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-10) + How to Do Speedwork on Treadmill

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    I hope you all had an amazing Valentine’s Day with the ones you love! My guys and I got to spend the evening out – all dressed up. It was a great way to spend the holiday!

    So we are 9 weeks out from race day. After a less-than-ideal couple of weeks of training, last week was a solid and strong week back. 63+ miles over 7 days of running. Coach and I have left one day mid-week as an optional rest day. Last week was the first week in months where I felt that I didn’t need it. I usually take it because I’m tired from not enough sleep. But, everything flowed so effortlessly last week that I didn’t feel exhausted or that I needed a morning to sleep in. So I skipped the rest day and did an easy run. I definitely think that if time or sleep were not an issue, I would be able to run 7 days a week for a stretch of time. My body responded well to that in the summer/fall. But the reality is that not every week will look and feel like last week did.

    Here’s how the week broke down:

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      2016 Boston Marathon Training (T-12, T-11)

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      Well, after a solid week of training (T-12), last week was the training week that wasn’t. My whole family got hit with the Norovirus. It knocked us on our backs for days. And it wasn’t until Friday where I felt ready to run again.

      My husband and I started having symptoms at almost the same time on Monday. He was working from home, I was at work in the city when we started texting each other. We both felt off from the early morning (I actually had dressed and intended to run. Ran to the end of my block and realized something wasn’t right, so came home), but attributed it to what we ate the day before. By lunch-time, my husband wasn’t keeping anything down.

      By 4pm, I had gotten sick at work and was on my way home. I was hoping that I would be in the clear for a window of time. Unfortunately, that window only lasted about 45 minutes. I got sick on the packed bus, which will likely remain on my list of embarrassing life moments (thankful my coworker handed me a garbage bag as I was heading home). We spent the next 36 hours in bed, with the most intense stomach pains I’ve ever experienced.

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        2016 Boston Marathon Training (T-13)

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        Some weeks running and training are seamless and each run goes as planned. Other weeks it takes lots of moving of the puzzle pieces to get the runs in. And other weeks, those puzzle pieces may not fit so perfectly and something has to get tossed.

        This past week was the 2nd. I got all the runs in that I planned to, but it took a bi t of finagling and shifting of when and where the runs happened.

        6 days of running with a weekly mileage of 60 miles – highest since mid-September. The constant hunger has returned and so in case my mileage didn’t indicate the return to marathon training, the endless calories and meals are a good sign.

        There was a lot of treadmill running this week. Not ideal or how I hoped to spend my weekend, but as always, I’m just grateful for the opportunity to still run even when the roads are less than ideal – or the child-watching situation makes it impossible.

        As many of you, we got hit with a ton of snow Friday evening into Sunday morning. The last report I saw had Staten Island with the most in the tri-state area – at 31.7 inches. It was a lot. But life went back to normal on Monday – school for the boys and roads mostly open. Running outside is day-by-day right now depending on the temps. If it’s sub-freezing, then there’s too much ice on the shoulders for me to run. Here’s how the week broke down:

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          Boston Marathon (2016) Training (T-14)

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          Happy Tuesday! Another solid week of training is in the bank. It was a bit of a cutdown week, in regards to miles, but the intensity and effort was at or slightly higher than previous weeks.

          But most importantly, my sister had a baby boy this week!! I am an aunt to a beautiful, happy, healthy little boy!!

          5 total runs (1 planned rest day, 1 unplanned) for 49 miles. I’m two weeks in to long runs on Fridays – and so far, they are working. I’m still trying to figure out the logistics of longer long runs (for instance, this week I have 18-19 miles so I would need to start around 4am). Not sure about where I’m going to run the miles (maybe break up inside/outside), but I’ll have the details ironed out by the end of the week.

          This Friday’s run required a 3:40am wakeup – which was tough because it’s at the tail end of a long work week, BUT, knowing that once it’s done, I get the entire weekend to sleep in and relax with my boys in the AM makes me energized to suck it up and get it done. I tell myself that I can deal with being tired one more morning – and the reward makes it worth it.

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            The Treadmill Incline Debate

            The winter months usually go hand in hand with the treadmill incline debate. A lot of runners training for spring races are forced to their treadmills because of snow, ice or freezing temperatures – and understandably, begin questioning the ability of the treadmill to train them properly for their goal race.

            There are so many schools of thought on the treadmill incline. I know plenty of successful, strong runners who use either 0%, .5% or 1% (or more) when they are on the treadmill. But which is correct and what works best?

