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Sunday Setup: Treadmill Training for Runners

When Mother Nature throws a curve ball, one must still swing!

Negative temperatures, snow covered sidewalks, and icy trails loom as far as the eye can see. 
With the BMO Marathon & Half Marathon just 11 weeks away, there is no time to wait for the weather to come around. Many have chosen to continue running outside (brave!), but if you want to play it safe and warm, treadmills are a great alternative to get through the wild weather conditions. Here’s why:

Treadmills provide many training benefits

  • Treadmills offer more cushioning and less impact on joints than most outdoor surfaces. The softer running surface of a treadmill can help prevent common injuries caused from the intense repetitive pounding on pavement.
  • Treadmills help runners improve their pace by providing a controlled environment. Many world-class runners train partially on treadmills because they keep you on track to hit time-specific kilometer repeats.
  • You can fit your workout in on a time limit without trying to figure out how far to run before you loop back.
  • It’s a safer option than running alone on dark winter evenings after work.
  • You’re surrounded by motivation to get started, continue training, and work hard. Whether the people around you are running, incline walking or strength training, everyone is there working on something. It’s encouraging to know you aren’t alone.

What speed should I run at?

If you already have a running coach who prescribes you weekly workouts, all you’ll have to do is ensure the metric units for pace on the treadmill are the same as those in your workout (i.e.: miles/min vs. km/min). If they aren’t, take a few minutes to re-write your workouts using an app or online running calculator.

If you don’t have a coach, or are following a more generalized plan, you might want to consider using a running app or online run pace calculator to figure out your ideal pace for each workout. Just because you took your long run indoors due to weather, doesn’t mean you should be running any slower or faster.

I particularly like the online running calculator by ‘Run Your Personal Best’ as it offers calculators for running pace, race time predictor, treadmill conversions, as well as a perceived effort chart.

Sunday Setup: Treadmill Training for Runners

What incline should I run at?

Research has shown that setting the treadmill at a 1-2% incline will simulate the "intensity" of outdoor running, making up for the lack of wind resistance experienced running outdoors. It’s beneficial to add some hill training into your weekly run program in addition to focusing on your pace and speed.

What are the benefits of treadmill workouts?

Hill running doubles as speed work without putting as much strain on your body as traditional speed intervals. It’s simple physics: when you run up an incline, you have to work harder to maintain the same pace than you would on flat ground.

Hill running provides advantageous training for your brain. Powering up a steep hill will build your confidence in your running. As with any challenging workout, running at steeper inclines will also train your brain to push through discomfort and maintain the pace on race day.

Hill running improves your aerobic capacity, which will help you stay strong even during those painful and challenging last moments of a race. Most races will have some variation in elevation, so training on hills will prepare you to run up and down hills repeatedly while maintaining at race pace. Hill running will also improve your ability to quickly recover after climbing a hill, which again will help you quickly return to your original pace after running up a hill.

Come back next week for another run-specific training post. If you have any questions about training or running in the meantime, feel free to leave a comment below!

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