- First, pace running can help your body increase something called 'lactic acid threshold'. Basically, your body stores excess energy as fat - common knowledge, I know. However, that crampy, I feel like I'm going to puke, and 'running sucks' feeling is the point that your body is likely shifting the source of its fuel. So, instead of burning fat for fuel, it starts to burn glucose - glucose is a fast source of energy and when it's being used, lactic acid is the byproduct (this is partially the reason one can run and run and run and never lose the fat off of their body - its because you're not burning it) For those counting at home, lactic acid build-up equals cramps. Treadmill? Right - basically, if you know what speed/pace you start to get 'runner's suck' the treadmill can help to increase your body's threshold in tolerating lactic acid. Find that pace, and run 5-15 seconds slower for 2/3's the distance of your longer runs. Increase your mileage, the more steady state run mileage increases and the monotony of the treadmill's speed, can assist with that process greatly. For those of you reading this that are training for longer race distances or increasing mileage, give it a try.
- Second, treadmills force a runner to be creative. Most runners, while often up for new route discovery, tend to run the same 3-5 routes all the time. Treadmills can be awful for runs 25 minutes or longer. But it is possible to do a nice speed workout on a treadmill. Here's an easy one. See if you can position yourself near a television. Run for 5-7 minutes for a nice easy warm-up pace. Once everything is nice and loose, increast your speed to roughly 80% of your max effort while the show is on. Commercial time? Slow the speed down to something about middle of the way between 80% of your max effort and your warm-up pace. Show back on? Ratchet it back up. Do this for the duration of the show, and if it's a sitcom, you've ran at a very challenging pace for 23-25 minutes. Not a bad way to trick your body into a little speedwork.
- Lastly, many runners run with their iPod or other music device. Music is awesome. Some podcasts are equally awesome, and the treadmill is the best time (in my opinion) to use those devices. If you can afford it, Nike+ makes some nice audio workouts that you can buy in the iTunes store. I have two that I use. One is a ramp-up mix about 42 minutes long that is all music by the Hives. The other is Increase Your Speed.
- On the average 7.5 mph on a treadmill will work out to an 8 min/mile pace. 8.0 mph is a 7:30 mile. Most of you have an idea of your pace or PR and that can get you pointed in the right direction.
- A GREAT resource is the McMillan Running Calculator. This tool allows you to plug in some information and it will give you target paces for virtually every kind of run you may do - tempo, speed interval, steady state, long, recovery - you name it, its there.
- Consider your goals for running. Wellness? Racing? Distance? Stress Relief? Whatever the case may be, learn about what your body is doing and how it works to reach your goals whether its losing inches from your waist, or beating that PR. Dropping some cash on a device (or some devices) that can provide you with some analytics can really make a big difference. I love my Garmin Forerunner 110. My wife has a Mio heart rate monitor that she wears on her wrist. There are a TON of calculators online to figure your target heart rate for fat burning or cardio (or where that metabolic shift from fat to glucose burning happens). I am amazed at the number of runners head out with goals in mind, but no plan - it's kind of like taking your family on vacation, and just driving in the car.
Have fun, and keep warm!