Treadmill Running Tips + Workouts to Make the Time Fly

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This post originally appeared on Women’s Running.

Whether it’s the dark mornings, the below freezing weather or the icy roads, many of us may be forced into treadmill workouts over the next few months as training for spring races begins to pick up.

Treadmill running has a stigma of being boring and monotonous – and it definitely can be – but there are ways to make the time on the “hamster wheel” challenging and even fun! Below are some tips to help you get through your treadmill runs followed by a great hill workout and a handful of butt-kicking workouts from a few of the Saucony 26 Strong coaches. These speedy ladies have all logged their share of miles on treadmills and are pros at making the time pass quickly while getting an awesome workout in. I also post a bunch of workouts I complete on the treadmill – you can find me here.

Variation: I try to mimic running on the roads when I am on the treadmill. I never run on a flat terrain and/or the exact same pace for more than a few minutes. Play around with the incline and/or the pace, even if it’s just picking up or slowing down the pace by a few seconds. This does two things: it keeps me distracted and it helps change up the muscles I am using.

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    2016 Boston Marathon Training (T-9) + Break from Marathons + Benefit of Long Tempo

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    Last week was the second week in a row where I went 5-for-5 with early morning wakeups (before work). I feel like I’m in a good groove with the mom/work/running balance. I know it won’t always feel like this so I’m trying to make the most of it while things are working well.

    I’ve begun to look ahead and think about fall racing plans. I am leaning towards skipping a fall marathon this year. There are many reasons for this. Truth is, usually about 6-8 weeks out from a marathon, I start feeling like I will take a break, but the excitement and happiness from race day is usually enough to have me signing up for the next one. So I know part of my current thought process is affected by my current feelings towards long runs and the amount of time I’ve been dedicating to Boston.

    But one of the biggest reasons is that I (currently) do not want to dedicate Saturday mornings for long runs. Now that I’m working out of the home during the week, our weekends, especially during the warmer months, will be when we do things – go to beach, go on day-trips and so on. I don’t want my training to infringe on those plans.

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      Boston Marathon Training (T-9)

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      I feel like my motivation to run in the cold is dwindling. I think it’s easier to suck it up and run in sub-0 temps when you know it’s just one or two days. But, for the last week, it’s been mostly sub-0 in the AM – and the 7 day forecast doesn’t look any better.

      Too funny not to share…and kind of what I have been feeling!

      Last week included a bunch of treadmill runs. Monday’s mid-week long run, Wednesday’s tempo, Saturday’s long tempo, Sunday’s recovery – all happened on the treadmill. Wednesday and Saturday I opted for the treadmill because the real-feel was single digits and my coach and I both felt that it was okay this week to use the treadmill to get the workout in (I would have had to adjust my paces significantly if I did them outside to account for the cold temps). Tuesday and Thursday were early morning runs outside (small victories).

      Monday
      Planned: 10-11 miles with 6-8x :20 strides

      Actual: 11 miles with 8x :20 strides

      I followed the same plan as last week’s run and incorporated a lot of 1:00 spurts of climbing. This week was 20x 1:00 at 4.5% incline. The remaining time was at 0% to give my achilles a break. Changing up the incline and / or pace are the only way I can get through a treadmill run these days. Although this run was almost 90 minutes, it went by surprisingly fast since I was playing with the incline every 1-3 minutes!

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        Precor 9.27 Treadmill Review + Treadmill Review Linkup

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        When my husband and I were shopping around for a treadmill, it was a bit overwhelming. There are an endless number of brands – and an even more endless number of models to choose from. We found some reviews online – but not enough to give us all the information we were looking for.

        I routinely get asked what treadmill I would recommend. It’s a hard question for me to answer because I only run on my treadmill – I have no other treadmills to compare it to.

        And that’s where this comes in to play – a handful of other runners and I decided to do a treadmill review linkup. We would each write a review of our own treadmill – which would give you multiple treadmill reviews – while hopefully answering the pertinent questions you have.

        You can view the reviews below (via the InLinkz links) or on our Pinterest board! We’d love for this to grow so if you have a review of a treadmill (or want to write one), please email me (nycrunningmama@gmail.com).

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          The Pain of Mile Repeats

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          Mile repeats were on the training plan earlier this week. In my opinion, mile repeats are the most painful speed workout. Running pretty darn hard for ~6+ minutes – with not a ton of rest (2:30) – and then doing it all over again. And again. And so on. 600s and 800s hurt – but I’m only running hard for 2+ or 3+ minutes, respectively. Mile repeats are more of a slow, painful death.

          But despite all this, I kind of love them. I find that I get almost giddy with excitement when I see them on the training calendar. I think part of my love stems from my history with them. I began doing mile repeats when I was training for the 2007 Army Ten Miler (as a member of the Fort Hood team).

