sounds of a city in motion.

But running on a treadmill, with the same consistent pace and incline, is also nothing like running through a terrain with real inclines, declines and all of the challenges built in between.

At the end of my 50-minute workout, I'm sure it was apparent to all those around me that I had had a workout, from the volume of unladylike perspiration beading off my skin. But secretly I have to admit that I still felt like running on a treadmill was not quite the serious workout that running outside would have been.

Hey - it's been cold out there! And for those days when it's just too cold outside to run safely and warmly (last week it took me a good two hours to warm up after my 8k run), the treadmill has its place.

There are however many running professionals who swear by the treadmill - because it's consistent and you can control the conditions.

There are also many ways to mix up a treadmill workout so that it's not only interesting, but physically challenging. When I used to do a lot more treadill running, I used to do this bump training workout (can't remember for the life of me where I found it):

- 4-minute warmup - jog slowly
- 1 minute at 60-80% effort
- 30 seconds at 90-95% effort
- 1 minute at 60-80%
- Then, keep increasing the time at 90-95% effort (1 minute, 1:30, 2, 2:30, 3) between each speed burst, recover for 1 minute at 60-80
- once you reach the peak time (let's say 3 minutes), start working backwards (2:30, 2, 1:30, 1) until you reach 30 seconds
- cool down for 4 minutes

Marathon Nation has some great tips for running on the treadmill >

Runner's World has a few treadmill workouts for you to get the most out of your workout > >

At the end of the day, the treadmill has its place in a running regime. But make sure to mix it up, to keep it interesting and keep yourself challenged.

Soon enough, it will be spring again - and we'll marvel at the dust accumulating on the treadmill while the crocuses bloom outside!

Keep it real, fellow runners! Warmer days will be here soon!


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