Treadmill Tip of the Week: Never Say Never, Haters

Sure, for most of you treadmill season is coming to an end. In fact, this is our last Treadmill Tip of the week post until late fall. However, I’m just getting started on my treadmill adventures!

I’ve seen the Treadmill Tip posts week after week, but not paid much attention. I live in mild central North Carolina and I always thought I hated the dreadmill, avoiding it at all costs. To me, one of the best parts about running is enjoying the fresh air outside. Rain or shine, below freezing temps or extreme heat, I’d rather experience nature than run in place on a revolving belt. You might feel the same way.

Well, never say never!

So how did I go from a treadmill-loathing only-outside runner to the treadmillvangelist I am today? What was the turning point in my long-held dislike of treadmills?

I have a newfound respect for this contraption, for two reasons:

  1. The complete counter-intuitive realization that treadmill running might actually make me faster; and
  2. The convenience of being able to run at any time in any conditions is amazing.

Last January, Snowzilla dumped snow on us as I was winding up my training for the Olympic Marathon Trials. As soon as the blizzard stopped and I saw plows digging single lane tracks through the feet of snow, I pulled on my YakTrax and headed outdoors.

But, as I did this over and over again during the next few days, it never lead to a very satisfying run. Trying to compete with the cars and trying to navigate the single lane tracks didn’t feel very safe. Even when they plowed wider lanes, the sidewalks were so full of piled up snow, they were useless.

Luckily, my neighborhood gym reopened a few days in, and I had plenty of treadmills to choose from. My daily plan changed to running the half mile or so to the gym in my YakTrax, then hopping on the treadmill for my real workout. And much to my surprise, I enjoyed it.

There was something easy about running on the treadmill. It wasn’t the running part. It was something else. I set my pace, put on my headphones, and zoned out. I didn’t have to pay attention to where I was going, look out for street crossings, or even worry about time. I just ran. And watched tv! And listened to music! Which as the mother of young children, is sometimes a luxury. The news instead of nursery rhymes? I can multi-task this!

I normally run completely by time, unless I’m doing a workout on the track. But staring at the pace and numbers on the treadmill motivated me to run faster. Or at least it felt faster than I normally run, since I don’t wear a GPS watch. I realized this was a good thing, more bang for my buck out of my every day runs. While I completely advocate running by feel and taking it easy when you need to, I’ll admit I probably should make an effort to run harder on some of my daily runs. Running on a treadmill kept me at a faster clip and helped with my tempo and leg turnover, not to mention increased my mental stamina.

I began to wish I had incorporated several treadmill runs into my weekly routine. Not only to get in a faster normal run, but to get in a second workout of the week. I was hitting the track for a hard workout weekly, and racing on the weekends when I could, but everything else was running with the stroller. Doing a cut down or tempo on the treadmill would have allowed me to get in a second workout, no matter the weather or time of day.

***

Last winter, after the snow began to melt away and I was able to get outdoors again, I was surprised how much I missed the treadmills at the gym. I started to daydream about having one in my basement. Instead of wasting time getting the kids ready and in the stroller, I could run extra miles on my treadmill instead. AND I could run any time I could squeeze some miles in.

Now that I have too many kids to fit in a running stroller and with my husband gone a lot for work, having a treadmill in my basement really is life-changing. After doing my research and looking into lots of different types of treadmills, I got a Nautilus T616 and I’m still getting to know, ol’ Nauti as I call her. So far we have a promising relationship. I have a feeling we’re going to be spending a lot of time together, and Nauti is going to be a key training partner during this phase of my life.

Are you a reformed treadmill hater? Are you still one or have you always loved the ‘mill?

I have fun trying to sprint, enjoy long runs in the mountains, and everything in between. Former competitive runner (3 x marathon OTQ & trail marathon national champion) currently working through a lingering injury. I write about trying to stay competitive while raising young kids and moving into a new post-competitive stage.

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4 comments

  1. I definitely didn’t always love it.It’s hard to say when that switched over for sure, but I’m pretty sure it was training for my first marathon in 2011 (through an Upstate NY winter…and a harsh one at that). Like you, it was like a strange realization that I could run, be safe and get more satisfaction from my runs than worrying about slipping, traffic and the plethora of other variables outside that we cannot control. So I started to embrace the mill a bit more, and funny enough my first ever 20 miler was done on a mill and I still remember it well! After that, I grew to love and more importantly appreciate the mill more and more and now consider it a crucial part of my training “toolbox” and “team”

    1. Your first 20 miler on a treadmill? That’s impressive! Enough time for an entire movie! I think once baby is born you’ll appreciate it even more, for runs you want to do during off-hours, when it’s too cold to take her outside, etc.

  2. Yep — started off as a hater … but last spring, when I started working with my coach and challenged myself to not make excuses, I began to love it. I don’t have to worry about it being dark or snowy or icy (all sure-bets for tripping and getting hurt), I don’t have to worry about traffic … I could just get on and get the workout in. I also think it helped me stay acclimated to warmer temps, which is good for spring marathon racing! I’d still rather have a 50* sunny day any day, but the treadmill definitely has it’s place. Excited to finally have space where we can put one in our house, so thanks for sharing what kind you have!

    1. Exactly- you just get on it and get it done! I really like the Nautilus, it’s definitely sturdy enough for faster running (I feel like a lot of treadmills are for pedestrian paces!), has a nice Bluetooth capability for plugging in your entertainment, as well as quick toggle buttons for changing the pace/incline during a workout. It actually has many more advanced features, but I haven’t explored them all yet!