From the August 2012 issue of Runner’s World
Survive winter treadmill running by doing interval, hill and tempo workouts
By Laurel Leicht
When it comes to icy temps, even the toughest runners head for the ’mills. But running inside doesn’t have to compromise your workout – you can still accomplish the purpose of your run with a few tweaks. First off, be aware that your form changes on a treadmill, says Matt Barbosa, coach for Endurance Sports and Fleet Feet. The confined area alters your proprioception, or the sense of your body in space. You tense up, shorten your stride, and react to the belt’s movement by picking up and putting down your feet rather than pushing off as you would outdoors. To encourage proper push-off and compensate for the lack of wind resistance, raise the incline to two or three percent and lean slightly forward from the ankles, says Barbosa. With that as your starting point, here’s how to translate your regular workouts to the great indoors.
Since most (read: affordable) treadmills don’t come with a decline setting, mimicking the stress of running downhill requires an additional move or two off the treadmill. Like downhill running, both lunges and squats cause the tissue damage that ultimately creates stronger quad muscles, says Carwyn Sharp, Ph.D., assistant professor of exercise science and nutrition at the College of Charleston.
Take It Inside
Warm up for two- to four-kilometres, then raise the incline to three or four per cent and run for two minutes at 15 seconds slower than your 10K pace (or a pace that feels moderately hard). Raise the machine’s incline to four to six per cent for two minutes, then six to 10 per cent for two minutes. Run at two per cent for two minutes. Repeat the sequence two to six times, increasing your speed by five to 10 seconds each time. Immediately after your run, do two to four sets of 10 to 15 lunges (per leg) and squats.
“Unless you have a treadmill that allows for advanced programming of time, speed, and incline, it’s very difficult and even dangerous to try to change the speed for short intervals,” says Barbosa. Avoid repeats shorter than 30 seconds, he says, as a good chunk will be lost in the time it takes to accelerate and decelerate.
Take It Inside
Reduce the incline to zero. Warm up, then run at 5K pace (it should feel hard) for 45 seconds to two minutes, depending on your experience level. Easy running for up to a minute. Repeat four to eight times. Cool down. “To match the interval time exactly, add to the end of the repeat the amount of time it takes the treadmill to speed up,” says Rick Morris, author of Treadmill Training for Runners. So if it takes five seconds to get to speed, run that fast pace for five seconds longer. Ditto for rest intervals.
Outdoors, we tend to rely on visual cues – like the end of the track or road – to keep us going. But when you’re on a treadmill, “your mind can’t visualise the finish, so it becomes difficult to concentrate when the pace gets hard and you need to start pushing yourself,” says Melanie Schorr, M.D., a running coach at RunnersConnect. Most 'mills show your progress on a 400m digital track – use it to envision the end of your repeat, says Morris.
Take It Inside
Warm up for three to five kilometres, then run 400m (one lap) to 1600m (four laps) at 10K pace. For the final 200 to 400m of your effort, increase your speed by five to 10 seconds to practice finishing strong. Walk or jog for one minute to recover. Repeat two to eight times, depending on the distance and your fitness.
This workout is made for the treadmill. “You just dial in your goal pace, and the machine keeps you at that speed,” says Sharp. Plus, “you can make incremental changes, like picking up the pace by five or 10 seconds – it’s hard to make such small adjustments outside.”
Take It Inside
Starting the tempo run slow and then getting faster toward the end teaches your body how to run at different paces and finish fast – not just hang on. Warm up for two to four kilometres, then run 1.5km at 15 to 20 seconds slower than half-marathon pace (talking should take some effort). For the duration of the run, pick up the pace every kilometre by five to 15 seconds until you’re running the final kilometre 15 to 20 seconds faster than your half-marathon pace.
Going easy on a treadmill can be torture – here’s how to stay sane
The Workout: Easy Run
Survive It: Engage your brain: Mentally rehearse a presentation for work, repeat vocab words of a language you’re learning, or listen to a podcast. “Learning is boosted with the timing and rhythms of treadmill running,” says coach Matt Barbosa.
The Workout: Long Run
Survive It: Every three to five kilometres, raise the incline for one kilometre. Vary the height each time. “Adding changes in incline is a good way to mimic outside conditions – and save your muscles (and mind) a little bit,” says author Rick Morris.
Like this article? Subscribe to Runner’s World and save up to A$35 on the retail price (delivered directly to your door) and receive a FREE pair of Brooks socks PLUS if you subscribe for two years you will also receive a FREE Runner’s World watch.
If you missed picking this issue up at newsstands you can purchase your Runner's World back issue here today!