The Treadmill Struggle is Real

 

I hate treadmills. I know they are useful and in some situations better for your body than running outside in extreme weather or pollution. Treadmills are troublesome for a few reasons. First, they’re inside. Second, the scenery is limited and the same day after day. Third, you are not going anywhere. Fourth, there are numbers right in front of you telling you how much longer your torture session is. Sixth, it’s not the same workout.

A treadmill can be helpful if you are working on cadence, stride length, and form. It’s easier to pay attention to these things when you’re not going anywhere and the surface doesn’t change.

Treadmill and outdoor running are different. You expend less energy running on a treadmill than you do outdoors (running at the same pace). The reasons for this is the lack of wind resistance, terrain changes, and because the treadmill belt helps propel you along. To compensate for this, raise the incline to at least one percent.

Another difference is your smaller stabilizing muscles in the lower legs don’t work as hard on a treadmill as they do outdoors. This is because the surface is level, and you don’t have to propel your body forward as much. Your calf muscles, on the other hand, work much harder. Because of the extra work, runners can have calf muscle pain, shin splints, Achilles tendonitis and other issues if they run long distance on treadmills.

The biggest challenge of treadmill running, for me, is the monotony. How do you keep yourself entertained while on the treadmill? (really, I want to hear from all of you on this one).

Here is what I’ve come up with: music, audio books, podcasts, Netflix or other video streaming, and books (yes, I can read on a e-reader and run. Actual books are more complicated). For longer runs, I have to take all of these.

Other ways to entertain oneself while running the hamster wheel are to do various types of workouts. Here are a few suggestions:

Hamster Wheel Speed work

Workout: Six/Sevens
Warm Up

1 Set: 90 seconds @ 6 percent grade and marathon pace
1-minute recovery @ flat jog
1 minute @ 7 percent grade and marathon pace
2-minute recovery @ flat jog
Do 6-10 sets.
CoolDown

 Workout: Faster, Faster
Warm up
1 Set: 400m @ easy run pace
400m @ 15K (tempo) pace
400m @ 3-5K race pace
Do 4 sets.
Cool Down

Workout: The Pyramid
Warm Up

Set 1: steady pace 1 minute each @ 4, 5 and 6 percent incline
2-3 minutes recovery @ flat jog

Set 2: steady pace 1 minute each @ 5, 6 and 7 percent incline
2-3 minutes recovery @ flat jog

Set 3: steady pace 1 minute each @ 6, 7 and 8 percent incline
2-3 minutes recovery @ flat jog

Set 4: steady pace 1 minute each @ 7, 6 and 5 percent incline
2-3 minutes recovery @ flat jog

Set 5: steady pace 1 minute each @ 6, 5 and 4 percent incline
2-3 minutes recovery @ flat jog
Cool down

Workout: The Lab Rat
Warm up

Stage 1: 4 minutes @ easy run pace
lower speed 2 mph for 2-minute recovery

Stage 2: 4 minutes @ stage 1 pace + 1 mph
lower speed 2 mph for 2-minute recovery

Stage 3: 4 minutes @ stage 2 pace + 1 mph
lower speed 2 mph for 2-minute recovery

Stage 4: 4 minutes @ stage 3 pace + 1 mph
lower speed 2 mph for 2-minute recovery

Stage 5: 4 minutes @ stage 4 pace + 1 mph
lower speed 2 mph for 2-minute recovery
Cool down

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4 thoughts on “The Treadmill Struggle is Real

  1. iwasjustrundering November 9, 2017 at 3:14 pm Reply

    Thanks for sharing those workouts! I’m always looking to change it up on the treadmill. I try to only use it for speed workouts or when it’s raining outside. Some ways I try to keep occupied are watch videos on my phone, look at some of the weight lifters in the gym and silently critique their form (lol), or watch something on one of the gym TV’s. Doing speed workouts does make it go a lot faster though because you’re engaged in the workout and you’re constantly changing speeds, inclines, etc. No way I would want to do a steady long run on the dreadmill. I did it once and it was 100% misery.

  2. JakeB November 9, 2017 at 4:22 pm Reply

    I’m with you – I generally loathe treadmills, but sometimes they’re a necessity, and they do allow you to do more tightly controlled workouts. Personally, an iPad with a good TV series loaded on to it is the only way I can get through the monotony!

  3. Keith Petersen November 9, 2017 at 7:47 pm Reply

    I don’t like the treadmill at all and don’t use it.
    I’m sure you’ve already considered ellipticals?
    Since the weather change I’ve shifted my cross training day to 1/2 elliptical session and 1/2 rowing machine session. The monotony is strong anyway but at least it breaks it up… sort of.

  4. arianawoodall November 11, 2017 at 4:25 pm Reply

    Watching something on Amazon or Netflix are biggies for me. If I do an audio book it has to be a good one, like a creepy mystery where I make sure the guy on the treadmill behind me hasn’t suddenly decided to sneak up on me with a knife kind of creepy. hahahahaha

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