Saturday, February 13, 2010

Using the Treadmill as a Tool

Something Matt said on his podcast resonated with me as I tried to figure out how I was going to get Friday's run in. Friday's run called for 25 minutes in zone 2 on slightly uphill terrain and then run back for 25 minutes in zone 4 on what should be slightly downhill terrain. There was still a good deal of snow and ice on the ground from Wednesday's storm. The combination of the 25 at a fast clip, the ice, and the fact that it's still dark out in the morning, forced my run inside to the gym.

This is where Matt's message comes in. Matt was also forced inside due to record snowfall in Washington, D.C. He said that rather than viewing the treadmill as the "treadmill" (or "hamster wheel" as I sometimes call it), view it as a tool. I think most of us will agree that running on the treadmill at the same pace and incline is quite boring (even with TV). However, increasing/decreasing the speed and/or incline on the treadmill can result in quite the productive run. So with an open mind, I went to the gym knowing exactly how I was going to simulate my run. I set the treadmill's incline to 1.5 to simulate the slightly up-hill terrain and its speed to about an 8:50 pace. even though I was inside, I wore my Garmin to monitor my heart rate. For the first 25 minutes, the pace felt nice and comfortable and my Garmin confirmed that I was consistently in zone 2. After 25 minutes, I dropped the treadmill's incline to 0.5 to simulate the slightly downhill terrain and cranked up the speed to a 7:30 pace. This was a nice hard pace with my heart rate in the mid to upper 170s for the full 25 minutes. I cooled down and headed home pleased with the effort. Total mileage (based on the treadmill display) was 6 miles in 51:55.

I don't think I could do long, slow, distance on the treadmill but if there's a specific workout that I need to do, and conditions preclude me from getting it done outside, I know the treadmill can produce some decent results.

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