Running on a treadmill at some point during a training cycle is just an unfortunate reality for most runners. Here in the Northeast, that’s especially true during the winter months. It’s often safest to stay indoors than try to run on slippery roads, often in the dark, dodging snow drifts.
But there’s a reason it’s called the “dreadmill.” It can be boring!
If you’re stuck inside, why not approach the treadmill with a specific training purpose and give these three treadmill workouts a try. Each one focuses on speeds and with changing inclines and intensity, they will keep you on your toes. Speed work is a key cog in a training program and will help improve your speed, form, and hopefully your race performances.
Workout 1: The Slow Burn
Purpose: Most runners include a long run in their weekly workout schedule. Much of the benefit from that long run comes toward the end. Learning to hold the pace, or even increase the pace, on tired legs. Running fast on fresh legs is easy—but can you keep running faster and faster with mounting fatigue?
It’s a crucial skill in racing and this workout looks to help you get more practice both mentally and physically.
The Details: To start, warm up for 10 minutes with an easy job. After you’re warmed up, increase the pace by about 5-10 seconds per mile every 3 minutes until you can no longer hold the pace for 3 minutes. Now reverse the order back down to your starting pace.
You can also make this workout more difficult by simultaneously increasing the incline of the treadmill by half a percent. Or leave the speed constant but increase the incline only.
Workout 2: Fartleks
Purpose: Just because this one is simple doesn’t mean it’s not effective. Chances are you’ve heard of fartleks. It’s Swedish for for speed play. The purpose for this workout is to learn, and adapt, to changing paces frequently. Learning to cope with surges and alternating paces is a key skill in racing so why not practice while you’re stuck on the treadmill. This happens often in race situations so it’s a valuable skill to practice during training as well.
The Details: First, again make sure you warm up with some dynamic stretches and at least 10 minutes of easy jogging.
Next, run hard at your desired pace for 60 seconds then ramp it down and recover for 60 seconds. Can you do a whole hour?
Workout 3: Music Roulette
Purpose: Too often we run structured workouts where we know exactly what’s coming and consciously or not we adjust or pace ourselves accordingly. But in a race, you may not know when your competition is planning a surge or when the next big hill will jump out at you. This workout will help you get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Embrace the uncertainty!
The Details: First, make or download a playlist of about 10 – 15 songs that are each about three minutes long. Make sure that half the songs are upbeat, high intensity songs and the other half are more mellow.
Do your 10 minutes of warmup then set your playlist to shuffle and you’re ready to go! When an upbeat song starts, run fast. When a mellow song starts, run slow.
Once you have the music, it’s simple but don’t be fooled this treadmill session can be a challenging workout. You’ll have to pace yourself and be a bit more cautious than you would while running the first two sessions.
There aren’t many people (are there any?) that prefer running through the winter on a treadmill rather than running outside. But the treadmill can be an effective training tool when approached with the right mindset and the right workouts. Don’t just slog through the miles while watching Netflix. These engaging treadmill workouts can help spice up your winter training with a purpose and perhaps make the treadmill a little more bearable until you can get back outside.