Although we all would love to be able to run outside every day throughout the year, let's be honest about where we live. Upstate New York has some pretty harsh weather at times and there are times when a treadmill run is unavoidable. So how do we keep motivated when they are forced to run on the ‘mill?
If you just set the treadmill at one pace and run for an hour staring at a wall, you’re not going to find what brings you joy. But there are ways to make your treadmill experience a little more interesting.
Vary the pace and incline
Use the treadmill for a hill session. When you use the treadmill you should always set the incline a little (about 1%-1.5%) to better replicate running outside. To make the time a little more interesting throw in a few steeper inclines throughout your run!
Have a Plan
Running on a treadmill with no real idea of what you’re going to do, you are likely to feel less motivated. Go on the treadmill with a clear plan of what you are going to do, whether that’s distance, duration, or intervals - have a plan.
Have some Entertainment
Don't run in silence. Listen to a podcast, watch some Netflix, or put on some bangin' a$$ music to fly to.
Hide your Screen
If you watch the clock tick away on your screen or the line going around the track, you’re in for a very boring workout. It will feel like time is standing still. Cover your screen with a towel and just don’t look!
Try virtual running (like Zwift)
If you’ve not tried Zwift yet, it could be just the thing you need to stay motivated on the treadmill. Connect your Strava or Garmin Connect account, and run in real-time with others around the world. You will need a treadmill and a footpod to connect to Zwift. Then you need a device (tablet or phone) to run Zwift on.
Here are some treadmill workouts to make the time fly by:
Have you ever gone to the derby and watched a race? You probably noticed that you did not see any horses stretching before the race. Horses, our puppies, and other animals do not stretch before or after they run. Now, at your last half marathon how many people did you see in the corral stretching? It seems to be something that only we humans do. When I first started running, our group would stretch before our runs and after our runs. It was portrayed to me that in order to prevent injuries and to improve the quality of my workouts, stretching should be performed before and after each run. But was that really
The great stretching controversy. Since elementary school gym class, most of us have stretched prior to any athletic activities. We were taught that it would prevent injuries, improve performance, and reduce muscle soreness. Depending on the type of activity and the type of injury we’re trying to prevent, it is true, yes, stretching may play a safety role. If the activity includes power or springing movements, stretching can reduce injuries by increasing the compliance of tendons and improving their ability to
absorb energy. However, for lower intensity activities (that don’t include bouncing) such as running, cycling, and swimming, stretching doesn’t prevent injuries as we do not need our tendons to be compliant for these activities.
Stretching before strength training may limit how much weight lifted by an athlete because stretching affects the ability of their muscles to contract effectively. Stretching has a minimal effect on how sore someone feels after their workout. The harder or longer someone exercises microscopic damage occurs to the muscle fibers. These microscopic tears are a normal part of training. In response to the muscle fiber damage, our bodies get inflamed as blood travels to the site of the damage, the blood bring white blood cells the area to begin healing process.
An important benefit of stretching is to increase a joint’s range of
motion. When the joint is flexible the muscles are able to move dynamically through their full ranges of motion, which is important for runners. Stretching to increase flexibility, done alone and not as part of your workout, will make your running more effective. Higher weekly mileage and your long run has the potential to shorten and tighten you muscles, implementing a stretching routine throughout the week can help keep your muscle primed for your long run - before, during, and after.
Several factors that influence our flexibility:
♦ Joint functionality: The type of joint will determine the range of motion.
♦ Age: With age, muscles can shorten from a decrease in physical activity and a loss in elasticity in the
connective tissues surrounding them.
♦ Sex: Females tend to be more flexible than males of similar age throughout life, mostly due to anatomical variations in joint structures.
♦ Exercise: Exercising on a regular basis generally increases flexibility. A more sedentary lifestyle decreases
♦ Temperature: An increase in either body temperature or environmental temperature increases range of motion. That’s why it’s better to stretch after a warm-up.
Tempo runs, long runs, intervals, hill repeats, and strength training - with the amount of workouts needed to propel your running it sometimes seems that in order to run well, you would have to leave your job and be a full time runner. Luckily, there is a simple plan you can follow to maintain your training and run well - you just need to "periodize" your training.
Training Cycles, or "periodization", in your running is when we divide a training cycle with a specific goal in mind so you don’t do the same type of workouts all the time. Think of this like the "ebb and flow of hard work". Training cycles are often 12, 16, or 20 weeks phases. Periodization is the process of dividing your training into smaller periods of training where the emphasis, or the objective, of the training is altered during each period.
These cycles are broken up into high volume, easy running (base phase), low volume, hard running (preparation), race specific, fine tuning, taper phase, goal race (peak). These three phases are then followed by rest & recovery. Breaking your cycle into these phases allows you to combine the benefits of multiple workouts that collectively add up to peak conditioning. When variety is introduced into your training, you limit your chances of plateauing and/or becoming injured. Periodizaton is planning and the goal is to give you the best possible chance of peak performance at a certain time. You're always more successful when you plan.
What does each phase do for your running plan?
The Base Phase
Building a base develops endurance, the foundation of any distance-running plan. Investing in easy miles at a conversational effort will build a solid aerobic base. High volume of low intensity running and workouts.
Phase 1: BASE
This phase emphasizes easy miles. You are building a base by increasing miles and adding some speed and strength work.
Base Phase Workouts:
The Preparation Phase
This phase is a lower volume, higher intensity, short workouts. This phase also adds a layer of speed by introducing tempo runs and long repeats. When you implement these workouts into your training you are strengthen the ligaments, muscles, and connective tissues which prepares the body for the demands of faster running.
