Oh November – The Dreadmill

Winter woes got you sitting on the couch?

The treadmill can give you a great option when the weather is frightful and your holiday schedule is on overdrive. On a treadmill the weather is controlled and there is no need to worry about slippery leaves, ice and the dark.

Things to keep in mind:

Most consider that the treadmill feels harder than comparable running outside. The treadmill is a great place to practice running by feel and not getting caught up with hitting a certain pace.

Instead of hopping onto the treadmill and expecting to hit a certain pace, be mindful that your body still needs a warm-up. Aim to walk for a bit before transitioning to running and then to a more typical pace. Easing into a run will help you complete the entire workout.

Be aware of your running form while running on the treadmill. If you are watching a tv, make sure it’s front and center so you don’t end up with a crick in your neck or worse an injury from falling off the treadmill. Relax your upper body and keep your cadence light and easy. Treadmill running provides a softer surface than outdoor running.  Athletes need to ensure that they maintain outdoor running  form on the treadmill as the rotating belt encourages different biomechanics.

Prepare to sweat.  Normal gym temperatures are much warmer than our usual outdoor temps. Think of this as a great way to maintain some heat tolerance! It’s a great opportunity to practice your hydration and fueling strategies. After the run, remember to rehydrate to replace those fluids you lost.

If you find that you are drawn more to the treadmill at this time of year, keep some strategies in mind if the majority of your runs are on a treadmill.

Treadmills will not deliver as much impact to muscles, tendons, bones and joints because of the softer surface. This might leave a runner a bit achy the first few times on the road. One way to prepare for the impact outdoors are to do some tempo paced efforts with the treadmill at a negative 2% to increase the pounding and get your legs more prepared for the stress on the road at race effort. And, add in strength training (you knew we were going there!). The stronger and more well balanced your muscular system in the better it will be able to handle the impact forces and surface changes of the road. Pay attention to your fatigue levels and slow down if you are getting too tired. The belt of the treadmill is moving at a constant pace and you may begin to overstride. Do not hold on to the sides of the treadmill.
Treadmills are flat so make sure at least one to two times a week to make your run involve some rolling hills. As it is a common school of thought to run at 1-2% incline to simulate the wind resistance of running outside and running at that constant incline can be mentally tough, you an address both of these issues by simply running rolling hills. Rolling hills will also help with the boredom and some of the over use injuries treadmill runners are susceptible to as you are recruiting slightly different muscles to run up and down hills.
Keep moving! Treadmills are a great way to maintain your fitness during the winter.
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