Finding Some “Fun” On The Treadmill

Yesterday’s weather was pretty awful.  I can’t complain.  My poor friends and family really got nailed in the Detroit area and I hope everyone is safe and okay.  About three hours north of there it was just rainy.  All.  Day.  Long.

When you are on vacation, especially on summer vacation this can be a bit of a bummer.  But there are so many things to do in this area, we chose to use it as the perfect time to go exploring in Traverse City.  This kind of meant hanging out in my hometown, which is truly not a bad thing at all!

GlenArbor.2

We did enjoy a beautiful sunset last night.

The first thing I wanted to tackle was getting my morning workout in.  When I am on vacation I try to behave myself for the most part, but I am not one for depravation.  I work out hard most of the time and eat a healthy diet, so when I get the chance to eat fun local food or enjoy delicious family dinners and dessert….and drinks, I of course enjoy myself.  That being said, I kind of bank on those workouts to keep my sanity and feel like I get my daily sweat.

One of my favorite ways to run is in the rain.  But running in heavy downpours is one definite way to make yourself feel miserable.  So we headed to Fit For You gym which happens to sit just above the rink that I grew up skating at.  I love this place because it is clean, quiet, and has just enough cardio equipment.
Treadmill

I am not a huge fan of using the treadmill.  Years ago when I first got back into running, it was the only way I could get myself to log miles.  But once you switch to running outside it can be really hard going back.  Let’s face it, the treadmill (aka dreadmill) can be pretty darn boring.

If you can find a different way to approach your treadmill runs it can actually be a great way to mix up your normal workout routine.  One of my personal favorite ways to run on the treadmill is to get in some interval workouts or HIIT.

The important thing to remember about interval workouts is there isn’t a book of rules.  You can make it your own adventure.  No one says you have to run 2 minutes fast and one minute slow every day.  If your body isn’t feeling it you can do 1 minute fast followed by 2 minutes slow one day and do something completely different the next.  This will help keep your workouts varied and allows you to feel like you are in control when you really don’t want to hop on the machine in the first place.

Just like with any other workout, it is always best to start with a nice warm up.  Whether you do it based on time or mileage I recommend doing a nice easy mile or 10 minutes before diving into your intervals.  This is a great time to mentally prepare yourself for your workout to come.  Determine what ratio your workout will be for the day and then stick with it.  At it’s highest level of intensity it will be tempting to back off, but knowing ahead of time that you will be doing 2 minutes at a 8:06 pace followed by a slow jog will prepare you to stay the course.  Decide now, or before you even start, how long you will be doing your intervals.  Personally I prefer at least 30 minutes, but you will see the benefits if you do a minimum of 20 minutes.  Knowing ahead of time how long you will be pushing yourself will again prepare you for those difficult moments at high intensity.  If you have the time try to finish with a mile or 10 minutes of light jogging before you finish.

Another way that I enjoy doing interval workouts is by doing pyramids.  After a nice warm up I start at a slow pace.  Every minute I increase the speed by one level until I have reached the highest intensity of my workout.  Then I fall back down each minute until I reach my slowest pace.  I then repeat this pattern for my entire workout.  Yesterday I did this for 9 miles.  It worked out perfectly that each mile was about a full pyramid.  As I continued my run this allowed me to check off the pyramids in my head, making it a lot easier to deal with them on the mental level.

Mill3

Workouts like these are so beneficial for you.  Besides beating your workout boredom they have great benefits for your endurance and metabolism.  Adding a workout like this into your weekly routine will have you seeing improvements in your cardiovascular capacity.  This is one of the best ways to improve both your speed and endurance.  By pushing yourself to your upward limits in short bouts you will see overall increases in your fitness level.

The constant rise and fall of your heart rate with a HIIT workout also burns more calories and faster.  Increasing the intensity of your workout also increases your caloric burn.  These intense workouts also tend to keep your metabolism working on overdrive long after you finish.

