Today I wanted to discuss the trusty old treadmill and its wonderful array of uses in these cold winter months.
Many runners shun using a treadmill thinking its the easy option but I believe it has many advantages for certain types of training and certainly has its place in a training regime if you are lucky enough to have access to one.
I have literally spent days on treadmills doing 12 hour runs on many occasions for charities or fundraising and I have used it much in the build up to long ultras when the weather wasn’t good. It can be as boring as hell but that is one of the reasons they are good.
They teach you to trudge on even when bored stiff and force you to use your mind to escape to better places, happier places, a trick I have mentioned in other blogs called “disassociation” where you learn to tune out your actual environment in favour of your fantasy worlds - day dreaming as such - forgetting yourself and your pain and discomfort and escaping into a story or fantasy or challenge or planning mission of your choice.
Its a great way to wile away the hours and still keep moving. The treadmill can prepare you well in this instance for those mindless hours of road running if doing marathons or ultras making you mentally toughened to boredom. Another of the treadmills main advantages is being able to completely control all the variables.
Speed, temperature in the room you are running in, incline, wind etc., this can be great when its storming or cold or very hot or when you are slowly returning to training from injury or just starting out and needing to strengthen your ligaments and tendons slowly.
Its also got great shock absorption so there is less pounding on your joints which means you can run faster with less damage to your skeleton and in a safer environment. I also find it the best place to practice my running form, to be able to vary the speed and control my body posture and running form without having to be aware of external distractions like traffic or trail obstacles means I can be concentrating totally on my cadence, stance, fall, stride, landing position of the foot, chest and back posture and core engagement etc.
After doing my running drills I can get on the treadmill and reinforce the neural pathways I have been developing by doing my drills without any external difficulties throwing me off my stride.
While going through the process of finding a perfect treadmill for yourself, you might find yourself going through different pages and articles that show mixed reviews of customer satisfaction. The folks over at consumersadvocate.org have made a really handy guide to help with this. Topping the list is "Nordictrack" which has become increasingly popular followed by Lifespan and Pro-form. All the brands launching these treadmills have a high rate of specs and other modern features. The website has provided us with both negative expectancies and the positive aspects of each treadmill in addition to helpful insight and resources for every fitness lover.
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