Spring is in the air! There are some wonderfully warm days mixed in with some spring rain and snow. It is so refreshing and liberating to be able to run outside in warm weather, yet visits to the treadmill are sometimes still a necessary evil. With training as changing and variable as the weather, there is a way to make your treadmill and road workouts feel similar so it is not such a shock on your body to make those changes or that you are surprised by how much harder the pace is outside.
This really is a tricky topic because so much depends on the treadmill that is actually being used. So many people assume that the miles per hour/pace readout on the treadmill is accurate. Do not assume this! Actually, assume it is wrong! The biggest thing you are worried about on a treadmill is that you are working at the same effort as you would be outside. Here are some things you can do to make the two efforts match more closely
Workout using a heart rate monitor. This piece of technology really helps to level the playing field. Basically, if you learn what pulse rate you normally run at outside, then make sure to do that same pulse inside no matter what the treadmill numbers say. Then you will know for sure that you are getting the same cardio workout.
Consider using the incline. Sometimes it is frustrating to go outside after running on a treadmill because your legs get more tired from doing more of their own pushing. You can remedy that by using the incline button. Each machine is different, but in general, an incline of 1-2% will feel more like the work you do outside.
Be patient. There is a difference between running outside and inside when it comes to environmental influences. It takes the body time to adapt to all the weather and terrain changes outside so the reality is that it takes some consistent running outside to feel more comfortable outside. Treadmills can be boring, but at least the weather and terrain is predictable and easy to adapt to.
Over the years, I have had to make the jump many times from treadmill to road and back again. I love the warmth, consistent pacing, restroom availability, and early dark morning or dark night convenience of a treadmill. I also love the freedom, sunshine, wind in the hair and trail terrain of running outside. I appreciate and accept what both forms of running have to offer and now I know what to expect out of each one. No longer do I let the nuances of one or the other ruin a perfectly good chance TO RUN!
And finally, here is a great story to remember if you are stuck on a treadmill more than you would like to be and wonder if you can really get road fit on a treadmill.
Dr. Christine Clark works 25 to 30 hours a week as a physician and has two young children. Oh yeah, she also lives in frigid Alaska. She didn’t let these obstacles prevent her from training for the 2000 U.S. Olympic marathon trials. She did nearly all her training on a treadmill, including 15-mile runs at a 5:50 per mile pace at a room temperature of 70F. At the February 26 trials it was 70F, and Clark averaged 5:50 per mile to win in a huge upset with a time of 2:33:31, earning her a spot in the Sydney Olympics.
Now that is rockin!