It is inevitable that some of your training runs in Feb. and March will be safer if done on a treadmill (also affectionately called dreadmill). I would like to share some recommendations from top runners and coaches as well as some of my own that can help to make the treadmill effective, safe and maybe more fun and more fulfilling.
Even though you are inside in a temperature controlled environment you still need to warm up. The blood vessels in your muscles (including your heart) need to dilate. You want to slowly bring your heart rate up. A 5 minute warm up is a common recommendation. If you will be running on treadmill a warm-up will be a walk, then a brisk walk and then a slow jog and then progress to you running speed. If your run is slow a jog, or run/walk combination give yourself 5 minutes to slowly work up to your jogging speed.
After the 5 min warm up walk your muscles have increased blood flow and you should feel warmer. This is a good time to stop the treadmill, hop off and do some dynamic stretching.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksNl4zEynMo Walking Straight leg kicks
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9vsPdnG3JQ Walking knee hugs
A big pet peeve of many personal trainers and coaches is seeing people hold onto the treadmill. Granted some people need to hold on for balance issues, that is not what I am talking about. I am talking about the people who increase the speed or incline so much they can not keep up unless they are holding themselves up with handles. Unloading yourself on the handles so you can do more speed or incline does not make you do more work, it just causes neck and shoulder issues. You are better off slowing down and bringing the incline down and just keeping up with the treadmill with good posture.
The incline myth
It has been recommended to run with 1 to 2% incline to mimic outdoor resistance. The thought being that this incline is just enough resistance to change your gait just slightly to make running on the treadmill more like running outside. The thought being that running on a TM with 0% incline means the TM is doing some of the work for you, with the 1 – 2% incline you have to work a little harder and requires your muscles to fire just a little bit different which is more like outdoor running.
However more recent research shows that this incline is not needed unless you are running at least an a 7:09 pace. Casey Kerrigan, a Harvard med school grad with a masters in physical rehabilitation, notes in her blog that the 1% rule is an oversimplification of a dated treadmill study.
Adding incline to mimic outdoor hills is a good both physically and mentally for you. When adding in hills don’t do it for more than 5 minutes and it’s not recommended to add a incline over 7% while running. Steep incline can put a lot of stress on your back and hips. There are not too many hills in the Let’s move but I promise the half marathoners will swear there is a HUGE hill at the end.
Make it Social
If you have been a solo runner I encourage you to try training with others. For one thing it’s a little safer if you are with a buddy. In addition to safety, running with others can be very rewarding.
People are often intimated to run with others because they don’t want to slow people down. Having a different pace should not be deterrent to run with others. Here are a few suggestions if you and a friend have different paces.
The faster person gets to use this run as a recovery run and get’s to talk the other person’s ear off. The person being talked to usually doesn’t mind because it’s a good distraction.
The slower person is responsible for keeping the faster person slowed down, which many times the faster person needs because they will naturally migrate to their “normal” pace.
Two different runners can also use the treadmill and run whatever pace they chose while keeping each other company.
Doing intervals on TM can actually be pretty enjoyable. I find doing intervals on TM more enjoyable than doing intervals outside thru the neighborhood. On the TM you can easily see your time and distance and know exactly when to start and more importantly when to stop and recover. My favorite intervals are a half mile intervals. Go out of your comfort zone, run a hard steady pace that you can maintain for a half mile. Then recover for as long as you need (you can walk if you need to) once recovered go back to an easy jog for the remaining half mile. Then repeat as many as you need to, in order to get your distance for that run.
Winter is the perfect time to hit the treadmill and work on your stride. Many of us overstride. To find out if you are overstriding we need to find out your cadence. Cadence is the number of strides you take each minute. To determine the number of strides you take a minute count how many times 1 foot hits the ground in a minute. The goal is to be at 90 or above. If you are less than 90 you may be overstraining. Some people find running in a non traditional running shoe, a more natural lower profile shoe makes it easier to correct stride.
We just need to get thru the next 6 weeks or so of some cold icy conditions that may push us onto the treadmill. Soon we will be faced with some of the best outdoor running conditions before it get too and too humid.