          I remember the first track workout we did – 2×1600, 2×800 and 2×400. And I vividly remember my legs shaking uncontrollably by the last couple of laps – where it seemed like I was walking. My split times were not impressive and I am fairly certain I was the slowest girl on the team that morning.

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            Octane Fitness: Zero Runner

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            Last Thursday, I attended an event hosted by Octane Fitness in NYC to learn about their newest product on the market – the Zero Runner.

            I went into the event with some doubts – it was hard for me to conceptualize a piece of equipment that resembled an elliptical but that gave you the ability to stride out like you were running outside or on a treadmill. In my mind, it seemed it would be more of a cross-trainer than a replacement for running.

            The Zero Runner was first conceptualized almost twenty years ago but it wasn’t until recently when those ideas fully came to fruition. The Zero Runner was created by Octane Fitness because there was a need for runners to be more efficient, run faster or longer and avoid injury.Octane Fitness set out to create a machine that would replicate real running motion with the benefits of running, but without the stress and pounding on the joints and knees on the body.

            At it’s core, the Zero Runner is zero-impact running. You use the same muscles while running on the Zero Runner as you would when you run outdoors. But with zero impact there is no stress on your body.

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              PRO Compression + Sick Again + Treadmill Running

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              Scotland 10k

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              I’m pretty excited to share that I have been selected as a PRO Compression Ambassador. =) I have been wearing PRO Compression socks for over a year – often after long runs or stress workouts as recovery but also for several races.

              I did a full review of them last year that you can read here. Anyway, I’m excited to work with this amazing company and to share some deals and giveaways (!!) with you guys!

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              Each week I vow to update on here a little bit more and then each week it seems like something else pops up that wins out over blogging.  Anyway, let’s catch up. I was finally starting to feel like I was getting into a good rhythm again after my little knee troubles a few weeks ago – successfully did a couple of speed workouts and got a few more longish runs in.

              • Monday: Rest Day (full rest day -> no cross training, core, etc)
              • Tuesday: 8 treadmill miles (8:10 pace) + core + strength work
              • Wednesday: 10 miles including 6 progression tempo miles (6:53, 6:51, 6:48, 6:46, 6:43, 6:39) + pilates + core
              • Thursday: 10 miles -> at night which was not ideal but at least I got the miles in

              My plan was to run 6-8 miles on Friday, 20-22 on Saturday and then run some recovery miles with my husband in Central Park on Sunday morning (we were spending the night in the city!).

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                Treadmill Running with Little Ones

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                As I’ve talked about a few times, I am not the biggest fan of the cold weather (by cold, I mean <25 degrees) nor running in the pitch black at 5am. So I tend to rely on the treadmill a lot during the winter months. Since we have one in our basement, I also tend to sleep in more since I have the luxury of running during the day while I am home with the boys.  On average, I’d say that 2-3 runs/week have been happening during the day and the other runs occur earlier in the morning before my husband goes to work.

                Truth is, my youngest is still a bit too young to have around while I run. We don’t have anything blocking the front of the treadmill and I am too worried he will just wander over mid-run.  Actually, yesterday was the first time I attempted to run when both boys were awake. It took an episode of Sesame Street to keep my youngest sitting on the couch and away from me, but it worked and I manged to run a few miles. But normally, I only run while he is napping and since the boys’ naps are almost never concurrent these days, my oldest keeps me company down the basement.

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                  Two Weeks Off From Running + Scotland 10k this weekend

                  First ride in the wagon!

                  I loved reading all your comments on yesterday’s post – glad to know that my husband and I are not the only ones who struggle with both fitting in working out daily.

                  Ever have a day where everything seems to go your way?  Yesterday was one of those days for me.  Started with an amazing ~20 miles of the Lake Placid Ironman Course  on the trainer.

                  This DVD is amazing.  I am so thankful that Amanda recommended it to me.  My plan is to use parts of the DVD for at least one bike ride a week so that I can become intimately familiar with the course.  The bike course at LP is 2 56-mile loops.  This DVD takes you through one complete loop with Coach Troy with pointers and tips for the course along the way.

                  Both boys slept later than usual (6am for the oldest and 8am for the youngest) AND had joint naps (for a little bit) which allowed me to shower, work on training plans, respond to some emails, do  laundry, and clean the house.

                  Then I had a few deliveries.  First Fedex dropped two huge boxes off containing this:

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                    Race Calendar + Ironman Lake Placid Training

                    Hello friends!

