Treadmill workouts are not nearly as much fun as hitting the road or the trail, but they can afford some real benefits for your training program. Treadmills offer feedback that is immediate and progressive. They also offer precision to your training program. While it can be tough to spend hours running on a belt, there is something to be said for the mental stamina that is required to get through it.
Running on a treadmill gives you the option to get in hill workouts and speed training. They allow you to accurately time your runs and make improvements on your anaerobic threshold. Treadmills keep you incredibly honest about your progress, and provide the tools to make greater strides toward your running goals.
In order to make these strides, you must attack your treadmill workouts with a plan in mind. Many runners believe that treadmills hinder your headway because the belt takes away from road conditions and wind resistance. However, the muscles and cardiovascular system are still getting a great workout with your full awareness of what they are doing.
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When you step onto the treadmill, it is important to pay attention to the numbers on the dash. Most treadmills monitor your speed, mileage, heart rate and calorie count while you are running. Most also have a clock for you to measure intervals and time them properly. These are numbers you want to watch and monitor during each workout. Ideally, you are running on a home treadmill where you can log your workouts and push for better times and faster runs each time you get on it. However, the gym offers the benefit of competition with the gym rat regulars that you see each week.
Whether your treadmill logs your runs or you have a system for keeping track at the gym, you want to also be sure to mix up your workouts. Treadmills are an excellent opportunity to work on your speed. When I approach a treadmill workout, I purposely set up my intervals to push my anaerobic threshold beyond its current capability.
I also recommend setting the treadmill to alternate between hill workouts by changing the incline. This allows me to simulate a hill workout and bring in hill repeats, which are not easy to do on the road. Setting the treadmill prior to starting my run leaves me with my own stubbornness to face if I back down and change the settings. Hitting the road and deciding how many times to repeat a hill while on it doesn’t offer the same commitment level.
I am a huge advocate for treadmill running. It is easier on the joints and better for the body than hard pounding on the road. I constantly encourage runners to take at least one day a week to run on the treadmill instead of outside. Of course, treadmill workouts should not replace your outdoor running entirely. One or two days a week is sufficient to keep your running on track, log your progress and push your anaerobic threshold.
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