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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Why treadmill running (probably) won't kill you this winter.

The treadmill is a swear word to many runners. "Why work out like a hamster" I've heard uttered before. I know, it's not the epic trail that you may run from time to time or a moonlit path in the city, but don't kid yourself. The treadmill can kick your ass- if you let it.

If your like the majority of runners who train mostly alone, keeping honest with workouts can be challenging. There is no incentive, no skin in the game. What if the incentive was not being thrown into the back wall.

Not to mention the excuses we all give ourselves for poor workouts in the winter. .. "oh the cold air is too much too breathe hard " or "the road was so slippery, I'm just glad I didn't trip!". All signs that your run wasn't very productive... but was probably fun.

I'm not trying to be a fun sponge and say that running in the snow and such is bad, but at times it can be counter-productive. Your working so hard not to fall on your ass that your A) utilizing bad running form and B) running slower than your probably supposed to for a given workout.

Also, Heres a Pro- Tip: Literally no one cares if you run outside in sub 20 degree weather. I know, I know, your selfie of your snow beard nearly went viral- but unless your training for the Antartica marathon, everyone will be asking you the same question. Why?

So are you catching my drift, think you want to start doing some workouts on the treadmill? Here are some simple steps to starting.

Option A: Buy a treadmill
I know what your thinking, "Im not sure I can commit to this." Its a big step in a runners life, so lets discuss the most popular and affordable option.

Option B: Join a Gym
The Gym is a very scary place for most runners. It is the shrine of pulsing veins and oily muscles- as well as senior citizen silver sneaker classes. Fear not! Although you may see shirts that read, " Eat Big and leave a huge corpse" or "315 Bench Club", these people do not want to eat you, nor bench press you. They are here to do what you have come to do, and that is workout. Odds are you'll never even compete with them for the same weight room equipment. Here are some unspoken truths of the gym-
1) Every day is Bi's, Tri's, and Chest
2) Heavy Metal means mad gains
3) When someone is chalking their hands, you better pay attention. This person is setting world records.

Other than that you just have to make it to a treadmill without receiving too much ridicule for your tiny shorts and 5k tee shirt. And even if you do, let it fuel the fire! Bring with you a music device preloaded with Rage Against the Machine, Beastie Boys, Naughty by Nature, Cypress Hill, etc. You will have nothing good to look at for the next 30-90 minutes, so get in the zone (unless an attractive women/man gets onto an elliptical thats positioned in front of you). Hopefully after a few sessions you will have found that special treadmill that goes faster than the others. Yes, this is the diamond in the rough- your noble steed that you will ride into the spring race season with. You will tame her, and when you do, your spring PR's will be bountiful.

Listen- you don't have to believe what I say about the treadmill, who am I? Im not even the top runner in the small Buffalo area suburb that I live in. But I can tell you that the people in our area that keep their winter speed work honest by running on the treadmill are kicking my butt right now. So where do you want to be when the spring season rolls around?

** Also, if you are training for a winter race where weather could be an issue, then yes -this post was probably useless to you. Preparing for conditions will be important for your event- so be smart and good luck.

This post was inspired by my good friend "A-List", who is a Buffalo Area runner that has continued to improve his personal records with more than 60% of his training performed on a treadmill. In just 4 years he has taken his marathon time to 2:40 and his 5k to 16:08. Think he hasn't improved on the treadmill? He's the guy that got me to buy into it.