Take the Dread out of Dreadmill
Posted by Tia Patel | Nov-26-2020
Shorter days, colder temperatures and rain are often less than ideal for runners and cyclists, forcing us indoors and leading us to adapt our training schedules to accommodate our essential cardio sessions.
The thought of running or walking on the treadmill often fills us with dread! Working out whilst staring at the same spot on the wall isn’t great motivation. But it's this movement which allows us to maintain fitness and pick up where we left off, outside when the weather gets better. We’ve got 7 benefits of running on the treadmill and 9 ways you can beat the boredom of treadmill running to get you through a winter of indoor training.
Benefits of running on the treadmill
1. Prevent injury - Running on concrete and asphalt everyday can place stress on the connective tissues in your legs. Treadmills, on the other hand, have a padded surface that decreases impact and protects you from injury. Treadmills also reduce the risk of tripping because they have a predictable surface, unlike the curbs, pavements, and trails you encounter outside.
2. Add variety to your workout routine - Treadmills can be used for running, walking, or jogging. If the terrain is mostly flat where you live, you can simulate uphill and downhill running by adjusting the incline on your treadmill. Running on hills is one of the best ways to burn calories, improve your endurance, and build your strength. If you live in a hilly area and don’t want to run on hills for whatever reason, you can run at zero incline on your treadmill to avoid the extra strain.
3. Customise your workout - Whether you want to lose weight or you’re training for a marathon, running on a treadmill can help you reach your fitness goals. Treadmills allow you to create a workout based on the amount of time you have to exercise giving you complete control by enabling you to adjust the speed, incline, warm-up period, cool-down period, and amount of energy you expend.
Interval training workouts, which alternate short, high-intensity bursts of speed with slow recovery periods, are a lot easier to do on treadmills because you can run precise distances at a set speed. Additionally, having a treadmill is helpful if you need to train for an event or maintain a specific pace when you’re lacking motivation.
4. Track your heart rate - Heart rate is the number of heartbeats per unit of time, typically expressed as beats per minute (BPM). You must maintain your heart rate at the proper intensity level for an extended period if you want your heart and lungs to receive the most benefit from your workout. If your heart rate gets too low, you won’t obtain the maximum benefit. Alternatively, you can put your health in danger by letting your heart rate get too high.
Treadmills make it easier for you to monitor your heart rate with built-in heart rate monitoring systems that enable you to track your progress and stay within your zone of choice.
5. Run no matter what the weather - Imagine being in your cozy, warm house and looking out the window. The wind is strong and cold, and the pavements are icy. Would you still lace up your running shoes and go for your daily run? More likely than not, you’ll opt to stay home and sit in front of the fireplace rather than risk injury and illness by braving the adverse weather. Having a treadmill allows you to keep up with your exercise regime, no matter how bad the weather is outside. The cold weather isn’t all that runners have to be wary of – running in hot weather also poses dangers, such as dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.
6. Recovery from hard and fast runs - Competitive runners typically like to push themselves every time they go running, but doing so everyday isn’t advisable because the muscles need time to rest and recover. By alternating your hard and fast runs with easy treadmill runs, you can give your body the break it needs, so you’re able to complete your harder runs at an optimal pace and quality.
7. Alleviate boredom from road racing - Running on a treadmill for a few hours can get boring, but so can running outside. The difference is that when you run on a treadmill, you can listen to music, watch TV or movies, or read a book or magazine to entertain your mind.
Avoid injury on the treadmill
Many of us take to the treadmill thinking we’ll go the winter months injury free! But in fact running on a treadmill can still cause injury. The most common treadmill injuries come from having a treadmill too fast for your fitness level. This leads to a poor form and pain in the shin, achilles and IT band.
The second most common injury is overstriding to keep up with a moving belt. If your stride rate, the number of steps you take per minute, is much slower on the treadmill than it is outside, it's a sign that you're struggling on the belt. Match your treadmill stride rate to the stride rate you have on the road to reduce the risk of injury from overstretching muscles and ligaments.
The final most common injury is repeatedly running on your treadmill at the same incline and speed. Things you'd encounter in an outdoor environment, hills, rocks, sidewalk cracks, force your body to shift and make adjustments. These changes to your movement patterns help balance out the workload, preventing certain muscles and joints from getting overtrained. Running on autopilot with no incline day after day repetitively works your body in the same way putting constant pressure on the same joints which is likely to lead to injury!
Beat the boredom of treadmill running
1. Listen to music - Studies have found that runners are able to perform better when listening to music, especially when the cadence is high enough to match your step rate. Music has a great effect on our mental state. Not only do we feel better when listening to music as we cannot hear how hard we are breathing, or think about how bad we feel, but it also makes it a little more fun as you are able to listen to music you enjoy.
2. Add “hills” and inclines to make it more challenging - By adding in random bouts of incline between 1-4% gradient, you are closer to simulating being outside, and can focus on just “making it up” each hill, rather than thinking you have 40 minutes left.
This way, when you put the gradient back to flat, it will feel downhill, even if you are not running downhill! These varying changes in incline will also make the time pass quicker as you overcome each hill.
3. Workout with a friend - One of the great things about running on a treadmill is that you can have a friend join you on the treadmill next to you, no matter what their speed or level. You can each run at your own pace, without either of you running too fast on your easy day or sabotaging your long run.
4. Get Zwifting - with gyms closed sign up to a zwift membership and virtually train by running and cycling. Smash your goals and compete with others around the world. With structured workouts and social group rides.
5. Listen to a podcast or audiobook - You will become so enthralled in your story or podcast that the time will pass by quickly. Your next time on the treadmill is also an opportunity to continue the podcast series or book providing further motivation to hit the dreadmill.
6.. Simulate your race - Planning to run a specific race? Use your treadmill to map out the route incorporating uphill and downhill sections so simulate the real life event and prepare for race day.
7. Visualise your race - While you are using the simulation of those ups and downs, imagine yourself attacking those hills on the race course, and see yourself make it up and over, feeling strong. When it comes to race day, your mind will remember how you handled it in practice, and will feel more confident as you travel the course, you will also be able to remember that you handled this in a hot sweaty room a few months back, so surely you can do it with beautiful scenery changing all around?
8. Fartlek on the treadmill - Incorporate changing speed intervals to your treadmill routine can help the time fly by and gives you something to focus on whilst working. Running at a set speed for a certain amount of time will also work your level of fitness and aerobic capacity.
9.. Cover the screen - When you are on the treadmill, it becomes way too easy to just stare at the timer, watching each second pass agonizingly slow. If you cover the monitor, and look ahead, it can reduce the urge to keep looking. Cover the screen with a towel (which can double as a sweat rag!), and your run will go by much faster!