Friday, February 25, 2011

The Treadmill Chronicles: Favorite workouts

This is a guest-series by Mer. Happy Birthday Mer! I wish I were with you in Mammoth right now for a day of skiing and carrot cake!

 As I said in my first installment of the Chronicles, one of my favorite ways to pass the time while pounding away at the treadmill is the run intervals. I usually run speed intervals to increase my endurance since not even a faithful treadmill-er like myself can run more than about 5 or 6 miles on the thing before my feet catch on fire. [Editor's note - sorry about the picture...I just couldn't resist.] 
Most runners will use an outdoor track for their intervals, so this is a great way to get the most out of the time you spend indoors. Below I have noted what speeds I run at for exactly how long – obviously everyone is different, but you can use this as a guide to take the guess-work out of your workout.  

Since I have never been formally coached in running, I tend to be a bit more relaxed about my workouts. When I’m training for a half-marathon I do long runs and easy runs, then I try to get one of these workouts in at least once a week. I train better when I focus on the amount of minutes I need to run rather than the distance. Try it out, you might even feel like you can run further than you planned!  

Workout #1: Speed intervals
In parentheses are the treadmill speeds I usually run at. Adjust them according to your pace. The jog should be pretty moderate, the ”run” should be difficult to sustain or difficult to talk if you were running with someone, and the “sprint” should be about 80 or 90% of your max.

Minute 0 – 2: warm up, brisk walk (3.5 to 3.7)
Minutes 2-4: jog (5.7)
Minutes 4-5: run (6.3)
Minutes 5-6: sprint (6.7)
Minutes 6-8: run (6.3)
Minutes 8-10: (jog 5.7)

Repeat pattern two or three times to complete your workout.

Workout #2: Hill intervals
For treadmill hills, adjust the incline while maintaining a constant speed. It should feel pretty moderate until you reach incline level 6 or 7. Aim to be to about 80% of your max at level 8.  Remember: it’s supposed to be HARD!

Warm up: run 1 mile at an easy pace
Minute 0 - 2: brisk walk (3.5 to 3.7)
Minutes 2 - 3: moderate jog (5.5 - 6.0, maintain speed throughout) at incline level 2
Minute 3 - 4: Incline level 3
Minute 4 - 5: Incline level 4
Minute 5 - 6 : Incline level 5
Minute 6 - 7: Incline level 6
Minute 7 - 8: Incline level 7
Minute 8 - 9: Incline level 8
Minute 9 - 10: walk at Incline level 8

Stair step down in the same pattern (i.e. level 7, level 6, level 5, etc.).  If you feel too winded, move to half intervals and walk for 30 seconds on the halves (walk from 10:00 to 10:30 at incline level 7.5, run from 10:30 to 11:00 at incline level 7, etc.)

Repeat pattern twice, or if you are just starting hill intervals and this seems like a bit much, just run another mile or two on incline level 1 (or 0.5).  

NOTE: if you are using the treadmill to train for an outdoor race, you should always run with it set at at least incline level 0.5 or 1 to simulate the irregularities you find outdoors such as tree roots, slight changes in elevation, and general irregularities in terrain.  

Editor’s Note on Mer's Note: Coach George has different opinions on this – he's anti-inclining the treadmill and says: Please remember that treadmills were created by a madman who was not hugged enough as a child and whose parents never let him play outside (true story....I'd never make up something like that just to make a point). Do not become a slave to the contrivance of his warped mind.

I totally agree with the warped-mind theory...and I don’t really have an opinion on the incline-debate, since I avoid treadmills like I avoid mayonnaise, the Metro, and crowded sidewalks.  

Go here to read more from Mer - she's the Reno Day Trips Examiner!