            Short answer – I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer. I think you need to find what works for you and what you are comfortable with.

            Each has perfectly reasonable arguments – both for and against. And I have tried all three – when I first started running, I never used the incline. A couple of years ago, I started using .5% incline for all of my runs and then after Potomac in November, I bumped it up to 1%.

            I’ve been getting asked a lot lately about the incline I use for treadmill running (especially for my workouts) so wanted to share both my reasoning for using the incline as well as how I use it. But this isn’t a black and white argument. There are articles that are in agreement with my methods – and just as many that argue against it (see end of post).

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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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                    Training Update + LA Marathon Race Review

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                    I called last week my “ease back into training” week. I didn’t want to immediately jump back into tempo runs or 20 milers, so I focused on lower mileage, easier running, some core work and time on the trainer.

                    Here’s how the week went – there was more treadmill running than I wanted but with my husband away for business all week, I was grateful to just get the miles in! The boys have been really great with staying occupied while I run on the treadmill so I was able to do the running while they were awake:

                    Monday: 8 miles outside (8:07 pace) – strength and core at night

                    Tuesday: 8 miles on treadmill (7:55 pace) – 5 easy, 3 progression (7:30, 7:17, 7:00) followed by 30 min on trainer

                    Wednesday: 10 miles (7:38 pace) – which included the descending ladder workout I talked about last week.

                    Thursday: Rest Day

                    Friday: 10 miles (7:31 pace) with a descending interval workout. In 2007, I was a member of the FT Hood Army 10 miler team. We had weekly track practice (which I loved – which I had access to a track!) and our coach had us build up to 3 sets of 1600, 800 and 400 with a short active recovery + rest period. This ladder workout was the first real “workout” I ever did!! It’s a good mix of distances and you don’t feel absolutely exhausted by the end despite doing over 5 miles of speed work.

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                      PRO Compression + Sick Again + Treadmill Running

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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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                        The Winter Funk + LA Marathon

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                        My family (minus my godson who was sleeping!)

                        I hope you had a wonderful Christmas/holiday weekend with your family and loved ones. We had a fantastic celebration at our home on Christmas Eve with my sisters, their families and my parents.

                        The week leading up to Christmas was pure chaos. Between last minute Christmas shopping, taking the boys to see Santa (AJ was a little weary then warmed up but Ryan was not happy), cleaning the house, food shopping and cooking, I felt like it would never all get done. But it did.

                        We also got our new dining room furniture last week. I’ve known what I have wanted to do in our dining room since we moved in over 18 months ago but financially had to wait until now to purchase it all. I could not be happier!

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                        I haven’t blogged much the last few weeks – partially because I’ve been so busy but mostly because there hasn’t been a ton of good running. I’ve run here and there, done some speedy (for me) runs and gotten a few double digit runs in – but, by and large, running hasn’t been great. Truth is, I’ve been in a running funk. I’ve had very little motivation to get up early (so I haven’t) and it’s been impossible to get on the treadmill during the day (little guy is barely napping at the moment) so there’s been a lot of days off.

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                          Ironman Lake Placid (T – 10)

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                          Hi there! Happy Tuesday! Hope you had a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend filled with lots of food, family/friends and fun!  The first part of my weekend was filled with lots of training but thankfully yesterday was a full rest day – something my body AND mind needed desperately.

                          Monday

                          Double Stroller Run: 43 min / 5.23 mi / 8:17 pace.  Should have been a day off.  Looking back, I should have taken the day off because by the end of the week I was flat out exhausted.  But, I had skipped Sunday’s run and wanted to get a few miles in.  This was my first time with the BOB double stroller.  It was TOUGH.  Definitely a full body / core workout as well as cardio.  I maintained close to 8:30 miles for most of the run until my youngest started crying.  Why do they always wait to get fussy until you are at the furthest possible point from the car?  UGH. So I basically sprinted back to the car.  The last mile threw the splits way off.

                          Tuesday

                          Swim: 2,800 yards.  I talked about this workout last week.  Glad I made it through.

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                            Ironman Lake Placid (T – 11)

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                            baby news

                            Anxiously awaiting to find out if it’s a boy or girl!!

                            After an awesome week of training the previous week,  I was really excited to start T-11.  However, the week didn’t go as planned.   My older sister went into labor Monday evening and my sisters, mom, niece and I spent most of the night either awake at my mom’s  (waiting while she went to the hospital around 9pm) or at the hospital in the L&D room / in her room post-delivery.

