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The Running Coach: It’s Winter- Treadmill or Road?

Posted Jan 25 2013 10:40am

I get a lot of questions from people who primarily use the treadmill in winter—they wonder if too much time on the dreaded ‘mill will affect their running. The short answer is no, but there’s more to the picture than that.

First, if you really don’t like the treadmill (I don’t), then do whatever you can to avoid it. For me it’s really about the enjoyment of running; I don’t enjoy it if it’s on a treadmill. So I’ll strap on Yaktrax, layer up, and head out barring the worst of conditions.

If, however, you would rather be warm and comfortable for your winter running, or if you really have no choice, then don’t sweat it if the treadmill is the only way to go.

That said, you should make a few accommodations to ensure you do get quality training in while running on that conveyor belt. The first is that you should make all your runs at an elevation of at least one to compensate for the lack of rolling terrain you would otherwise experience on the road.

The second thing you want to do is throw in some intervals during your treadmill runs. Running on a moving belt in a controlled environment does make it a bit easier on you than running on the road. To ensure you don’t lose fitness, make sure that one or two runs per week include some speed, even just some strides at the end of your runs.

If you really want to take it up a notch, check out the plethora of treadmill workouts around the blogosphere, or consider a DVD series like Runervals .

Follow these tips and come spring, you’ll be prepped for the road like you didn’t miss a beat.

What’s your winter poison—the road or the treadmill?

- Amanda

(Amanda Loudin is a runner, coach, and freelance writer with 15 years experience in endurance events. As a runner, she’s in perpetual training mode, usually with a slate of about eight races per year on her plate. As a coach, she has helped runners achieve their goals in every distance from 5k to the marathon. She shares her passion for the sport on her blog,  MissZippy1 , and daily on Twitter at @ misszippy1 .)

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