Treadmill Running Doesn’t Have to Suck

By February 4, 2013Training


The wonderful part about being a runner is that you can do it almost anywhere. Although you can run outside year round, there are days when it makes more sense to hit the treadmill and many runners move inside full time as it is safer, more convenient and a better way to get in a quality run. It’s wise to start thinking about winterizing your running routine now rather than waiting until you have to. Here are a few tips to consider when making the transition from the roads to the treadmill.

Be mindful that the treadmill may feel more challenging at first due to the warmer climate. The average home or gym environment is typically 68-70 degrees, which is much warmer than the cool fall weather. It helps to keep the intensity a little easier for the first week and let your body acclimate.

Gradually transition inside by alternating a few shorter runs on the treadmill with a few outdoor runs for the first two weeks. Treadmill running is a fantastic way to get or stay in shape, but it is different than running on the roads. Outside, you propel yourself forward. Inside, you keep up with the tread.

It’s not bad, it’s just different. Consider a spinning class versus riding your bike outside. Sometimes, you can get in a harder effort workout in the spin class than you would outside. So if a running purest tries to tell you that “the treadmill” really isn’t running, tell them the Christine Clark story where she trained exclusively on the treadmill through an Alaska winter and won the Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials! Awesomeness…

It’s not less than, it’s just different – and it’s important to make the transition outside to inside and vice versa, gradually to allow your body time to adapt to the differences in landing patterns and muscle involved.

If you’re looking to maintain your outdoor running fitness but still want to run on the treadmill, simply sprinkle in a few runs outside each week. It makes it easier to transition during the fall and spring transitional seasons and keeps your workouts a little more spontaneous.

For those living in colder regions with lots of snow and extreme weather, consider snowshoe hiking and running! It’s a challenging workout that really breaks the hibernation blues and burns a ton of calories!

As much as I love treadmill running, I always have a tough time making the transition in the fall. I think mostly because I go from exploring the roads and trails to the basement walls! Give yourself several weeks to adapt and slowly bring your workouts inside. Uplifting music can make the difference on those low motivation days. Make a playlist of your favorite tunes and keep the treadmill workouts shorter until you make the transition.

Once you’ve adapted, mix up your workouts with hills, speed intervals and circuit workouts to keep it interesting. Some of my best workouts have happened to a the tune of a great playlist and on the treadmill in my basement.

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