That of course doesn’t mean you should go ahead and start scarfing down donuts left and right.  I speak from experience…….Just kidding.  We definitely staged this.  We also had a good laugh in the process.

photo 5

A few other thoughts about the treadmill.  In the past the rule for running on the treadmill had been to add 1% incline to your machine to adjust for not running outside.  For any of you who have done this, it is crazy hard.  As someone who runs a lot, I will personally say that every time I tried it, I found it in no way replicated my outdoor running.  The good news is that a lot of research has debunked this theory (yay!).  Instead a much better rule I recently learned was to just add 10% to your workout.  You can either do this with your mileage or your time.  If your plan calls for 8 miles, simply make it 8.8 on the treadmill.  Or if you run for an hour outdoors, just run for an hour and 6 minutes inside.

Happy running!

14 thoughts on “Finding Some “Fun” On The Treadmill

  1. I agree! Steady state treadmill runs are the worst. I always do HIIT or intervals when I run on the tread…I really like the pyramid idea and will have to give it a try soon!

  2. treadmills, ah, yeah, I hate treadmills. But, to be fair, I have only run on a treadmill once in my life! And, it was crazy. Took me a few minutes to feel like I could stay on there. Then, I felt like I had to go as fast as possible. Love being outside though.

    • I am so jealous that you only had to do it once. Being in Chicago I quickly found that the weather will eventually force you inside at some point. I also find them to be crazy weird to run on and when I get off my legs feel wobbly. Yesterday I accidentally dropped my iPhone while I was running and I watched it fly off behind me!

  3. I think that people should remember that the treadmill is a powerful and beneficial tool, just like a weight machine, but it is neither better nor worse than the real thing (running outside). Weight machines are great because they enable you to increase resistance beyond what you would normally be able to, but they require you to move in forced or unnatural patterns. Same with the treadmill. In a place like Chicago, we need other options: hillier, less concrete, less frozen (haha), and in the absence of this, the TM helps! I read on my kindle/ipad on the mill (I’ve read soooooo many classics I can’t tell you!) and sometimes I just pretend that I am running on a track! It is a great tool for visualization!

    • Oh yes this is definitely the helpful part of a treadmill. Today on my 16 miler I realized just how flat Chicago is. I am up here in Michigan and it is super hilly. I almost cried on the way home. We need to get those hills in one way or another. I read Unbroken on my Kindle one winter on the treadmill. Best way to multitask!

  4. Such great tips! I’m going to try a pyramid later this week. 🙂
    I don’t really mind the treadmill, but it can get so boring. Usually I just use it for my speed intervals (which I was able to do yesterday!! YAY!)

    • Yes the treadmill is the perfect place to get those intervals in. The pyramid is my favorite. Sometimes I do them in two minute intervals to make it last longer. I was drenched yesterday when I finished.

  5. HIIT or intervals are the ONLY way I can spend any time on the treadmill, and I can only manage five or so miles before going totally crazy.

    I am similar to you in that I never deprive myself and definitely taste the local flavors whenever I go on vacation!

  6. The “dreadmill” is so boring when compared to the outdoors but this is what I needed. With winter around the corner I’m afraid I will have no choice but to run inside and it’s best to make the most of it.

  7. LOL, great post. The only time I enjoyed the treadmill was in a gym on Guam when it faced a window that overlooked the ocean and rock islands. Somehow the TV’s over the treadmills at the gym that show the Kardashians just dont’ cut the mustard.

  8. Sounds like you’re having a great vacation in spite of the rain 🙂

    I’m such a total outdoor runner that I just don’t let much of anything stop me aside from extreme cold (worse than the -20F I ran last winter) and active lightning. I don’t have a gym membership anymore because it wasn’t getting used …

  9. In some ways I’m really glad that I literally cannot run on a treadmill – my physio banned me from them when I injured my knee a few years ago, and when I made the mistake of not listening to her (just to get a quick 3-minute warm up in), I suffered as a result for almost a month with my injury flaring up again.

    However, saying that, it is in these summer months here in the desert where we’re hitting 45 degrees C on a daily basis, with humidity up around 50 – 70% that I do sometimes wish I could hop on the treadmill and get a quick run in. Unfortunately I usually take a bit of a hiatus during these months (2 months or so) and I get in a bit of cross training on the stationary bike instead!

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