Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Treadmill Tips for the Long Run

Most runners I know are pretty bad-ass, they run hundreds of miles in the heat, cold, wind, snow. And they usually have a common enemy: the treadmill, also known as the "dreadmill." It's not hard to see why- running in place, mile after mile, like a hamster on a wheel? Yuck, no thank you!

Except when you don't have a choice. Freezing rain, ice/hail, and temperatures above 90 degrees are all conditions that will force me to either skip my scheduled run or get the miles in on the treadmill. Which is usually fine for a 30-45 minute run. But this past weekend, with 15 on the Pittsburgh Marathon training schedule, skipping the long run wasn't an option. And neither was running outside- it was hovering in the low-30's with freezing rain and snow- not the kind of weather you want to be spending 3+ hours in.

So onto the treadmill Matthew and I went! For three hours and twenty two minutes. And three seconds :-) Honestly, I didn't think it was that bad but as I was chatting with other runner friends, I realized that there's a lot of hatred out there for the treadmill. While I will always prefer to run outside, there are times that the treadmill is a must. So let's try to hate it less- here are my tips for surviving a long (or any!) run on a treadmill!




  • Bring a Friend. Having a buddy to slog out the miles with on the treadmill is a God-send! It truly does help the time go by faster when you can chat with a friend.
  • Split the run into time, not miles. This little mental trick is instrumental in helping me wrap my head around the run. For last week's 15 miler, I knew it would take at least three hours so I focused on getting through each hour; rather than each mile. 
  • Find something good to watch- or listen to. I'm lucky enough to have access to a small gym with a TV and a treadmill. I prefer to watch something inspiring, usually an athletic event. Movies, TV shows, and podcasts are also helpful in keeping your mind distracted. You can even use your phone to watch/listen if you don't have access to a common TV. 
  • Reach out to your social media tweeps. Several times during last weekend's run I shared my progress on twitter- and got lots of encouraging tweets back. It was really helpful to know that I had support from all over the interwebs. 
  • Use the Speed Interval function. I just learned about this a few weeks ago. Most treadmills have a "speed interval" button or something similar. It allows you to alternate between two different speeds with the push of a button- one for walking and one for running. It makes using the Galloway run/walk method ten times easier on the treadmill. 
  • Visualize your goal race. Remembering WHY you're on the treadmill can help you stick to it. Visualizing the course, the finish line, how you'll feel on race day- all of those thoughts can power you through the boredom that often accompanies the human hamster wheel. 


So during this seemingly endless winter for most parts of the country, make friends with the treadmill and use it to help you reach your running and fitness goals!



What other tips do you have for the treadmill?


13 comments:

  1. I think your first piece of advice is the best one. If you are there with a friend anything is possible. Christine and I often text each other when we are in the middle of a difficult run. Good advice Sarah and major kudos for running all that time on the treadmill last weekend. Hopefully you can get out this week.

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    1. Thanks! The weather is looking better here and I have just a short 3 miler scheduled for this weekend- I can deal with the cold or rain for just 3 miles :-)

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  2. Having a running buddy is super helpful. Two weeks ago I ran 12.5 miles on the treadmill, and thankfully had Preston running alongside me. I have 14 on the plan for this weekend, and it looks like I'll be running on the treadmill. Sadly, our weekend schedules don't match up this weekend, so I'll be on my own. But you can bet that I'll be bringing the iPad along so that I had something to watch.

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    1. Yes! It is so great that we have such technology at our fingertips! What did people do on the treadmill before ipads and phones?! :-) By the way, so excited to see you in a few weeks!

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  3. It is not really much different from what you mentioned but my key to surviving my 9 miles on the treadmill was to have a rhythm of minute increments. I would run 1 minute at 4.8, 1 minute at 4.9, 1 minute at 5.0, 1 minute at 5.1 and 1 minute at 5.2. Then I would walk for 1 or 2 minutes at 3.5. I have a hard time running at a consistent pace on the treadmill so having that little series of increments really helped. It also helped that I put on the Bourne Identify to watch while I ran!

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    1. YES! I love playing around with the speed on the treadmill- it forces me to run faster or harder than I normally would. And Jason Bourne isn't bad to look at either :-)

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  4. Ugh, the treadmill! Its weird, I used to ONLY run on a treadmill. Then I started to run outside on the weekends, but was still fine with driving to the YMCA 10 miles away to run on the treadmill during the week. Now I live in an apartment complex with a small gym, its a quarter mile walk, and I can't get myself to go run on the treadmill this winter. I feel like its because the apartment gym is "free" unlike a membership to the Y so I ignore it. Maybe I need to get my butt in gear and go join a Y in Harford County. Or just suck it up and make myself go to the 'free' gym because more snow is coming.

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    1. I use our "free" treadmill at the apartment complex only when I have to. I will also say that the Y in Abingdon is awesome! I used to belong there when I lived in Bel Air. Good luck in whatever choice you make! :-)

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  5. Almost all of my training runs are on my treadmill. I don't live in a very runner friendly community, so running at home on my treadmill is definitely within my comfort zone. It may sound strange, but I put my iPad in the book holder and play solitaire or slot machines while I run-walk-run! I break long runs into two segments (the treadmill shuts off after 99 min) with the first segment being the longest (usually 8 miles). I also like vary my incline and usually come up with some kind of pattern to tell when when to go up or down. All of this helps distract me and breaks my run into smaller segments at a time. Basically, I make running on the treadmill a game!

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    1. All of those tips sound awesome! I never even thought of playing a game on the ipad- how fun would that be! I'm sorry you don't live in a runner friendly community. I don't really either so a lot of my runs are on the treadmill/ through my apartment complex neighborhood.

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  6. I found a whole bunch of treadmill workouts on pinterest! I write them down and put them on the treadmill. It makes the time go by so much quicker!

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    1. You're so speedy and so smart! :-)

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