We all know that training on a treadmill can sometimes become quite monotonous, especially during the winter when we have less chance to break the routine with a run outdoors. No one likes running on icy roads or pavements made slippery with rain or wet leaves.
If you are training for an important race, you need to put the hours in. However, nothing says you cannot have run with your treadmill workouts! Changing things up can help you to improve your speed and stamina, while keeping boredom to a minimum.
Workout number one: Boil the Frog.
According to an old saying, if you put a frog into boiling water it will jump straight out again. But if you put the frog in warm water and gradually raise the temperature, it will never notice the increase in temperature. This may have been proven to be wrong in the real world, but we can still apply it to your treadmill workout.
Start with an easy comfortable pace for the first ten minutes, then once warmed up, step up the pace by five to ten seconds per mile every three minutes. You will gradually up your speed over the duration of your run without it feeling overly taxing. To make it more challenging, you can also slowly increase the incline by half a percent at the same time too.
As you near the end of your workout, gradually decrease your speed and incline until you are back to your starting incline and easy pace you used during your warm up.
Workout number two: The Power Hour.
You have heard of Fartlek training right? This workout uses the same principles as the ‘speed play’ style of training. You will need to sort out a one hour playlist of music for your workout. Each song or piece of music should be one minute long, and you alternate an upbeat fast piece of music with a slower more relaxed piece with an even beat.
After your warm up, you will run your hour in time with your music, alternating between fast and slow paces. You have the option of running as fast as you like during your fast paced tracks knowing that it will only be for one minute maximum before you drop the intensity down for the next minute.
This is a great way to train to get you used to alternating your pace, as you will need to do this in an open race situation. The frequent change in music choice will also boost your enthusiasm and motivation for running while listening to your favourite tracks.
Workout number three: iPod Roulette.
This is probably the most challenging of the three workouts listed here, and this is a great workout for those of you who are a little short of time, or prefer to run fast during your treadmill sessions.
Load your iPod (or other music player) with around ten of your most favourite songs. Five should be upbeat, high intensity songs that really motivate you to run fast, and the other five should be a more mellow choice with a comfortable running beat/pace.
After a ten minute warm-up, set your iPod to shuffle or random and go for it! Run fast during your high intensity tracks, and slower during your mellow songs. Your body and mind will not be expecting what is coming next, so you could find yourself running fast for three songs in a row – and you will have to pace yourself accordingly.
The hidden benefit of this workout is how it teaches your brain to cope with and accept uncertainty. In a real life race you will never know exactly what will happen, so when a competitor suddenly changes pace to power past you, it will be easier for your to react and keep up, and to eventually power past them further down the line.
So, when you are confined to long hours working out on a treadmill, use these three workouts to keep it interesting, and to challenge your mind and body in preparation for your next big race or marathon.