                    One of my good friends pointed out to me that my race calendar was severely outdated…so I took a few minutes and updated it.  (The calendar can be found here.)  The big/long races are definites.   The smaller/shorter ones are still up in the air (5 miler on 4th of July, RW races, etc).  I made the decision on a fall marathon…the Wineglass Marathon!  SUPER excited about this one. I’ve heard nothing but amazing things and I’m loving the elevation chart for the race:

                    I’m also looking for a triathlon to do before the ironman in July.  There is the Rev3 Quassy in June that I would LOVE to do but not sure we will be able to swing it financially (registration alone is over $250…then we will need hotel for 1-2 nights, etc).  Anyone want to sponsor me? (I’m only half kidding).

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                    I realized it’s been a while since I gave any sort of update with how training is going in prep for IM Lake Placid.  I post a lot of pictures on my Instagram account {NYCRunningMama} with training updates, but don’t really blog about how things are going.  So here goes:

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                      PRO Compression Socks Review

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                      Monday’s Workout:
                      6 easy miles at 7:33 pace.  A bit faster than I was anticipating, especially coming off Sunday’s 10k steady state run, but my legs felt fresh and loose so I just went with it. The run actually turned into a perfect progression run – with miles 3-5 at/just under 7:15 pace.  They felt totally comfortable and in control.  Makes me very excited for my upcoming half next Sunday. It was also the longest run (up to that point) in my Saucony Virratas!

                      Tuesday’s Workout:
                      Speed day.  5 x 1 mile repeats + warmup/cooldown.  I decided to try something different this week.  After some recent conversations on twitter about the benefit of eliminating the rest in between each mile repeat and only utilizing an active recovery, I wanted to give it a try.  I still like doing a 1/4 mile active recovery (usually I do the active recovery + 30-60 sec of rest to stretch/drink water) so my active recovery was about 2:15.  My goal is to get that down closer to the golden 2-minute recovery that I’ve been hearing / reading about.  To ensure I was able to get through all 5, I made a conscious effort to start a bit slower than I have been running my repeats.  Less recovery = slower repeat times.

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                        Long Run Fail

                        Don’t forget to enter the Ava and Liam Giveaway!

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                        I like my marathon training cycles to be on the longer side – at least 16-18 weeks with my long runs beginning at 12-14 miles.  One of the reasons is because it gives me a few extra buffer weeks in case I have to miss a long run.  Being a mom to two little ones (with one that’s exclusively breastfed) means that a good night’s sleep is totally out of my hands and despite my best efforts, a long run (or successful long run) is sometimes not in the cards.

                        I’ve being extremely satisfied with my long runs this training cycle.  Until this weekend.  This weekend’s did NOT go as planned (and it had nothing to do with the little ones).

                        I intended to run 16 miles early Friday morning (5:30am) following a similar route as last weekend’s 22 miler.  I knew from the first few steps that it was going to be a tough run.  I was working harder than I should have been to maintain a pace that last weekend felt so easyI wasn’t out of breath – instead, my body felt fatigued, exhausted, and unable to move any faster than what it was already running.

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                          What I’m Loving

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                          Happy Valentine’s Day!!!  Hope you all indulge in a little chocolate / sweet treats today =)

                          Workout yesterday: 700 yd swim (following the 0to1650 plan) + 5 mile progression run on gym’s treadmill.  My arms felt tired from the first stroke in the pool yesterday…I have one more pool workout on Friday and then off until Monday (yay!).  The progression run was totally unplanned – intention was 4-5 miles at an easy pace but everything felt too good to go slow.  Ordinarily, I would have followed the training plan, but since I haven’t done any long or hard runs this week, I decided a few miles at a good pace wasn’t the worst thing in the world.

                          Splits:

                          • Mile 1: 8:20
                          • Mile 2: 7:44
                          • Mile 3: 7:16
                          • Mile 4: 6:56
                          • Mile 5: 6:28

                          I didn’t get up early this AM to run.  The last few days of swimming coupled with my youngest son’s recent sleeping habits (he has reverted to waking up 2-4x / night to nurse) made for one tired mama this morning.  But I got the BEST present from both boys today.  Little guy woke up only once (3am) to nurse and both boys slept til almost 630am!

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                            Milestones

                            My home for the next ~6 months

                            My youngest son will be 5 months old next week.  He’s been scooting around in on his belly his crib for a few weeks now, but just last week really started moving (law-crawling) ALL over the place.  It seems like the idea of getting from point a to point b has clicked in his head.  He no longer wants to lay around and play with his baby toys.  He’d rather go after his older brother’s toys (especially his puzzle pieces) which has already started to cause some frustration for my oldest son.

