This morning I did one of my favorite speed workouts on the treadmill, ladder style intervals with equal jog recoveries. I'm flirting with the idea of a February 5K, so I decided to take a stab at running some intervals at 5K effort. Given that I have not done anything but easy miles since the Indy Monumental Marathon this past November, I went by effort since my estimated 5K pace from my most recent marathon time doesn't quite match up with my current fitness level.
Like many others, I am currently in the middle of wind chill warnings, ice, and snow. Some runners will brave these conditions, some will take their runs to the treadmill. I handle cold temps pretty well, but if there is any chance of icy conditions, I head to the treadmill. While training for my first Boston Marathon in 2009, I took a nasty spill on a patch of black ice that left me bruised and sore for months. It is nothing short of a miracle that I did not come away from that fall with a fractured hip and a concussion. I did come away with a healthy fear of ice, and in doing so learned to make peace with the treadmill. Would I rather run outside and take in all of the benefits you can get from spending time outdoors? Of course, but for me a treadmill run is 1,000,000 times better than no run at all!
In addition to adverse weather, the treadmill has come in handy for many other reasons. I actually enjoy doing my speed work on the treadmill because it ensures a smooth surface to run on and zero excuses to stop when I'm tired - no intersections or traffic to worry about! The treadmill has also been invaluable to me as a mom, because there are times when I need to be home and can't venture outside to get in my run.
I won't lie, spending hours on the treadmill can of course get monotonous. I rely on TV and podcasts to keep me entertained. If I am doing an easy run on the treadmill, I vary the speed (within my easy range) every now and then to keep myself awake. Adding in some hill climbs randomly throughout the run is a great way to mimic outdoor terrain. A quick Google search can yield a plethora of tips for beating boredom and provide some great workout ideas.
In the running community, opinions on treadmills seem to fall primarily in the love or hate category. "Dreadmill" is a term I often hear. To each his own. For me, it's been a lifesaver.