No one, I mean no one, truly likes the treadmill. But, unless you live in the PNW or California outdoor running isn’t a year round sport. There are seasons where outside isn’t always feasible and doesn’t always make sense to do. Add in factors like unlit running trails, safety and being tired of the cold and the treadmill is the only thing salvaging some runs.
This winter I learned to embrace the treadmill. Particularly with speed work. When I’m trying to hit truly hard (for me) paces it’s nice to just set the treadmill to that speed and go. No thinking involved. Especially appealing if I’m already mentally tired from work and life.
Set, (try to) forget it and zone out. And with the replacement of room temperature instead of the brutal cold, I’m not stopping every couple of minutes to blow my nose. It also holds my water for me and for days when my stomach is angry, there’s a bathroom a few feet away.
It is really, really boring but the treadmill has massive advantages. Skipping a run or slipping and falling on ice is far less ideal than being bored. And when I’m getting over a cold (a seasonal occurrence because I live in New York and am constantly around germy people), running out in the cold is just miserable/impossible.
How do I beat the boredom? The first key ingredient is breaking out my best of the best playlist, the one I only use for races and intimidating workouts. This keeps me distracted and happy. When I’m bored of that I think about the temperature outside and how miserable that is, I’m grateful to be indoors sweating it out inside of unable to feel my hands, feet and face. Another key ingredient is having a workout to do. Even if it’s just a warm up and then some uptempo work or varying easy-ish paces. It breaks it up and instead of 11 miles, it’s a warm up and then 1.25 miles, quick rest, another 1.25 miles, etc.
On a bitterly cold day, I’d much rather be sweating it out than slipping and sliding on snow and ice. I’m not an all-weather runner and you’ll likely never see me out there with microspikes on my running shoes. That’s perfectly okay. I’ll run in some brutal weather on occasion, but I also know that sometimes a run is simply going to be better and I’ll go longer if I’m indoors.
Even though it’s now spring, I’ve found the treadmill to be a powerful tool in my training. It makes speedwork mentally easier, it helps me test paces that I may not be able to hit on my own and gives me easy access to hills without a trek up to the park.
When do you use the treadmill instead of hitting the roads? What conditions make you stay inside?