                            My nephew was born at 2:11am.  Isn’t he the cutest thing?

                            I crawled into bed at 5am, nursed the littlest guy when he woke up at 545 and went back to sleep til 7.  I took a 2 hour nap later in the morning while my youngest napped (my husband worked from home thank goodness!).  But man, ~4 hours of broken sleep is brutal.  That one night of poor sleep affected me ALL week – I just felt like I couldn’t catch up on sleep.  That coupled with intense training left me passed out on the couch or facedown in bed at 8pm all week.

                            Tuesday

                            After a night of very little sleep, I chose napping and an early bedtime over working out.  If this happened closer to the weekend, I would have been more likely to skip the extra sleep…but I just couldn’t bring myself to start the week off so sleep-deprived.

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                              BIG News, More Races and Last Speed Workout

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                              I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I had some exciting news to share with you all…On Monday, my husband, both boys, and I will be heading down to Atlanta, GA, to spend the week working with Mizuno!!! A short time ago, I was contacted by Mizuno’s PR agency to see if I was interested in participating in their upcoming ad campaign.

                              Hello?  Is this real life?!?!  There was ZERO hesitation.  I started wearing Mizunos in mid-2007 when I was training for the Army 10-miler (when I was a member of the Ft Hood Army-10 miler team).  Mizunos were on my feet for that race, for every single run during my last deployment, for my first Boston Marathon (and current marathon PR), for my pregnancy running, and many brilliant moments in between.

                              We fly out Monday, film for the better part of the week, and will be flying home Friday.  I am SO incredibly excited, humbled, and honored to have been asked by Mizuno to participate in their campaign.  I will share what I can via twitter and Instagram (and maybe a blog post) during my adventure next week.

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                                #BostonStrongSI + Taper Begins

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                                The #BostonStrong runs are being held tonight.  After I wrote about the one being organized in NYC, I made the decision to organize one in my hometown:

                                The FB event page is located here.  We have over 100 people running or walking in support of Boston tonight.  PowerBar is sponsoring us so there will be gels, blasts, recovery bars, and other yummy treats for pre/post run fuel.  Other runners from my hometown have arranged for local news stations to be present, newspaper stories to be written, and water to be provided.  SO, if you are in the NYC / SI area, please come out to Clove Lakes tonight at 6:30pm to show your support.

                                *As of Sunday evening, there are 112 cities participating in this GLOBAL event. It is truly amazing.

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                                I am officially tapering!! Still feels weird for me to say that.  I feel like the marathon crept up on me (so much so that I didn’t remember to book a hotel room and now they are all sold out!).  For so long I felt like the marathon was still off in the distance…and then I blinked and, boom.  It’s two weeks away.

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                                  Marathon Goal Pace Running

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                                  I’ve been doing my long runs on Fridays for most of this training cycle, but I rearranged the days last week because my husband and I had a black tie work function to attend Thursday evening.

                                  It was held at the Waldorf Astoria.

                                  First time I’ve actually ever been inside.  The ballroom was GORGEOUS:

                                  It was SO nice to get dressed up and spend a few hours together away from the kids.  My wonderful mom babysat our two boys for the evening!

                                  I knew that I would want to have a few drinks and would not be able to get up at 4am for a long run after getting home after 11pm.  And, more importantly, I knew my calves would be screaming after wearing these bad boys for 5 hours:

                                  I love heels but I feel like the older I get, the more they disagree with my feet.

                                  So, long run was Thursday morning. Had to be finished by 745 so that my husband could leave for work on time.  Up at 415am. On the treadmill by 515am.  It’s early but truth be told, I like doing it early so that I’m done for the day before 8.

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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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                                      Strengthening Your Mind

                                      Baptism

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                                      Last Day to Enter the PRO Compression Giveaway here!

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                                      This past weekend was my son’s Baptism. It was a perfect day –  wonderful ceremony, good food, and our family and neighbors to share the day with us.  I’m extremely sentimental and wanted my boys to wear the same christening outfit – just like my sisters and I did when we were all baptized. We had a small party at our home afterwards catered from a yummy place on Staten Island.

                                      All dressed up for a change!

                                      I love little boy clothes:

                                      My mom and sisters:

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                                      This is one of my favorite mantras to say to myself during a tough run:

                                      I have many moments of doubt and even more moments of wanting to just quit when I’m doing during tempo and speed workouts.

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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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