As usual at this time of year, I’m deep in the midst of training for my early season races – a 30K at the end of March, a 10K in mid-April, a half marathon in mid-May, and a six hour race in mid-June.
That’s quite an ambitious program for an old guy. It means that my training program has to be spot on, and that I have to keep at it, come what may. Given the fact that I don’t like running outside in the cold, snow, and ice – and that I really like being barefoot – it means that I rely on my treadmill to make it to my spring and early summer races.
Most runners dislike the treadmill. I really like it. I like running on it, I like training on it, and I like the opportunities it provides.
The treadmill I own is a NordicTrack A2550. It’s about two years old now, and was a mid-range model when I bought it. It’s well made, has a good 3.5HP motor, and it folds. It doesn’t have many bells and whistles, and I don’t use those it has. Just the basics, thanks, and that’s OK with me.
(This is a stock photo. I don’t own an iPod, and probably never will.)
Pretty basic, and pretty obvious. I can run on the treadmill when it’s really cold outside, when it’s raining, and when the sidewalks and roads are covered with snow and ice. I don’t have to worry about traffic (vehicular or pedestrian). And I always know exactly what the running surface is going to be for my run. Most importantly, I can run barefoot all through the winter. And I can wear as little clothing as I want.
All of the above, plus…
The treadmill offers an ideal setting for focusing on the run itself. I can be sure that I stick to a specific pace for the entirety of each run, which isn’t always possible when running outdoors. I can concentrate on my form to a quite remarkable degree, and work over a number of weeks or months to modify and improve it. Same goes for breathing and visualizations.
I don’t watch TV or movies when I’m on the treadmill, and very seldom listen to music. (Long Sunday treadmill runs are exception.) I do, though, have on the wall in front of my treadmill maps of routes of upcoming races. I often use those to visualize running a race or a portion of race. On either side of of the maps, I have a couple of photos that I took on my last holiday in the Dominican Republic. One shows palm trees against a sunny tropical sky, and the other is of a little back road I ran on when I was there. With them, I can get entirely away from the snow and cold outside.
All of the above, plus…
Running whenever I want to. Being able to find the time to run in the midst of busy work and personal schedules. Cutting a run short if I feel really awful. Having my own “porta-potty” in the room next door. Having my greyhound curl up on the floor beside my treadmill.
Don’t have treadmill love?
Perhaps it’s all in your approach. Here are some guidelines that might help:
1/ Don’t expect treadmill runs to be like outdoor runs. They’re not, and never can be. But they can still be good runs. be open to that.
2/ Read your treadmill manual, especially if you don’t normally read manuals. You need to know how to use your treadmill properly.
3/ Set your treadmill’s incline at 2% for walks and runs. That will make your treadmill more like walking on a flat surface. Later on, if and when you do hill training on your treadmill, you can raise the incline to between 8% and 10%.
4/ Do not hold onto the rails. You don’t hold on to anything when you’re walking or running outside, do you?
5/ Love your treadmill, and your treadmill will love you back.