Welcome to the next step in our series for runners! By now you have surely taken that all-important first step on an outdoor track. However, sooner or later, no matter how ideal your home town's climate may be, (yes, even you San Diego), weather may dictate that you come indoors to stay on schedule. (Shall I share the story of my husband frantically driving through Hurricane Sandy to find me a gym with power? In short, it was to be my last training run before the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon, and my Coast to Coast Race Challenge could not be denied...) The treadmill can be imposing to beginners and boring to veterans, but is a vital and useful tool in your training arsenal.
Some benefits are:
- Your pacing is precise and constant; time and speed are calibrated for you.
- Today's 4.4 miles per hour will be tomorrow's, without the need to factor in wind resistance or extremes of temperature.
- Many treadmill systems incorporate heart rate functions for easy monitoring.
- Advanced treadmills may have pre-set programs for you to follow, and some top-of-the-line models will allow you to sync with Google Maps to run your specific race course as part of your training. Treadmill technology is set to really take off in the next couple of years (sorry for the pun), and dual belts and i-gadgets will become more commonplace in gyms across the country.
- Distractions, such as TV, movies or even blogging may pass your workout time more quickly.
- Today's treadmills have far better shock absorption than they once did. This is a softer surface to run on than asphalt OR your track. If joint protection is a consideration, the treadmill is your friend.
- Your hydration and fueling is always on hand, without having to load up like a pack mule!
- Most importantly, NEVER get on or off a moving belt. Ever. Straddle the belt as you adjust settings, begin or end your workout. This means you too pros! I've seen enough craziness to produce an entire segment of America's Funniest Home Videos; simply put, it's a dangerous risk you don't need to take.
- Remember, everyone has had their "first" on a treadmill, and model types can vary widely. Take the time, on a stationary machine, to look over its functions, and ask for help (or a spot) if you are unsure. Before long, you'll "own it"!
- Realize that running on a treadmill will not require the same energy or muscle loading as compared to your run on the race course. The belt will actually assist in the swing or flexion of the knee (it "pulls" your weight bearing leg backwards), making this an overall easier workout. This is ideal for beginners, but as confidence and conditioning grow, it is advised to slowly adjust the treadmill incline to compensate; most treadmills will adjust at a .5% rate, and 1 to 2% would be an end goal. Please remember; even a seemingly minuscule incline (1%) will add significant stretch to your Achilles and hamstring tendons. Always progress slowly over time, especially if you are prone to injury of these soft tissues.
* If you suffer from lower back issues, you may want to start at a .5% incline to avoid hyperextension during your treadmill run.
** Most machines will not calculate the additional exertion from incline running; factor this into your training.
To fight the dreaded treadmill boredom, follow my Top PT Tip:
Perfect your form, and first and foremost, eliminate vertical motion!
Please return next Tuesday for another Top PT Tip- Take to the Trail. Until then,
"You can run. You can run. You can run."
Train Like a Princess and keep in step!!
Step 1~ Does the Shoe Fit?
Step 2~ Run-Walk-Run or Couch-to-5K
Step 3~ Get on Track!
Step 4~ Treadmill or Dreadmill?
Step 5~ Happy Trails
ABOUT DIDI MARIE
A longstanding (code for elder) physical therapist to professional athletes and weekend warriors on both coasts, Didi is a graduate of New York University. After over 30 years in sports medicine practice, she has decided to finally practice what she has preached by running her first half marathon at age 53. Didi therefore knows every excuse in the book...
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