Tuesday, February 15, 2011

On the Treadmill

I think I will always prefer running outside.  I enjoy finding new paths to run and basically getting familiar with my surroundings in an intimate way.   You can only achieve that on foot.  But since I joined the gym, I have been making use of the treadmill (and the exercise bike but that's another post).  Initially I thought I would really hate the treadmill--you know, running (sometimes fast) but going nowhere.  It turns out that there are some really cool things about the treadmill.

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First of all, it allows me to run.  This winter has just been brutal and some days I can't go out for a run due to ice or other terrible conditions.  Some days I just don't want to deal with the cold (in another post, I'll give a rundown of my cold weather running gear).  It was a nice surprise to find out that whether I'm running outside or on the treadmill, I just really like to run.  And since I'm in the gym lifting weights three times a week anyway, I've been running more now than in the warmer months.  I finish lifting and then I run for 20-25 minutes--I don't have to carve out another special time to go for a run.  

Secondly, the treadmill keeps track of my stats:  how far I've run, how many calories I've burned, etc. and that's really cool.  While I use www.mapmyrun.com to tell me how many miles I cover on a given run, that's the only information I really know when I run outside (since I have not yet invested in a GPS/heart rate monitor watch).  It's interesting to know exactly when I hit 2 miles or to push myself to break 300 calories.  

I don't have any specific mileage goals but during the warmer months I would run about 6 or 7 miles for my long run and 2-3 for my short. Because of the treadmill, I can still keep my mileage up and also it encourages me to keep better track of my miles (I write everything down right on my NROL4W log sheets).  I had always struggled in terms of keeping a training log for my running and while jotting it down on my log sheets is not formal or systemized, I still have a better idea of what I'm doing and how to improve.  

Still, I cannot do a long run on the treadmill.  I get bored far too easily and then I get antsy.  So I've been doing intervals and I have to say, this is a really fun way to use the treadmill.  I enjoy trying different interval combinations.  Here's a site I found with lots of options.  Here is an example of something I've been doing recently which I call 1/2/3/4/recover.

One minute at effort level 1 (an easy pace--you can talk easily, maybe even sing)
One minute at effort level 2
One minute at effort level 3
One minute at effort level 4 (basically sprinting)
One minute to walk it off and almost completely recover

There are many ways to do intervals.  You could do hill intervals by changing the incline (which I haven't done yet but look forward to doing).  The combinations and possibilities seem to be endless.  

Basically, intervals keep it interesting for me.  And It doesn't take an hour--after about 20 minutes, I've worked up a sweat and I'm ready to go home and shower.   I just couldn't do an hour on the treadmill--the thought of it is even too much for me.  But intervals are a quick, effective and fun way to use the treadmill.  I may even continue to use it during the warmer months just because, like I said, I'm at the gym anyway.  

Oh, by the way, intervals that I control (because some of the treadmills have preset interval programs) are made possible by the Gymboss interval timer, one of the best fitness purchases I have ever made.  

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