Having an accessible treadmill is pretty much the best perk about having an apartment other than not having to mow our yard.
There are differing opinions about treadmills. Some say it's bad to run on a treadmill; others say it's fine. I fall somewhere in the middle. I think a treadmill can be a valuable tool if you use it right. Following are a few tips I've learned from my hours on the treadmill, and at the end of this post I've put a 50-minute treadmill workout that I created based on this Pinterest pin. I used the original workout as a base and tested it until I found the right speeds to get to a 10-minute/mile average for 5 miles total in 50 minutes. (The original pin was a bit slower than I wanted to do.)
1. Up the grade
I always always always set my treadmill to at least a 1.0 incline, but it's usually more like 1.5 or 2.0. There are two main reasons for this: 1) Setting an incline will help to simulate outdoor running. When you run through a neighborhood there will be natural hills, and you want to try to train your legs for that as best you can. The outside ground is not as flat as a treadmill at 0.0. 2) Increasing the grade is a great way to bring up your heart rate even if you're going slower. If you aren't able to run at a 6.0 pace, slow it down but increase the incline as you do so. It will also help tone your calves, which is always a plus in my book.
2. Increase the speed
I like a treadmill because it forces me to run at a certain speed. Sometimes I feel like I'm working harder to stay at a certain pace on a treadmill than I would be to keep that same pace outside, and then when I run outside I feel like I'm flying!
Don't be afraid to increase the speed and see what happens. You've got the timer right there. I like to tell myself, "You can do anything for 40 seconds." And it's true. Certainly you can sprint for 40 seconds, so use the treadmill to force you to run at a pace you might not think you could otherwise, just for 30 seconds to a minute at a time.
3. Find something fun to watch on TV
For me, "something fun" is sports. The Australian Open is on right now, and when I got to the gym yesterday, the first thing I did was turn on ESPN. The time flew by (relatively speaking) because I got interested in the match and stopped watching the clock every 30 seconds.
Now, I know professional tennis isn't everyone's box of crayons, but take advantage of the fact that you have a TV available and find something to watch! Sometimes I just turn it to CMT and watch country music videos. It really does make it more fun, especially when you find something you can really get into. Plus, it's nice for me because we don't have cable, so I get to watch channels I wouldn't normally be able to.
4. Run Outside When you Can
At the end of the day, there is no substitute for a good outdoor run. You need to train in the elements--whether it be wind, humidity, heat, cold, or rain--and it's not like you can pay someone to stand in front of you and pelt you with water like rain. Okay, you could pay someone to do that, but that would be a ridiculous waste of money.
One thing I will add is that when I finally do go for an outside run after doing treadmill duty for a few weeks, my knees start hurting around mile 3 or 4. I think the treadmill is easier on your knees than the pavement is. That's probably why you're not supposed to only run on treadmills.
I will admit that running on a treadmill gets boring, and I wish I could get outside more. But right now it's just not possible, and I have realized that the treadmill doesn't have to be terrible.
The best thing I've found to make running on a treadmill interesting is to find different workout plans, like the one I have here. It really does make the time go so much faster, because instead of thinking about time in terms of 50 minutes, you think about it 3 minutes at a time.
This particular plan is a type of fartlek run that involves jogging, running, and sprinting with a few different inclines mixed in. I just ran this yesterday to make sure I did the math right, and I ran 5 miles in almost exactly 50 minutes (49:50). Check it out and let me know what you think!
Do you run on a treadmill?
*Find me on Pinterest and see what other fitness tips I've been pinning!