fitness

Tracy makes peace with the treadmill

Sam has a stellar memory (among many other great qualities). So when I posted in our 219 in 2019 group that I had done speed work on the treadmill yesterday she recalled a few years ago when I said how much I didn’t like training on the treadmill.

I didn’t even remember coming right out and saying that. I mean, I don’t know many (any?) people who think treadmill running is the best kind. So it didn’t surprise me that at some point I may have said something negative about it, but I didn’t recall saying that in a post.

Sam forward me a link to where I said it, in my post on hitting the winter running wall. It was just a brief remark in the context of a larger discussion about winter marathon training, cold, ice, wind. I said, “I could take it inside, but those long runs especially are a tough slog on the treadmill at the gym.”

To me that doesn’t really say “I hate the treadmill.” Rather, it is more along the lines of “the treadmill is a tough slog if you’ve got any distance to cover.” And that I will stand behind still today.

But…I do find the treadmill great for my speed work, hill training, and tempo runs when the weather and icy conditions are a deterrent that would keep me from running altogether. Lately, I have taken to the treadmill down in the little gym in my condo building and had really good experiences.

I’m appreciating how you can adjust the speed for timed intervals and adjust the incline for hills. I’m able to get a good rhythm going, speeding things up and then dialing them down for rest intervals, then amping it back up again.

And I can wear shorts and a tank. No need to bundle up. I also like it when there are other people in the gym doing their workouts. We don’t necessarily chat but having others in the room keeps me company.

It does have its limits though. I know that back in 2016 when Anita and Julie and I were training for the Around the Bay relay we did a really long workout on the condo treadmills one Sunday when the winter conditions were unreasonable. But mostly you can’t get me to do more than an hour on the treadmill. That may change as Around the Bay approaches, the winter rages on, and the long runs get longer. My thought about it right now though is that I hit my limit at an hour.

For all that, I can certainly attest that if I ever hated the treadmill, I don’t hate it now. The last week or so, with the windchill temperatures being colder than -15 degrees C, I’ve taken to the treadmill a few times, pounding out a tempo run or some speed intervals and it’s been exhilarating.

I can’t imagine a day when I’d rather run on a treadmill if the outdoor conditions were inviting, but I’m happy that it’s an option that could fend off a winter running wall in the midst of my training for Around the Bay. What I haven’t done is indoor track running. It’s another option, but it’s not right downstairs like the treadmills.

What’s your view of treadmill running?

3 thoughts on “Tracy makes peace with the treadmill

  1. I can definitely relate, Tracy! I was very reluctant to transition to a treadmill in Guelph after four years of daily year-round sea-wall running in Nanaimo! I’m surprised by my changed attitude toward the treadmill as a great tool to push myself in ways that I don’t readily initiate when running outside. I still love running outside and will take that option every chance I get, but I’m seeing the benefits of treadmill running beyond the obvious escape from inclement weather.

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  2. I feel like I’m “against” treadmills (for myself), but I know that’s probably not true! Because I used to be “against” spin classes, and now I love them for their indoor efficiency and the opportunity to bathe in music while I workout. But like you, the outdoors is always calling my name, if the weather isn’t too inclement. I am about to go out cross country skiing in a ferocious snow storm–but I wouldn’t run in this weather!

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  3. I use a treadmill as a running supplement quite a lot, actually. I’m not training for anything, so I don’t do spped or tempo work, but I’ve found it to be a great psychological tool. When I don’t want to get dressed and go out for a run, I can talk myself into doing one on the treadmill instead. It’s feel like a cheat/treat to myself, but it’s one where I’m still running! Are I used it a lot in grad school, when I found it hard to get in any activity. I’d walk on the treadmill while reading–got exercise and stayed awake enough to finish my readings!!

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