Why I Still (Sometimes) Run On a Treadmill—And You Should Too

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Purists might balk at the idea of using a treadmill, especially once they discover that I have been running for 20 years. However, I turn to the treadmill for a number of reasons and I happen to be pretty used to the mind-numbing torture.

I have a great setup with a smart television that gives me access to inspirational running content on YouTube and a very loud Bluetooth stereo system that allows me to zone out and listen to music.

There are four main reasons I run on the treadmill:

  • Convenience. I realize that not everyone has a personal treadmill, but for those that do, the convenience factor cannot be beat. I live in a community that has no road shoulders so I often drive 15 minutes to get to the nearest place to safely run. If I am short on time, the treadmill always wins.
  • Recovery runs. Recovery runs are best when they are controlled. If I know I will have trouble keeping a pace outdoors due to lack of willpower, I can hop on the treadmill and let it do the work for me.
  • Weather. If it is hot, cold, raining, snowing, icy, or flooded, I have zero excuses to get it done. I often run outdoors in those conditions (really, just the heat is terrible in my opinion), but I prefer to have a comfortable backup if possible. If it is what keeps me consistent, so be it!
  • Safety. I run alone a lot. And in the winter time, I often don’t have much other option than running in the dark because the days are so short. Sometimes it just makes more sense to not worry that the boogeyman will get me.

The treadmill doesn’t have to be boring. Aside from keeping distracted with television, movies, inspirational content, music, podcasts, etc., I also like to vary my workouts on the treadmill to keep it interesting.

There is nothing worse than a 45-minute run going the same pace the entire time. So I do a couple of key workouts to keep it interesting.

  • Speedwork. Speedwork on the treadmill arguably feels a bit like cheating because the belt is moving for you. But it also can be really a FANTASTIC way to pass the time on the treadmill because you are constantly switching up your pace from fast to recovery.
  • Progressive runs. I do most of my treadmill runs this way even if they are to be steady state runs. It helps to keep the monotony down of moving my legs at the exact same tempo for however many minutes I’ve decided to run. The cool thing about progressive runs is that you can make tiny tweaks like a 1/10th of a mile per hour faster every 2 miles or ½ a mile per hour every 1 mile.
  • Striders. This is a bit like throwing in speedwork every mile, but sometimes I will throw a set of striders in every mile or two just to shake things up. It can be for 100 meters, 30 seconds, or whatever you choose. The point is to break up the steady state run which often feels torturous unless you have found something really good on Netflix.

I realize there are runners who will never step foot on a treadmill. But for those who incorporate them into their running even semi-regularly will likely be looking for ways to constantly keep it interesting. What are your favorite treadmill workouts?

Carissa Liebowitz has run the Boston Marathon as well as dozens of marathons and half marathons. You can follow her running adventures on StravaInstagram and her blog.

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