I’ve been doing a lot of treadmill running lately. Where Ben and I are living right now is not the most runner friendly area, and I literally have to drive right by the gym on the way home from work, so that’s just kind of the way it is. Initially, I was worried that this would be a bad thing. I’d be bored, or I wouldn’t be challenged enough. But I’m here to tell you that I’ve changed my tune. I know, I know, you’re thinking I’m crazy. Who likes the dreadmill? Who wouldn’t rather be outside? Now, I’m not saying I prefer the treadmill–treadmill running will never give me the same satisfaction as the sights, sounds, and variety of outdoor running. However, for where I am at in life right now and what I’m trying to achieve in my running, it’s totally working for me, and here’s why.
You’re (relatively) safe on the treadmill. You won’t get hit by a car, chased by dogs, mugged, assaulted, or kidnapped. You won’t slip on ice. You won’t get a sunburn. The temperature is moderate, so you don’t have to worry about heat stroke. Yeah, you could still fall off the damn machine or roll an ankle or something, but overall, you’re safer on the treadmill.
You can watch Netflix. Or read a book or a magazine. I know if I put on a marathon of The Walking Dead, I could run on the treadmill for hours. As long as I’m entertained, I’m less likely to get bored and quit, or start focusing on all the little niggles that discourage me and make me want to stop running. This may come back and bite me in the ass when it’s actually time to run a half marathon outside with no distractions, but for right now, it’s working for me. My gym has wi-fi, so I can just load up my Netflix queue and the minutes whiz by.
Speed work is simpler because you can nail your paces. I find it nearly impossible to do speed work without the treadmill because I don’t have a Garmin, ergo I have no idea how fast I’m going in the moment. And even with a Garmin, you have to be constantly looking at your wrist, or adjusting your speed up and down every time your watch beeps. With the treadmill, you can just set your pace and go, and know exactly how fast you’re going.
It trains you to keep a consistent pace. I don’t know about you, but when I run on the road or trail, my paces are all over the place. Uphills make me slow down, downhills make me speed up. If I see another runner, I might speed up to try to look good in front of him/her (you know you do too!). But the treadmill maintains the same pace for the duration of my run, forcing me to run at the same pace. This will hopefully help me gain the muscle memory to run at a consistent pace when I get back out on the road.
You can adjust elevation. This is great for many reasons. If you live in a flat area, the treadmill can help you simulate at least uphills, and if you’ve got a nice one with negative elevation, downhills too. Conversely, if you live in a really hilly area, the treadmill can allow you to get some easy, flat, recovery miles in.
These are just a few of the reasons why I’m totally digging the treadmill right now. I’m sure I’ll think of others as I bang out my training miles. And I’m also sure I’ll also come up with a list of reasons why the treadmill IS the worst before this is all over…
Do you like or hate running on the treadmill? Why?
What’s the longest treadmill run you’ve ever done?