Why are so many people quick to put down or explain why they can’t stand running on a treadmill? I have a few friends who claim they will never run on a treadmill. They claim that when they’re running on the road or in nature, they enjoy being able to take in all the sights and sounds. They also like the camaraderie of a group run that they can’t get with treadmill. I understand these arguments, but I believe that running on treadmill 1-2 times per week is a viable means to supplement your training for any race, even a ½ or full marathon. The question is how to best incorporate use of a treadmill into a marathon training plan? The good news is that Derek LaLonde answers this question and others in his book, “How Not To Hate The Treadmill.”
I recently read Derek’s book and was very impressed with his level of detail into such topics as goal setting, treadmill workouts, smart eating and how to get positive results using a treadmill. This book is one of the most comprehensive resources about Treadmills and Treadmill training. The purpose of the book isn’t to convince you to abandon the roads. Instead, implementing Derek’s suggestions will definitely give any runner a fresh perspective on using a treadmill and integrating this often maligned piece of exercise equipment into their training plan.
As a busy middle aged professional, who travels weekly, I use a treadmill a few times per week in hotel gyms or on days when the Pacific Northwest weather turns wet, cold and is generally unsuitable for outdoor running. Typically, my sessions last 35-45 minutes. I run at a progressively faster pace (6 – 8+) with a steady incline to 2-3 degrees. I like to add 15-20 minutes of conditioning exercises to complete a full hour workout. There’s nothing exciting about what I do on a treadmill. My goal is to simply get in an easy day and avoid taking the day off from running. I have never used the treadmill to complete any kind of speed or tempo runs.
“How Not To Hate The Treadmill” is far more than a listing of treadmill workouts. In fact, Derek doesn’t get into details about any workouts until page 100. Instead he devotes the first three sections of the book to the benefits of using a treadmill, getting motivated, setting goals and creating a positive environment. He describes one of the best things about using treadmill is that it can force you to maintain a certain speed. During tempo or harder lactate training workouts, a treadmill can be set so a runner maintains a target heart rate for prolonged periods. The runner can then focus on breathing and good form without having to continually check heart rate. Also, the runner can use the incline feature to increase one’s heart rate without having to speed up.
The workout portion of the book is very detailed. Each workout is customized to be performed on the treadmill. Examples of some of the workouts discussed include:
Hills – Although not appropriate for those who don’t own their treadmill, Derek discusses how to complete downhill training (very important when training for races like Boston). Details of 6 different hill workouts are provided. My favorite is “Walk the Plank – Incline to Exhaustion.”
Speed Work – Tempo runs and speed ladders are discussed. You can go all out with the Stairway to Heaven workout where you continue to raise the pace by 5 mph every ½ mile until exhaustion
Long Runs, Aerobic workouts & Running Games – If you really want a tough full body workout, try running at tempo pace and get off the treadmill every 5 minutes to complete a set of push-ups, dumbbell squats, pull-ups and other conditioning exercises.
Derek finishes the book with a few sections on how to balance proper nutrition, sleep and staying motivated to train. Finally he gets into great detail about how to properly train using a heart rate monitor. This includes a plan on how to determine your maximum heart rate using a treadmill.
It’s clear that Derek LaLonde is not just very knowledgeable about treadmills, but he’s also well informed about long distance running and proper training methods. He’s been training on a treadmills for 15+ years and clearly enjoys the experience of “pounding the rubber.”
If you’re interested in diversifying your training (something I strongly advise to help avoid injury), then I recommend you purchase, read and implement the strategies discussed in How Not To Hate The Treadmill. The book is available as a downloadable e-book. It’s an easy read. The worksheets are helpful to set goals and the heart rate charts can be printed out for easy reference. I’m always open for new and effective marathon training ideas. How Not To Hate The Treadmill, provides fresh concepts that will help any runner vary their workouts and achieve their goals.
For your convenience, I have included a link to purchase How Not To Hate The Treadmill. You will also notice in the sidebar that there’s a banner ad for this book. Full disclosure…your cost won’t increase in any way if you buy by going through these links, but I will be compensated if you do make a purchase through them.
TREADFLIX – ACTUAL COURSE VIDEOS FOR YOUR TREADMILL
If you’re really interested in something different and unique you really need to try Run Chicago, Run Boston or Run New York. These are 1-2 hour videos taken directly off the courses of each of these world famous marathons. The concept is simple. Download the video onto your iPad, tablet or laptop and then place it in front of the treadmill. Set the treadmill to whatever pace you desire and then play the video. It’s genius.
I’ll admit, I haven’t had the opportunity to try any of the videos yet, but I do have plans to fully try out at least the Chicago and Boston videos because I’ve run both of those marathons.
Following are some screen shots of each product. You can click on each image to be brought to the purchase page.
