Treadmill Boredom Busters

It’s been far too long since I’ve actually blogged about “running” on Running For Trevor but I have actually been logging quite a few miles this Winter.  In my opinion this is the hardest time of year to stay motivated as far as running goes.  Races are few and far between, temperatures are below freezing, and well sometimes sipping on hot cocoa and watching the biggest loser in fluffy fleece pants just seems like the cool thing to do.

Fortunately I’ve been able to resume most of my running outside with the proper clothing, lots of caution, and a few really crazy great running friends.  Last Saturday I even ran my coldest run yet in -6 degree weather.  That was a whole new level of insanity even for me but when properly dressed anything under 10 degrees feels about the same.  Cold is cold!

Running outside all year long is absolutely possible and many of my amazingly talented running friends never set foot on a treadmill.  But for those days when you just want to wuss out or don’t feel like putting on 12 layers of clothing here are my top five treadmill boredom busters.  Because lets face it, unless your EMZ running on the treadmill is just complete torture.  Here’s my attempt at keeping it Interesting.  As always everything that I post on this blog is simply my opinion and what has worked for me.  I am definitely no expert.

1: 1 minute on/off intervals:  Warm up easy and then alternate 1 min sprinting followed by 1 min easy recovery, cool down.Why I like it?  I like this workout because it is simple yet effective and works those fast twitch muscle fibers that so often get neglected with emphasis on distance running.  Mostly I like it because I am dumb and this workout takes very little brain function.  Just run fast for 1 minute and then slow for 1 minute.  Anyone can handle that right?

2:  1 mile repeats:  Warm up easy and then alternate 1 mile fast followed by quarter mile up to a full mile easy, repeat.  Try to increase your speed a notch with each repeat.  I usually end up doing 4 miles fast in a 60 min time period.Why I like it?   I like any sort of interval workout on the treadmill because it breaks up monotony.  1 mile repeats are a good alternative to tempo runs and help build stamina without fatiguing the legs as much.

3:  Hill Intervals:  Warm up at 1% and then gradually increase the incline every quarter to half mile until you have reached 3.5-4.5%, then go back down with the same method.  Keep your speed steady throughout.Why I like it?  Keeps things interesting and your mind constantly thinking and builds lower body strength.  One of the few beauties of the treadmill is that you can manipulate it.  You can basically mimic the elevation of any course by utilizing the incline on the treadmill.

4:  Progressive Tempo Warm up and then start a steady state tempo beginning at marathon pace and finishing at 10k-5k pace.  Just increase the speed a notch or two every mile to mimic the pace you are aiming for.  Depending on what I am training for I will do this for 4-8 miles.Why I like it?  The treadmill is utilized as a tool in this sort of workout and in a sense is teaching you how to pace yourself.  It is often hard to mimic paces outside because you are in control and terrain varies so why not let the machine do the work? All you have to do is keep up with the belt. 😉  Not feeling it?  Slow it down and just run at marathon pace.  That is the beauty of the treadmill…it will spin at whatever pace you tell it to.  Always listen to your body.

5:  Fartlek:  Bored to tears on the treadmill?  One of my favorite ways to bust boredom is to throw in a 5-40 minute fartlek effort.  Warm up for 10-30 min (or however long you feel like really) and then run at a steady fast pace for as long as you want and follow it up with a cool down.  This is one of those workouts that I never focus on distance but rather time intervals and effort. Why I like it?  I like this workout because it can be completely impromptu and can be as short or long as I want depending on the day.  Also because I don’t really like to follow a way specific training plan and rather try to be intuitive and listen to my body.  Again mostly I like this workout because I am dumb and don’t like to think and this is a great way to increase lactate threshold and improve speed.  I think fartleks are a great go to when you are feeling good but don’t know how to channel that positive energy.

Cliff notes:

  • I base all of my paces for different workouts off of the McMillan Running Calculator.  This does not work for everyone but for me I have found it to be incredibly accurate and very beneficial.  I am not way strict about following it but rather use it as a guide.
  • I base my workouts towards whatever I am training for and where I am at in my training cycle.  For example since I am training for a half marathon right now I would do my 1 mile repeats at half marathon pace or a little faster and my 1 min intervals at 5k pace.  Make sense?  Don’t be afraid to ask questions.  Just leave an e-mail in your comment and I will reply.
  • Always follow up a hard treadmill workout with an easy recovery day or cross-training.  Your recovery pace should be a good 45-90 seconds (or more) slower than your marathon pace give or take.  Everyone is different.  My friend Jake just wrote a great post on recovery.
  • Music, TV, Ipad (not that I have one but they seem to be all the rage), Magazines, books, people watching, singing out loud, and dancing (why not?) all contribute to busting boredom on the treadmill!

So as much as I despise Satan’s Sidewalk, the dreadmill, deathmill, or whatever you want to call it.  The treadmill really can be a great tool for consistency on those crappy days when you just don’t want to face the elements outside.  Just try to resist the urge to bang your head against the screen!