Login | August 12, 2020

Newbie treadmill workouts

Pete’s World

Published: January 6, 2020

If you’ re relatively new to the sport of running, then you could very well encounter a conundrum this winter when side streets, sidewalks, trails and high school tracks suddenly get covered with snow and ice.
Do you run against traffic on slush-clogged main thoroughfares? Do you find a good indoor track? Do you switch to a different aerobic activity or do you take a crack at treadmill running?
Now over the past few decades there was many a winter’s day when I chose to forego that slippery and sloppy outdoor winter road run for one of those non-outdoor running options. And each of those options provided me with a much more palatable alternative to the hazards of running on slush-choked primary roadways.
With that being said, it’s the treadmill option I’d like to address today.
Now I can definitely say I’m not in love with treadmill running. And even during those times when I was all in, I usually had to psych myself up each and every occasion I climbed aboard one. In the end though I always persevered and I had a pretty darned good workout to boot.
So for all you running newbies, let’s take a look at what you’ll want to consider if you choose to use the treadmill as a non-outdoor running option this winter.
First, understand that it’s quite common to experience a wobbly and slightly off-balanced feeling when you do your initial treadmill sessions. But rest assured that you’ll make the necessary neurological connections between mind and body (muscles) such that you’ll gradually adjust to these new movement patterns.
And all that movement pattern stuff means you have to think of treadmill running somewhat differently than you think of land running.
On a treadmill, the running surface is moving, which most definitely alters one’s typical forward-falling foot strikes.
So the trick with treadmill running is trying to mimic your normal outside running style, all the while maintaining good form - stride length, arm carry and forward lean.
It’s a full-body effort and that kind of physical concentration can be quite hard during your initial treadmill runs.
Many treadmill first-timers end up over-striding in an effort to keep up with the always moving belt beneath them.
An easy way to fix this over-striding issue is to simply increase your cadence (turnover). That faster cadence will shorten your stride and get you more in synch with maintaining the same running form you generate outdoors.
And understand that your treadmill efforts are initially going to feel slightly harder than those same efforts outdoors. For instance, a treadmill effort at say an 8-minute mile pace is probably going to feel more like a 7- to 7:30-minute outdoor effort. So don’t get bummed that you aren’t feeling as fleet footed on the treadmill as you feel outside.
That’s a good reason why it’s super important to make sure you do a gradual warm-up in running speed on the treadmill prior to settling into your target minute/mile pace.
This will allow your muscles and mind to adjust to the motion and movement of the treadmill before you hit workout speed - game speed so to speak.
And know that the more volume/time you spend on the treadmill, the more the warm-up and the game speed efforts will begin to feel as comfortable as those same minute/mile efforts outside.
Okay, so once you’ve tackled the movement aspects of the TM, you’re faced with what I consider my nemesis of treadmill running - the boredom factor.
Now I don’t know many runners who actually relish the thought of hopping on a treadmill, which is primarily because it can be so devilishly monotonous. That’s why you have to shake things up with your treadmill workouts.
A key to staying motivated and tuned into your treadmill running is by creating variety, and variety can be accomplished with specific types of running workouts - long/steady-state workouts, tempo workouts, threshold workouts, and a wide array of hill and short interval workouts.
Keep those treadmill workouts fresh and invigorating.
So if you decide to use the treadmill as one of those non-outdoor running option this winter, know there’s a learning curve that comes with it. Treadmill running demands patience, acclimation, and variation.
Good luck…and don’t fall behind that belt.