Pre Covid 19, I had a lot of experience with 600am or 900pm workouts on hotel gym treadmills. Last Summer I decided to purchase my own treadmill to take the quality of my home gym up a notch. I wrote a detailed post about workouts my wife and I now complete with the treadmill, stationary bike, dumbbells and other fitness accessories in our home gym.
I’m updating this post to discuss some workouts & features we most enjoy with our treadmill. I understand that not everyone can afford $1,500+ treadmills, so I did a little digging for inexpensive treadmills. The problem is many are not robust enough to handle regular & long use. You might even consider some to be junk. I completed a little more research and found a very thorough review site that’s run by a young lady across the river in Portland, OR. If your budget is a bit tight you can still pick up a treadmill to use at home without overspending, Spikes & Heels has a great run down of the best budget models.
Usually my treadmill workouts include gradually increasing the treadmill speed up to 7.5 – 8.0, so I can complete 4 – 5 miles within 30 – 40 minutes. I also put the incline at 1.5 to 2.0. To add variety & get me in better shape, I’ve started some actual workouts on the treadmill. These pre-programed workouts include a hill workout which can get up to 9.0+ and 6+ on the incline.
I purchased the Sole F80 treadmill (pictured below).
This is a durable mid range treadmill. Top speed is 12mph & it comes preprogrammed with 5 workouts + a manual mode.
If you’re considering purchasing any kind of treadmill (not just an economical one), I’ve worked with a friend to put together the following buying guide.
The path to successfully running a long distance running event can be filled with ups and downs and there are going to be times when outside conditions, a work schedule, or some other inconvenience is going to mean that you can’t get a daylight training run in. Sure, you can go for a run after dark, but most people prefer to train in high visibility for safety reasons.
One fantastic investment you can make, budget permitting of course, is in a home treadmill. Treadmills can be a perfect addition to a home gym, or perfectly fine as a stand-alone piece of cardio equipment because they allow you 24-hour access for training. Of course though, treadmills come in all shapes and sizes and the price can vary greatly from model to model.
You don’t want to pay a large sum of money for a treadmill that just doesn’t suit your needs. It’s for this reason that a firm grasp of what to look for in a treadmill is important. To help you with your buying decision, here are 10 points to guide you in your treadmill purchase.
Decide on where the treadmill will be placed within your home and measure it carefully. Keep in mind that most treadmills are heavy and once you place them in a given location, it is may be difficult to move it around too much. It should also have additional space on the sides and back for an easy dismount once you’re done with your workout.
The treads on treadmills often vary in length. If you are tall or an experienced runner, you might want to look for a treadmill with a longer deck that can handle your stride.
Treadmills have varying consoles for your vital signs, gadgets and connectivity. Some extra bells and whistles like iPad docks, USB ports or Wi-Fi connectivity are becoming a more prevalent as manufacturers add them to new models they roll out. The best thing to do is choose what features would help you maximize the workout you will be doing.
Since we have established that a treadmill has significant size and weight, you should check whether it would be fully assembled once delivered or will you need to put it together once it arrives. Treadmills can weigh over 100 kilos and with this in mind, assembly would definitely require more than a single person.
Good quality treadmills are often maintenance-free machines. The time spent maintaining the treadmill, such as lubrication, should be used in other important things and not with the machine. Some manufacturers have considered adding a reversible deck so that when one side is worn out, you can turn it over to a new deck.
We have discussed earlier that when you are searching for a treadmill, you should make sure that it requires the least amount of maintenance possible. Even though this is so, a treadmill still contains electronic parts that may need some maintenance at some point and being a major investment, it would be best to know what warranty comes with the unit.
Apply the acronym R.U.N.
Review the price – Keep in mind your budget. Investing your money’s worth is important and there are a lot of great investments out there.
Understand your needs – are you going to use it for power walks or running? Look at the features offered by each unit and choose which one gives you the workout you need.
Never settle for less – the expensive cost of an item does not always equate to a good buy. Inspect the equipment carefully and try it out.
This feature increases the intensity of your training without the need to increase the speed of the treadmill. It is a good feature for building leg strength for runners. Some lower priced models have only 3 levels of manual incline while larger models can give up to 20 levels of electronic incline.
You can use your goals as a determining factor for your treadmill purchase. Treadmills for running will often have speed capacity two times that of walking treadmills. SO be sure to check the maximum speed capacity before buying.
Some treadmills have programs which assists in your training goals. The configurations of the training programs can vary from brand to brand. If you are the type of runner who wants to try out these programs, search for this under its specifications when you are browsing for a treadmill in the store or online.
Purchasing a treadmill can be a hefty investment and getting the best workout from what you’ve spent is the main goal. Take your time and do some research about the treadmill that you would like. This will help you acquire the right treadmill the first time.
Good luck with your treadmill training. Don’t forget that alternatives to treadmills include stationary bikes, eliptical, stair master and rowing machines. I use all of these regularly to give my legs, ankles and knees a break from the pounding of running. This is especially important during marathon training when my mileage is up to 50+ per week.