The short and cold days of winter are here, and so are indoor training days. Yes, there are those who will tell you to just “harden up” and get out there in any kind of weather, or those who say, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only weak minds and poor equipment.” More power to them, but there’s nothing wrong with getting in a good workout indoors, especially if it means the difference getting in a run and skipping your run altogether.
Here’s the lowdown on getting started with treadmill training this winter. It’s not just the time spent running that is useful for your training. There are some specific tasks you can achieve on the treadmill more easily and sometimes more effectively than on the road or trail.
1. Start Drinking
A treadmill run is a great time to practice hydration and nutrition strategies. Experiment with new sports drinks to see how they affect your stomach. Try different pre-workout snacks and foods.
One advantage of doing this on a treadmill is that you won’t be miles from home if your drink or snack doesn’t agree with you. If you are training for events in hot climates, you can also start training yourself to consume more fluids or crank up the heat to start the acclimatization process. Keep in mind, however, that training for fitness comes first, and goals like heat acclimatization are lower priorities.
2. Get More From Less
You can design the perfect training course on a treadmill. You can enhance the specificity of your training, and get more done in less time, by performing outstanding ‘hill’ workouts by setting the treadmill inclination at challenging levels and setting training paces with great precision. You can do ample amounts of work at a goal race pace, for example, without ever having to worry about whether you are straying from your desired speed.
Timothy Olsen, former winner of the Western States Endurance Race, works with CTS Coach Jason Koop. He frequently does his hard interval training on a treadmill at the YMCA because it enables him to do his workout in a time-efficient manner and get done in time to pick up his son.
3. Crank it Up
It is much easier to run at very high speeds on a treadmill compared to the track, road or trail. In open-air situations during high-speed intervals, a significant fraction of energy which could be used for dynamic movement is instead ‘wasted’ on overcoming the slowing effects of air molecules. The finding that higher top speeds can be attained on a treadmill rather then the track means it’s time to hop on the treadmill to improve your leg speed.
4. Break ‘em In
As the seasons begin to change it may also be time to break in those new running shoes. A great place to start is on the treadmill. When breaking in your new shoes, it is best to start out with a few shorter runs to prevent blisters and hot spots.
As you wear your shoes more often, you will find the padded inserts begin to mold to your foot for the best fit and most support. Because many runners are far away from their goal events, winter can also be a good time to break in 3-4 pairs of shoes at the same time. This way you can transition into “new” running shoes during the height of your training season without having to spend time breaking them in then.
5. Strap it on
If you have not been training with by heart rate, the treadmill is a great place to start. The best way to begin is to warm up thoroughly and then test yourself to determine your average heart rate for a one-mile maximum effort. From this maximum sustainable heart rate, you can establish a few training intensities to focus on for future workouts.
For ultrarunners, perceived exertion is going to be a more valuable gauge for training intensity, but you can use heart rate to observe the correlation between pace, perceived exertion, and heart rate.
Whether you’re training to compete or exercising to reduce your risks for heart disease, high blood pressure, certain cancers, diabetes and osteoporosis; it’s important to stay active year round. There are tons of challenging, self-fulfilling activities you can do to incorporate a successful winter with a year-round training plan.
Lindsay Hyman is a Senior Coach for Carmichael Training Systems, Inc. (CTS) who has competed at the US National Triathlon Championships and ITU Triathlon World Championships. To find out what CTS can do for you, please visit www.trainright.com.