Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Dreadmill, Hamster Wheel, insert nasty word here

So many runners have this nasty aversion to the treadmill, believing that it was a creation on the Devil to torture runners. A Dailymile friend actually said it was analogous to one of Dante's Circles.  As someone who began their running life on the mill, I actually don't mind it and prefer it for some types of workouts and under certain conditions.

I HATE running in the rain!!!! Even though it might be refreshing and cool, the feeling of wet sock and shoes causing my feet to shrivel is not one I look forward to. This is an awesome reason for me to not despise the treadmill because today there was a short window of opportunity to run between storm fronts and unfortunately I was stuck at the bank! So, I headed to the gym and ran on the treadmill.

I will say that today's run is not the type of workout that I like doing on the TM but I needed some miles and it was the best option for me. A steady state run is just about the worst way to utilize the treadmill but that is what I needed today after yesterday's long run. Fortunately, my legs and lungs felt fine and the music and tv helped the time go by after the first 6 miles. The first 6 miles were pure torture!

So you are probably thinking, thanks for confirming why I hate the treadmill! But there are some compelling reasons to use it. First, it absorbs some of the impact, so it is easier on the joints. This is very helpful if you are trying to recover from a hard workout, or are trying to increase your running volume without injury! My legs felt just fine after 11 miles, which I am not so sure they would have on the roads. I know the trails are softer too, but again the whole running in the rain thing.

The other reason I like the treadmill is that it can make incremental changes in pace that are hard to do outside. I love doing progression runs on the TM to help the body learn how to run faster on tired legs. Typically, I will start around 6mph and increase .1mph every minute until I reach whatever my goal pace is for that day or after warming up, pick a pace then increase the pace every mile.

Tempo runs also lend themselves to the treadmill because you just set the pace and keep running or risk falling off the back. No worrying about the Garmin beeping at you to speed up or slow down. Just run till the time is up.

Give the treadmill another chance, you might actually see how it could benefit your training!


  1. Great tips on the benefits of running on the hamster wheel, err, treadmill. Happy running!

  2. i'm totally with you on this one. the controlled environment of the tread' can be priceless; doesn't beat the awesomeness of the outdoors, but it can be more than worth the time!

  3. The treadmill also gives you yet another way to get variety in your workouts. Since you run a tremendous number of miles each week, it's nice to have the choice between hills and flat, alone or with friends, and also between road, trail, treadmill, or even sand at the beach. I agree that the TM has its place, although I have yet to do any run over 6 miles on it, and only every once and a while. Last thing - it's *really* lucky your first marathon was not 4 HOURS in the rain like mine was!!

  4. I don't like running in the rain, either! I live too far away from any gym, so I need to get a treadmill for my home, even if it is small and we have no room, lol. Then I could set it up in front of the TV and watch TV while running! :-) You're right about setting a pace being easier, too.