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Why I love to run on a treadmill (at the gym)...

Posted Feb 26 2011 11:10pm

I have a treadmill at my house but I prefer to run at the gym. At home I can get in a short 30 minute run but anything more than that just doesn't work very well. Of course, running outdoors with friends is my preferred way to run, but the treadmill at the gym is a close second. Here's why:

1. Adverse weather conditions. Having access to a treadmill means never having to miss a run due to weather or time of day. I've started plenty of runs after 9pm on the treadmill. I've also woke to the pitter patter of raindrops at 5am and headed straight to the gym to run on the treadmill instead.

2. Temperature control. I don't ever have to run outdoors when it's too cold or too hot. And I have a small fan on the treadmill that blows directly at me.

3. Healthy competition. Yes, I compete with others when I'm running on the treadmill. Maybe I only planned to run 40 minutes but 35 minutes into it you hop on the treadmill next to me? You bet I'll run longer, hopefully until you finish your run first. And I always want to be going faster and/or at a greater incline than the people next to me. It's really quite silly because they don't know we're competing and, really, we aren't. But in my mind, we are.

4. Controlled inclines. I love all running routes -- hilly, flat, rolling, whatever. But some days I really want a particular kind so it's nice to have that ability on a treadmill. I'll often gradually increase my incline as I run. Sometimes I'll flatten it out as I speed up. Other times I'll just adjust it slightly ever 1/4 of a mile just to keep things interesting.

5. Pace specific runs. Tempo runs, intervals, slower recovery runs... these are all perfectly suited for the treadmill. The 'numbers nerd' in me loves that I can program the treadmill to specific paces and force myself to hold the pace for specific periods of time. There's no falling off the pace when you are on the treadmill. I guess you run the risk of falling off the treadmill, but it hasn't happened yet.

6. TV. I don't usually watch TV while I run, but at my gym they are on every treadmill so I have that option should I need to catch up on a show, the news, weather, etc. I prefer to watch the other people at the gym, stare at the blank TV screen and/or secretly plan my "race" with the people running near me.

7. Easy on/off. Some days I want to run but then when I start something just doesn't come together and I don't really feel like it anymore. On the treadmill, I won't find myself a mile or two from home before I realize that today just isn't a good day. I can simply finish my run right then and there and find something else to do (or not!).

8. Gym class warm-up. I find a quick run before a class gets my body warmed up and ready. I esp. love to do this before a spin class. A quick 4 miles and then I'm immediately walking into a spin class.

9. Childcare. I don't take my kids often, but I love knowing I can take them to the gym with me if I need to. If I run on the treadmill at home, it usually means they are running circles in the room next to me or in front of me. It is not how I prefer to run. Having childcare as an option at the gym has been a lifesaver and not just so I can get in a run. I've been known to take them to the gym during the late afternoon (aka witching hour) - not because I want to work out, but because I want a break.

10. I can lose the extras. The treadmills have cupholders for my drinks so I don't have to carry a water bottle or wear a fuel belt. I don't have to carry my opened GU or stuff it in my pocket until I reach the next garbage can. I have a place to put a sweat towel because, let me tell you, I sweat very heavily and having a towel saves my gloves and shirt. I don't have to wear a hat. I don't have to apply sunblock that I'll just wipe off (my face) anyway. I like not having to carry stuff.

11. Technique. The treadmill is great for working on your technique or form. A few weeks ago I was listening to The Marathon Show with Joe Taricani. He was talking to Danny Dreyer (ChiRunning) and Danny was giving tips to improve your running form. I was able to focus on making some adjustments and testing them.

12. Safety. I prefer to run with others, but sometimes you just aren't able to. The gym is safe from weird people lurking in bushes; safe from drivers texting instead of paying attention; no trip hazards as the surface is smooth and free of cracks, curbs, etc; there's no need to "share the road" (where I live, cyclists don't like to share with runners)...

What about you? Do you also enjoy running on the treadmill?

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