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FLPT triathlete Garen Riedel blogs about running on the "dreadmill" and how he breaks up the time with hill workouts.

Posted in Blog, Injury Prevention, News, Performance Enhancement, Running, Triathlon.

March 22nd, 2013

Passing Time on the “Dreadmill”

So… the NY1 weatherman predicted 63 and sunny and somehow it is 19 and snow/hail/raining sideways with 8” of mush accumulated at every street corner (only those folks who live in NYC can really appreciate this phenomenon) and you have a run workout planned. What are you going to do?

I’d like to think most of the time I am the US Postal Service when it comes to dedication to outdoor run workouts: Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays (Garen) from the swift completion of (Central Park loops). But after running through Hurricane Irene and Hurricane Sandy and countless snowstorms, I have learned that that might have not been the brightest idea. Plus it is a known fact that you never seem to hit your training targets when you are worried about your fingers freezing off or a tree toppling on you mid stride. I have learned that there comes a point where you just have to bail on an outdoor workout. So instead of heading to the comforts of your couch for Law and Order SVU reruns, it’s time to bite the bullet and take your training indoors, i.e. make a date with the infamous “dreadmill”.

First and foremost, I want to make it adamantly clear that I hate, haaaaaate the treadmill. I can think of no worse of a torture device. I have no problem kicking off mile after mile outdoors, but put me on a treadmill for 10 minutes, and I feel as though I have just run a marathon. I am convinced that time actually slows down when you step on the belt.

To overcome the sheer agony of indoor running, I used to have a competition with myself where at lunch time I would run 5 miles on the treadmill. The premise was simple: if I ran the distance under 30 minutess, I won. If I was any slower, the treadmill won. I kept this up for about six months and ended up 35-42-2. (The 2 represent the two times the treadmill actually broke while running. Needless to say my gym, who will remain unnamed, was less than enthused. In retrospect I really should chalk these up as wins for me.)

Looking back on these runs years ago, I now realize what a terrible idea this was. I highly recommend against partaking in this challenge. (This is far too much tempo-ish paced running and led to some bad injuries.) However the sense of competition and drive to continually try to beat the damn machine certainly broke up the monotony of staring at the wall for 30 minutes. Plus there is nothing like beating an inanimate object to boost your self-esteem.

Nowadays when the weather doesn’t cooperate I like to break up treadmill workouts with hill repeats. Something along the line to 3 mins at 5% grade, followed by 1-2 min recovery, repeated 6-10 times. These tough intervals help to make the time fly by. Alternatively you can do intervals based on pace rather than incline. Just remember that running on a flat treadmill is a lot easier than running on flat terrain outdoors. That said, it’s good to crank up the pace from time to time to work on turnover. Plus, it’s always fun to knock out a mile repeat on record pace while everyone at the gym stares at you like a crazy person.

Incline and pace intervals seem to help me avoid staring at the clock while running indoors. And they provide a solid effort workout too.

What works for you? How do you pass the time when you get stuck on the treadmill?

Finish Line PT is sponsoring local elite triathlete Garen Riedel this year in his quest to return to the Ironman World Championship in Kona. In 2012, Garen was the top New York finisher at the Ironman U.S. Championship in New York City, finishing 28th overall — the 5th overall amateur and 2nd in his age group.

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