                            As much as I’m thrilled for him to have gained this wonderful motor skill, it has made my life exponentially more difficult.  No longer can I leave him places without worry.  I have to constantly check to make sure there are no small toys lying around (choking hazard) and nothing that he can get his hands into.  Easier said than done when there is a 2-yr old in the house.  I’m learning why life is tougher with two.  With one – you only have to concern yourself with where you put things.  With 2+, there are now little hands that are constantly dropping non-chewable toys / choking hazards throughout the whole house.  Thankfully, he seems to really enjoy two toys that keep him in place – his jumperoo and walk-around.  Double “yays” because my oldest is enjoying playing with him while he is in them:

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                              Future Prom Date + 10 Mile PR

                              Good Morning!!  I already feel like this week is dragging and it’s only Tuesday :/

                              We had SUCH a fun day yesterday!  My girlfriend, Nicole, and her daugther drove from LI to spend a few hours with us (it was her first time on SI!).  Nicole and I met last year through twitter / blogging and were so excited when we found out our due dates were only 4 weeks apart.  It was a blast to go through pregnancy and now motherhood side-by-side with her. =)  We’ve been planning a playdate for weeks months and FINALLY put a date on the calendar! It was so much fun to meet her beautiful daughter, Olivia after seeing pictures of her from the first day she’s been born!

                              Our little ones are only one month apart in age – Liv is almost 4 months and Ryan is almost 5 months!  I think they make a pretty cute couple…what do you think? BTW – this picture was totally spontaneous – we didn’t pose them or their hands!

                              Nicole brought THE most delicious cookies I have ever tasted.  Seriously…Ever.  They were GF Chocolate Chip Cookies w/ Garbonzo Bean Flour (the recipe for this tasty morsels can be found here). I don’t even want to tell you how many cookies I ate yesterday afternoon / evening – I totally blame it on yesterday being my first swim workout for IMLP training (more on that in tomorrow’s post!).

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                                20 miles on the treadmill + Fun in the Snow

                                Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!!  We seemed to have escaped Nemo’s wrath for the most part – we got about a foot of snow Friday night but thankfully didn’t lose power or have any damage from the high winds.  I have to admit – we were pretty darn excited to get a real snowfall.  This is the first substantial snow that my 2-yr old has seen! Needless to say, we were happy campers when we woke up Saturday morning and saw this:

                                Once my youngest went down for his morning nap, my oldest and I got dressed and joined my husband (who was shoveling) for some snow fun:

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                                I got up at 4am on Friday to get my 20 miles in on the treadmill.  Well, my alarm was set for 4, but I got up at 330 to nurse my son and didn’t see a point in laying down for <10 min.  My husband had to leave for work by 730, so I knew that I had to be off the treadmill just after 7 in order to have time to shower.

                                Within a few miles of running, I was bored OUT OF MY MIND.  Last week’s 18 miler was different – the time seemed to fly.  But, this week I felt like I couldn’t zone out.  I broke my own rule about long runs – I started thinking about how much further I had to run.  And it really started to pysch me out.  I decided to start playing around with my pace to keep my mind off of the remaining miles.  I loved last week’s steady state run and so I started doing a MGP (Marathon Goal Pace) mile every few miles.  The miles started to tick by and I got back into the zone.  It gave me something to push for and made the rest miles a welcome break.

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                                  Intervals

                                  Please keep my beautiful friend, Sarah, and her family in your prayers.  Her adorable 4 month old son, Jack, is undergoing surgery today.  You can read about her son and what he’s going through here.

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                                  If you look at my marathon training plan, it’s a mix between being extremely detailed and very vague.  The long runs, types of workouts each week, and target weekly mileage is pretty black and white.  I know what I want to get done each week and I try hard not to deviate from that.  I run six days a week with three of those being quality days – long, 2x speed (either intervals, tempo, SS, LT) – and the other three being easy/recovery days. The workouts for the speed days are left blank.

                                  I don’t believe that I have to do the same speed workout every single week.  It’s boring.  I like the variety of changing it up every week (or every few weeks). Intervals and tempo one week.  Intervals and steady state another week.  I typically decide what my plan is for the week after my long run (based on how I’m feeling) but have changed my mind the night before or even the morning of the workout.  However, I often do one interval workout a week.

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                                    18 Miles + Super Bowl Fun

                                    Dance Party

                                    I decided to do my long run on Friday this week – we had a bunch of things we had planned for the weekend and I didn’t want to dedicate 2.5+ hours Saturday or Sunday morning to a long run.  Some weeks I can totally pysch myself up to run in the freezing cold.  Other weeks, I have no motivation and will happily log the miles on the treadmill.  This was definitely a treadmill week (I haven’t run outside since my frigid 10k last weekend).

                                    I woke up at 4:30am Friday morning in order to be finished running, showered, and out the door by 8:30 with my oldest son.  He is in a 75-min “class” at the YMCA (where we have a membership).  I love the class – he gets to interact with other kids his age in a classroom environment and I get to spend some one-on-one time with him (my mom comes over to watch my youngest son). I spent the rest of the day with the boys at my mom’s house (while our family room / kitchen were getting painted).  She makes the best pizza.  Ever.  Learning to make pizza is a must in my family:

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