3 Ways To Love The Treadmill This Winter
Like most reasonable people, I much prefer running outside to the mind numbing experience of running on the treadmill. After all, it’s dubbed the “Dreadmill” for a reason! I live in Chicago and am – what I think – [email protected]$$ enough to run through the winter (yes, if you have the right gear it’s truly not that bad!) Yet, there are still reasons like ice, sleet, and total darkness that lead me to the treadmill at my gym more often than I’d like.
If you happen to be bound to the treadmill this winter, you don’t have to dread it. The treadmill can be a powerful tool to not only maintain, but build your fitness during the frigid months.
With these 3 concepts, the treadmill may just be your new BFF!
Forget steady state running when you’re on Mr. T. While a steady easy run can be a zen therapy session outdoors, when taken inside it quickly becomes unbearable. How much longer until I reach 2 miles? How long have I been running? Has it been 20 minutes yet? I don’t know about you, but I think about the time SO much more often when I’m on the treadmill. With short intervals, you’ll be focused on small increments of time, making your workout feel shorter in the end.
Speed workouts aren’t only for the speedy runner, although they will certainly help you increase your pace. Running faster doesn’t only mean sprinting all out. Exploring your other gears beyond conversation pace, but more conservative than your 5K race pace, could mean a 0.2 increase for 60 seconds before returning to your base pace. Anything that pushes you a little more for a little time is a speed interval, so have fun testing out what different paces feel like and how long you can hold them! The key to creating a speed workout that flies by, is changing something about the interval (time or speed) each hard effort interval.
A few ideas on how to structure a speed interval workout:
Speed ladder – Start with your base speed and increase by 0.5 for 30 seconds to a few minutes, returning to your base speed until you recover (usually half or equal the speed interval time). For each following interval, increase the speed until you reach your personal max speed, then work your way back down the ladder. Here is what that could look like for your speed: 6 – 6.5 – 6.0 – 7 – 6 – 7.5 – 6 – 8 – 6 – 7.5 – 6 – 7 – 6 – 6.5 – 6.
Progressive Blocks – Start with 5 minutes at your base speed, increase by 0.5 for 5 minutes, increase again by 0.5 for 5 minutes, then repeat 2-3 more times. This looks like: 6.5-7-7.5-6.5-7-7.5-6.5-7-7.5.
Distance Intervals – Start with at least a half mile at your base speed. Pick one hard effort speed that you will use for each hard effort interval. For your first hard effort interval do .25 mile, then recover at your base speed for the same distance. The next hard effort interval will be .5 miles, followed by a .5 mile recovery interval. Do they same for .75 miles and top out at 1 mile with a 1 mile recovery. You only have 2 speeds for this workout; the recovery/base speed and the hard effort interval speed.
Many people – even those who have been running for years – neglect a powerful training tool that’s on every treadmill: Incline. Hill running is just speed work in disguise, but if you live in a flat city like I do, or are bound to a treadmill, the incline feature will open up a slew of challenges that make you stronger and faster! Running outside and running on the treadmill is the same in terms of speed options, but finding a hill that is a certain distance and incline is much harder. With the treadmill, you can pick you incline and stay at that grade for how ever long you like (or, can!).
You can take the speed work interval workouts and replace the speed increase with an incline increase. Make 0% your base interval and keep the speed the same, increase the incline for your hard effort intervals, and recover back at 0%. Keep in mind that your base speed may be easy at 0%, but will seem nearly impossible once you pass say 6%!
You can also get creative and change both speed and incline. The combinations are practically endless meaning you can do a 45 minute workout and have no interval the same! Need ideas? I completed the entire 9-weeks of David Siik’s Ultimate Treadmill Workout and PR’d in my 5K this spring!
Treadmill Combination Workouts
Whether you use the treadmill at a fully equipped gym, or huff away on your own treadmill tucked away in your basement, combining strengthening exercises with treadmill intervals is the perfect way to get a well-rounded full body workout in, while still racking up the winter miles.
The basic idea is to alternate treadmill intervals (whether time or distance based) with strength training exercises. For example, you may do 12 pushups, run .25 mile, 15 squats, run .25 mile, 10 single arm back rows, .25 mile. There are so many ways to structure these kinds of workouts, but any way you cut it, they’re hard but fun!
You can use your running interval to sprint, or more of a slow recovery from a tough exercise like burpees. You can focus on 1 exercise like 5 push-ups, 2 minute run, 10 push-ups, 3 minute run, 15 push-ups, 4 minute run, or do a different exercise for a different muscle group for every interval, never hitting the same exercise twice.
When you’re at home, you may not have weights, but you can still perform a treadmill combination workout by using bodyweight exercises like planks, squat jumps, push-ups, tricep dips, and lunges. For a [email protected]$$ program, check out Jill Coleman’s #treadLIFT workout here!
Do you use the treadmill in the winter months?
What are your favorite treadmill workouts?