Monday, January 24, 2011

Making the Most of the "Dreadmill"

Although summer running is challenging because of the oppressive heat and humidity, we often long for those days as we throw on layer after layer and use hand warmers to run in temps that are only balmy for those living in Alaska. Let's face it; winter running is tough, even for the heartiest of runners, but when dressed appropriately, outdoor winter running is possible and can even be enjoyable.

Inevitably, though, every winter there are bound to be a few days where running outside is just not practical- or safe. Last Tuesday was a perfect example: ice storms and running outside do not mix. The risk of falling during an icy run far outweighs any benefit to running outdoors, and that's when the treadmill becomes a welcome alternative. If the thought of running like a hamster for a few miles at your local gym makes you want to crawl back into bed, we have a few workouts to throw into your treadmill running routine that will help relieve some of your boredom--some good trash TV helps, too!

1. Hill Run Workout: (40 minutes total): (1) slowly run for 10 minutes to warm up at a 1.0 incline; (2) run a steady pace for 2 minutes at any incline higher than 1.0 that challenges you to feel/breathe like you are pushing up a hill; (3) recover at an easy pace for 1 minute at 1.0 incline. (4) Continue alternating 2 minutes hill/1 minute recovery until you reach 30 minutes (5) Slowly run for 10 minutes to cool down.

2. Cardio Interval Workout: (30 minutes total): (1) slowly run for 10 minutes at an easy pace (should be able to talk while running); (2) run for 30 seconds at a fast pace/high intensity; (3) recover at an easy pace (or walk) for 30 seconds; (4) repeat high intensity/low intensity for 10 minutes total (can be increased to 15 or 20 minutes for non-beginners); (5) slowly run for 10 minutes to cool down.

3. Stride workout: (1) run at an easy pace (should be able to talk while running) for a few miles; (2) during the last mile of your run, accelerate your pace to almost your maximum effort for 20 seconds (this is called a stride); (3) run slowly to recover and lower your heart rate; (4) repeat each stride/recovery 3 more times (5) run at an easy pace for a few minutes to cool down.

Remember that running on a treadmill is different than running outside- the lack of wind resistance, assistance of a moving belt, and the flat, smooth predictable surface of the treadmill work together to impact the level of effort required at a particular pace as compared to running outside. We’ve found this treadmill pace conversion chart to be a helpful tool to estimate equivalent efforts between running on a treadmill at different paces and inclines and running outdoors on a level surface.

Just think--in just a few months, the weather will turn milder, the treadmill will accumulate dust, and we can all start complaining about challenges of running in the heat and humidity again.

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