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Winter Running: Surviving the Treadmill.

Posted Jan 14 2011 4:06pm

It is that time of year again.  When spring races are all over my upcoming calendar, my pants are too tight from the holidays, and I’m itching to hit the sidewalks running.  Only one problem – the sidewalks are covered in snow and ICE!

I keep bundling up, getting the dogs all ready to go – and then going outside to find a frozen slip n’ slide waiting for me.  Not very conducive to running – especially with 100+ pounds pulling hard on the leashes!

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Because of this, I have been doing all of my training runs these past few weeks on the dreaded treadmill.  Long-time readers may remember that back in Charlotte, we actually had a treadmill at our house.  But when we moved to Virginia and did a major downsize, I ended up selling our treadmill on Craigslist. 

When we moved here we joined the local gym in our neighborhood so that we would have full access to treadmills and weight lifting equipment (sold all our weights too!).  Another major reason for going the gym?  We both work at home.  While working from home is 90% amazing and wonderful, it can also be a little isolating.  If we didn’t make a point to go work in coffee shops, take long walks with the dogs, and work out at the gym – it would be very easy for us to not leave our house for a week!

As introverted as I can be, I’m also the type that thrives off of the energy of others.  I do my best work when I am surrounded by people.  So while our gym is tiny, expensive, and probably has an average age of 75 – it is also a nice social outlet at the end of a day of work.

Recently, I have discovered a way to break up the monotony and boredom of treadmill running!

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I used to always throw a towel over the treadmill clock and try to distract myself with TV or music, but usually after a minute or two my mind would start to wander…

  • I wonder how far I’ve run…
  • I hate this song…
  • Does it feel like it’s been a mile yet?
  • Why don’t I update my iPod more often?
  • This treadmill is loud…
  • Maybe I’ll cut my mileage short today…

And usually my treadmill workouts end up slower or shorter than I originally intended, mostly because I just couldn’t mentally get myself to push through the boredom.  Enter my new favorite treadmill workout – INTERVALS!

In previous runs, I would always cover the time and mileage because for some reason I thought that was helpful.  Now instead, I actually focus on the mileage and set super short interval goals, which allows me to focus on the clock without obsessing about the longer run at hand.  Here’s how it works…

Start by walking 0.25 miles to warm up at whatever pace is comfortable to you.  Then hit reset on the mileage and start jogging…

Jog 6.0 mph (10:00 pace) – 0.20 miles
Increase to 6.5 mph (9:14 pace) – 0.40 miles
Increase to 7.0 mph (8:34 pace) – 0.40 miles
Total mileage – 1 mile

Repeat for however many miles you are scheduled to run!

Now obviously this workout is based on my personal speeds, but you could scale this to match whatever speed works for you – just increase and decrease 0.5 mph at a time.  Intervals are a great way to break up a run, and they are also proven to be the most effective way to boost metabolism and burn fat through cardio.

Here’s hoping this strategy works for tackling 9 miles tomorrow!

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Speaking of running – I updated my Running Page and my Runs and Races Page (which now includes all 26 race I’ve done!).  Make sure to check them out!

How do you survive winter workouts?  Any other treadmill tips?


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