On a daily basis there is a reference to the ‘dreadmill’ on social media. Less routinely is the reference to riding the bike trainer and fewer references to swimming in the pool. To me these are all tools to help us get better at our chosen sport. Why would we not use them? I have a hard time understanding why athletes, looking to get better, would leave their tools in the toolbox. Often times they say that treadmill training lacks variety and leads to boredom. I don’t believe this to be true and it’s why I believe you need to maximize your treadmill workouts by using your imagination, amongst other things.
Maximizing Your Training: Don’t Leave The Treadmill Behind
Imagine for a moment, trying to build a house and only using a screwdriver. It would make that task much harder. It would also take the builder a lot longer since they’ve chosen to leave a tool in their toolbox. This is what athletes are doing when they decide they hate the treadmill and would rather not use it.
We’ve seen the articles and blog posts about why you should do it. I will try not to rehash the same standard reply of: if the weather is bad, if it’s dark outside or if you’re in a strange community. Those are very good reasons to jump on the treadmill or spin bike, but they’re not the only reasons to utilize these tools
What I want to talk about is being able to use the treadmill to help you train for your race. With this as the background, I am going to assume you have limited space in your house. This means that you are heading to the gym to run on the treadmill.
Maximize Your Treadmill Workouts
Lack Of Variety
I have heard, and read, from athletes that there is a lack of variety when they are on the treadmill. This makes me scratch my head as you can adjust the incline of the treadmill as well as the speed.
- Speed Work. By setting the pace on the treadmill, I am held to that speed whereas on the road or track you can either go out too fast or end up slowing down and not holding the pace you set for yourself.
- Hill repeats. If you don’t live in an area with hills, the treadmill is your best friend. You can review the race course and determine the gradient throughout the race and then mimic it on the treadmill.
- Weight Vest Hikes. Leverage the ability to set a rather large incline, don a weight vest and hike. Hiking is a great way to develop strength that will be returned to you during your races, even if it’s a flat course.
Use your imagination and build workouts that will make the time on the treadmill, or bike trainer, a lot of fun.
Adjust The Idea Of Boring From Negative To Positive
This is a good thing. Being bored while running on the treadmill is a terrific way to learn how to master your mind. Mastering the muscle that lies 6” between your ears is a key to success in endurance sports.
During training, and the race, you will come across those moments that test you. You will ask yourself, what am I doing here? You will lean on your why and that will come from having built the mental ability to ensure the why is stronger than your excuse for not moving forward.
Face the idea that you’ll get bored and then overcome it. This tool will come in handy as you are building your path to the finish line. Learn to play games in your mind to pass the time. Some options might be, try to recall the words to a childhood poem or your favorite song, sing the alphabet to gauge your rate of perceived exertion, or quiz yourself on math in your head to pass the time. You’ll be so busy mentally the time will go by without notice.
It Feels Like It Is So Time-Consuming
If this is your reason for not using the treadmill, I will ask you: Why do you think you need to be on the treadmill for so long? If it is because of being bored, then read above.
There is no rule that says you have to use the treadmill for a certain period of time. When I don’t want to run outside for my recovery run, I’ll jump on the treadmill for 30 minutes. I will walk for the first 5 minutes to warm-up. After that, I’ll run for 20 minutes at an 11:00/mi pace and just enjoy not going all out. Then I’ll walk for 5 minutes. Done.
From this thought process, I’ll also ask you: how long is the race you’re doing? If it is a 5k and you average 10:00/mi then you are running for 30 minutes. You can run on the treadmill for that long. If you are racing a 250 mile race, then 30 minutes to an hour should not be that hard to do considering you’ll be running for 4-5 days.
Don’t Leave Your Tools In The Toolbox
Your tools are only good if you use them. This article discusses the use of the treadmill, but is also applicable to the bike trainer, as well as a pool. By being able to adjust your mindset the treadmill can become a thrillmill and a fantastic tool to help you reach your goals. If you maximize your treadmill workouts. you will have more tools to accomplish your goals.