Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Treadmills. Enemies or Friends?




This blog is for all my run friends who have been whining about having to trade in their road runs for treadmill training due to bitter cold.  Let’s face it, we prefer road runs but when it comes to cold, it can be a harsh moment when we hit the first .25 mile. 

I know for me, that once it hits under 40 degrees, I’m going to hit the treadmill to stick to training.  Above 40, I bundle up in cold weather gear and hit the road and I love it.  Did you know that when you run into cold wind, it will freeze the tears that leak from your eyes onto your face?  Awesome!  And let’s mention, we burn more calories when we run in the cold (something scientific about warming up and body working harder). 

Do I look cold at my last half marathon of the year? 



So what do we do when it gets bitter cold (after all, I can’t even warm up with wool socks and sweaters on when I sit in front of a fire).  All I can say is,  dear friend, quit whining complaining.  You have options, my friends!! 

Option 1:  Bundle up in some awesome cold weather training gear (I love Nike or UnderArmour the best for this).  Don’t forget the ears, and the hands.  Cover them up as well.  Then blast playlist as loud as your little ears can handle it and go.  Suck it up and just run.  You’ll warm up eventually – even if it is when you get home and get in a hot, steamy shower or have a cup of replenishing hot green tea (caution, do not drink hot tea while in hot shower). 

Option 2:  Bag all training and focus solely on hibernating.  Eat what you want.  Become a sloth.  It is best to use this option if you are only prepared to have to hit training hard again in the Fall and work off all those excess pounds you’ve put on, not to mention having to build up to your current level of training.  This option just sucks. 

And then there is this option…

Option 3:  Treadmill.  Whether you belong to a gym or have to dust your personal home treadmill off – this is the best option for so many of us.  However, I keep hearing a lot of complaining and really just want to inform you all – ITS YOUR FRIEND!!!  After all, it helps you keep up with your mileage!!  How can it be an enemy?  OOOOOO – the boredom is what you are talking about?  Then change it up.

Most of the treadmill runs I do, do not resemble the previous treadmill run.  I change them constantly.  Here’s a few I love to do:

Hills and Dales:  Incline training at it’s best!  This is really great for those of us who tend to slow down when we hit the inclines on the road – running inclines on the treadmill don’t give you that option (unless you want to fall off the back of it).  You can create a whole routine of ups and downs, building new muscles, blasting extra fat (inclines burn fat, duh) and you’ll keep up your endurance!! 

My Hills & Dales look something like this:
            1 min w/u at 3% @ 6.5 mph
            .25 mile at 5% @ 7.0
            .25 mile at 8% @ 7.0
            .25 mile at 10% @ 7.0
            .25 mile at 5% @ 7.2
            .25 mile at 9% @ 7.2
            Etc. 

Walk/Run/Recover:  This is great for the day after a long run or Hills & Dales.  It sometimes looks like this:
            1 min w/u @3% @ 4.0 pace
            .50 mile @ 3% @ 7.0 pace
            .25 mile @ 15% @ 4.2 pace
            .50 mile @ 4% @ 7.2 pace
            . 25 mile @ 15% @ 4.2 pace

            It can also look like this: 
                        1 min w/u @ 3% @ 4.0
                        3 min @5% @ 7.5 pace
                        1 min @ 5% @ 4.2
                        3 min @5% @ 7.5 pace
                        1 min @ 5% @ 4.2
                        3 min @5% @ 7.5 pace
                        1 min @ 5% @ 4.2

                       
Long Run:  this is not for the faint of heart but it is great for a burn!!  The beauty of the treadmill allows you to control your pace and incline, right?  Therefore, before you hit it for the Long Run, decide on your goal.  How far?  How fast?  PR?  Then simply program the treadmill to meet that goal and get on.  Run, like the wind. 

Now Jillian Michaels (whom I adore) would yell at me (I know) because when I go for the Long Run (as well as Hills & Dales), I hang on to the treadmill.  Not because I’m lazy, but because it really helps me not fall off.  When I go on long runs, I close my eyes (a lot) and envision my last race.  Or my Perfect Pacer running in front of me.  With music blaring, eyes closed, I have always been able to get through a Long Run on the treadmill! 

In fact, the people in my gym, often refer to me as the “crazy closed eye incline runner”.  What do they call you?

Speed Intervals:  One of the best training tools we can have in our tool box is speed Intervals.  These are short, quick blasts of high speeds that will come in handy when we hit the road in the fall.  And using the treadmill, really can help you set that speed.  I find, in fact, that even during road run season, I fall back to the treadmill for my weekly speed training since I tend to cheat on the track. (you do too, you just don't admit it as readily as I do). 

Here’s how it works:  What is your speed that you are wanting to build up to?  Is it usually a certain mile/min.  By running at your usual race pace, you can speed up the treadmill for 1 – 2 minutes and really push yourself to get to that goal. 

Another great thing about speed intervals – it burns more fat!!  I wouldn’t lie about fat burning. 

And it’s awesome for the heart!

Hopefully those treadmill runs will help you embrace your friend, the little treadmill.  Try to look at it as just another tool to enhance your training – instead of a prison guard. 

Need more reasons to love your treadmill runs?  I have read studies about Holiday weight gain – they vary but they are both consistent in saying that this is the time when weight is gained.  Anywhere from 5 – 10 pounds. 

Let’s face it – we need the winter runs (no, SUAR, not the ones requiring porcelain recepticles).  For so many reasons:
  • o    we can be the few that WON’T gain those horrible pounds. 
  • o    we can enjoy a few treats without horrible guilt. 
  • o    We can battle the stress that all the Holidays seem to bring (and why is that, anyway?)
  • o    We are able to stay true to ourselves and be the best “we” that we’ve created
  • o    It gives us an escape (especially if you have to leave for the gym when those “ILs” are at the house) and retreat.


So I implore encourage you, embrace the treadmill as your friend.  Winter is the real enemy here. 

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