I Hate the Dreadmill! But…

I’m an optimist by nature. Where people see challenge, I see opportunity. Where people see the ugly in the world, I choose to focus on the beauty. Deep inside I know that there is more good than bad, and that we are lucky to be alive at this point and time in history, and that the next generation will be better than ours. BUT, I cannot seem to embrace the treadmill. Running and going nowhere just doesn’t appeal to me. I’ll run in rain, snow, heat, ANYTHING to avoid it. When it comes to the treadmill, I am a hater and, dare I say, a pessimist. Yuck!

So, when one of my followers asked me if I thought they could train, almost exclusively, on a treadmill, and be effective, I had to put that all aside and be objective. As much as I hate the dreadmill, it is still a great tool that should be in any runner’s toolbox. The reason that I say that, is that there are many pros to the treadmill despite the boredom and monotony of feeling like a hamster on a wheel, and there are ways to cope with the negatives, such as listening to music, watching TV, or varying your workout. Let’s dive into those positives.

Convenience – If you have a treadmill in your home, or at a hotel where you are staying, it definitely makes it easy to squeeze a run in no matter the time of day. And if you are at the gym, you can easily do cardio and cross train. I often use the treadmill when I travel if I don’t have a lot of free time and need to sneak in a run.

Safety – As the days get shorter, more of us runners are forced to run in the dark, which can be dangerous for many reasons. We struggle to see the terrain which can cause falls, and drivers struggle to see us! And, unfortunately, women have the added risk of assault during their solo runs as well. All of these risks are mitigated via the treadmill.

Control of Your Workout – When running on a treadmill, you can control your pace, your incline, and your decline. You literally can cater a workout to your specific needs and ensure that you hit it all by just pushing buttons.

Control of Your Climate – Whether it’s hot outside or cold outside, rainy or sunny, you can control the climate and get your run in. Trust me, I understand that eliminating the elements can actually be a con, especially when you go to race and the weather is bad, but a question that someone asked me regarding training with lupus got me doing some research and really opened my eyes to something. Many illnesses, including lupus, are impacted by heat, uv rays, cold, etc. And people that are training through these issues can really benefit from climate control. So instead of losing valuable training miles due to variables that are out of their control, the treadmill is very often the perfect solution for them.

Despite the fact that I prefer the trails and all of the beauty that they possess, my conclusion is that you can train, almost exclusively, on a treadmill, and achieve your running goals. My opinion is that, just like any training plan, you need to build your workouts with intention. Every run should have a purpose with clear goals, and you should run consistently, ensuring that you are building your cardiovascular fitness. If your race has uphills and downhills, replicate those during some of your sessions. And while the treadmill will never replicate all of the variety of running outdoors, you can achieve a high level of fitness using one, and show up on race day with confidence.

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2 Replies to “I Hate the Dreadmill! But…”

  1. Thanks Joe. This is encouraging. How does one work on running form on the treadmill? I joined a training club for my first half marathon. The coaches instructed us to try to get our heels close to our gluts. All my trainings as outside and it seemed doable. On the treadmill, it seems difficult to do so unless I am runn very fast and then it seems to happen naturally without effort. However, at the slow and easy pace, not so much. Advice?

    1. Rose, heels to glutes seems like it is a form that is more inclined towards higher speeds. When I’m running an easy pace, my heels normally won’t kick back that high. That being said, if you want to work on form at slower speeds, it takes concentration to focus on what you are trying to achieve with your body. So my opinion would be to try and stay cognizant of what you are doing as you are doing it. When I work on form, it’s almost always more of a battle of my mind rather than my body, because I am more inclined to revert back to some bad habits. So I use specific sessions to work only on form. I hope this helps. Peace. Joe

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