Phase 2: PREPARATION
Preparation means strengthening the body for the fast running to come. You continue to build endurance through long runs, but a few of your easy days become tempo miles or hill repeats.
Preparation Phase Workouts:
The Peak Phase
Race specific, fine tuning, taper phase. Hitting your peak is defined by short, fast workouts that simulate racing. These workouts fine-tune the speed you began in the preparation phase by further recruiting fast-twitch muscle fibers, improving running economy, and strengthening muscles and connective tissue.
To peak for key races, mark your race on a calendar to map out your base, preparation, and peak phases. Each phase should be four to eight weeks long (you can extend the base or preparation phase beyond eight weeks. Do NOT extend the peak phase, this will send you into fatigue and injury). Roughly every fourth week, recover your body by reducing your miles by 10% to 50% and ease up on strength training. After your peak/race, you work your way through another periodization - starting with the base phase.
Phase 3: PEAK
GOAL: speed. Gradually increase the intensity of your workouts and reduce the overall volume (miles/hours) by about 10%.
Peak Phase Workouts:
Endurance: The long run. Maintain your endurance by keeping your long runs slightly shorter than those in Phase 2, depending on your race goals.
Speedwork: Focus on short, fast repeats. You also have the option to run tune-up race that is shorter than your main event.
Strength: You can continue your strength training once a week, maintaining the same weights and reps or replace strength training with hill repeats one time instead. You also have the option of putting weight training off until after your race. Do what is best for your peak performance.
Firstly, why should a runner incorporate strength training?
Bodies that are strong, lack imbalances, and have stability do not break down as much. The output of power increases and the body is more resilient in its training. In general, runners who lift weights have better running form and are less prone to injury. Running is a limited and repetitive motion; but, most runners know that including cross-training, stability, and balance into your regimen will help to compliment the continuous use of the same muscle groups that's required for distance running.
Strength training can help to improve your running form and when you put more muscle on your bones it helps to dampen the effects of the forces put on your bones when you run. In order to build strength, you need to load the tissue enough to challenge the body and force it to adapt. If you are an athlete that often suffers from stress fractures, weight training can help you out.
There are a lot of runners whose strength regime often includes light weights with high reps; however, running already does a far better job at enhancing endurance than lifting weights. So having a routine that is endurance-based (low weight/high rep) does little to improve both your strength and your endurance.
So where to do we start? This all goes back to our first blog article about progressive overload. Progressive overload is a gradual increase in stress applied to the body during exercise. This should occur with small increases to the following factors; volume (length of training or weight), frequency (how often are you performing this training), and intensity (how hard your training). This challenges your body and allows your musculoskeletal system to get stronger.
So, how does a runner begin their lifting regime? Establishing a base of weight training fitness is step one. Please don’t go into a gym to see what your max Squat or Deadlift is on the first day. Seek out a competent trainer that can train and progress you accordingly.
It is recommended that a training block of 8 weeks with 8-12 reps is completed before testing yourself with any sort of heavy lifting. Each week seek out to do more than you did the training session before, whether that is another rep, another couple pounds, or another set! However, don’t lift more than you know you’re capable of. A good rule of thumb is that there should always be one high-quality repetition left in reserve. All lifts should be done with good form because when it comes time to start heavy lifting, any poor habits will be magnified and can lead to injury.
Distance runners need to run to get good at running. We know that much, but that fact doesn’t mean lifting heavy is a waste of time for them. In fact, it can be the difference-maker that keeps them stronger, faster and healthier than their competition.
One of the first worries runners have about lifting heavy is bulking up. If you are a recreational , competitive runner or an elite competitive runner, bulking up is not the optimal body type for endurance races where there is an increase in the time on your feet. The benefits of adding power to your stride would be negated if it also added weight to your frame.
Let's debunk this myth. Muscle “bulk” coincides with several variables, which include fueling/nutrition (excess calories), specific, heavy training 4-5 times per week, and enough rest from catabolic activities (such as running) so that adaptation may occur. If any of these variables are not in place, “bulk” will not occur.
Specifically, you shouldn’t be lifting heavy more than once or twice per week and the vast majority of your training will be in the form of running. Therefore, the time you spend running will vastly outnumber the time spent lifting heavy. This will also prevent any excess bulk.
You may experience some weight gain, however, any additional weight that you put on, should result in more power/velocity and the ability to handle the additional load. This could translate to that final 5 to 10 percent improvement in your running you are looking for! Consider adding one or two sessions per week of heavy lifting.
There are two basic ways to keep track of your running—by time or by distance. with so many tech tools designed to track your mileage with considerable accuracy it makes this debate even hotter amongst the running community. Truthfully, there are advantages and disadvantages to each method and the one that you choose should depend on your specified needs and preferences.
Running by time often works better if you are on a tight schedule; while running by distance can push you to stay motivated. If your running a consistent pace, your mileage and speed will likely be the same no matter which method you choose. A good idea is to run by time for each individual run, but be sure to track your overall mileage for the week to be sure that you are running enough miles or not running too many miles.
Running for Time
One reason to run for time is that it is easy to fit a run into your daily routine. When you only have a certain amount of time available, a timed run ensures that you can get in a workout without having to worry about hitting a certain distance.
Running for Distance
If your training for a longer event, running by distance can be an important factor. Covering a certain set number of miles each run can be motivating at times and it encourages you to keep a continuous pace so that you can achieve your day's goal.
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, it is a good idea is to run by time for each individual run, but be sure to track your overall mileage for the week. Personally I like to run 60-75 minutes 6 days a week and then have a specific mileage goal for my long run. But, when things are not feeling easy, it is nice to switch gears and make your long run 2 hours - no set mileage. Time on your feet is what matters, not pace, and not mileage - especially as a beginner.