Thursday, January 9, 2014

Don't Fear the Treadmill

Clearly I have not been running outside this week. With windchills below 0, ice plaguing the sidewalks, and those pesky areas on the NY curbs where you have no idea of the depth of the puddles? No thanks.

I do my morning runs on the treadmills between October and February-ish anyways because I don't like running in the dark. But now that training for Boston is officially underway, I found myself having to do my first double-digit run on the treadmill last Saturday. 10 miles. My record is still 12, but still I don't think it makes it any less impressive.

I'm not a treadmill hater. No, I think there is actual incredible value in the machine. You can control your pace and keep it constant. You can add hills. You can have your water and snacks ready along with a towel (should you be dripping as I am). You can wear a tank top in January. And -- importantly -- you can watch copious amounts of E! True Hollywood Stories.

But it still ain't easy.

My Dana-Farber team has a lot of great training resources that I've been using which are helpful as I embark on my first full-season of winter training for a Spring marathon. I've learned (and confirmed from others' blogs and articles on the interwebs) that you're actually supposed to be at a 0.5 to a 1.0 incline in order to match the level of exertion from outdoor running. The reason, evidently, is the lack of wind resistance inside which makes it easier. I'm not convinced, but I have started to make most of my workouts at 0.5 and it's actually been fine to make that adjustment.

I personally do find treadmill running "easier" than outdoor running and as such my pace is faster. According to Runners' World this is normal:
Remember, it is important to run by your effort level rather than your speed while making the transition to outdoor running.  For instance, if you run a 10-minute mile on the treadmill, you may well be running a 10:30 outside at the same effort level (intensity).  
For this reason I am supposed to ensure that I run outside an adequate amount before the race. And I certainly will. Once it gets above 20 degrees.

In case you're toying with the idea of treadmill running more yourself, I also thought I'd share a great conversion chart that gives you pace per mile or km (if you're fancy and European) based on the MPH setting on the treadmill. As an example, if you're at a 4.0 speed walk, that's a 15 minute mile. IT also tells you how long it will take you to run certain distances at that pace (i.e. a 10K, a marathon, whatever!) I enjoy it.

Hope this helps give you some useful information to get your butt in gear. I'm not scurred of the treadmill, and neither should you be. Treadmills hold snacks. Treadmills have TVs (or at least any good one will!) Treadmills are enclosed in buildings with bathrooms. Treadmills don't make you cry from windburn. Bring your ipad, ipod or other fancy new-found device and get saddled up. It can't be worse than running in a Vortex.

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I am running the Boston Marathon with the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge! I have raised $4,919 towards my goal of $10,000! Find our more or donate here:


  1. I very consistently run slower on the treadmill - it's a LOT harder than outdoors for me!

    1. it's interesting, I know a lot of people like that. For me it's the opposite. So funny how people respond so differently!

    2. Oh wow, I thought I was the only one who was slower on the treadmill! I always hear that the treadmill is so much easier, but for me I go much slower. And that's without adding ANY incline!