Most serious runners don’t consider treadmill running as “real” running. We would rather suit-up in the Cold Gear, hats, and gloves and brave the winter weather than stare at the same wall from the treadmill for 6, 8 or 10 miles. Treadmills are fine for casual joggers or walkers that just want to get their 20-30 minutes in three times a week. But runners want to map out a run and cover ground.
All that sounds great until you wake up to 3 inches of snow and it’s still coming down. You can dress for the cold, but running in snow is tricky and often dangerous. Hit one patch of ice under that snow and you’re on your back with a cracked skull or trying to break your fall with a stiff arm and breaking your wrist instead. So, you face a dilemma, skip that day’s run or fire up the treadmill.
That’s what I did yesterday morning. My first treadmill run of this early winter season. I was not looking forward to it but after a couple mile warm-up I remembered that the treadmill has an incline adjustment. So, for the next couple miles I did some hill work, alternating quarter-miles. I never do hill work outside (southeast Michigan is not know for it’s rolling landscape). So there is at least one advantage of treadmills – instant hills.
Then I found myself watching the treadmill screen as the tenths-of-miles clicked off on the distance display. It occurred to me that knowing the exact distance you’re covering could also be an advantage. When I run intervals outside I ballpark my 440s and 800s but on the treadmill I can do exact intervals. So, for the next couple miles I hit the pace buttons up and down each quarter-mile and did some serious intervals. Another advantage of treadmills.
At the end of that workout, I had done my seven miles for the day, done some good hill training and even got some interval work, all without leaving my basement.
I’m not ready to give up winter outdoor running but there is a trade-off. I’ll head outside when the roads are clear but the trade-off of staying indoors and getting a controlled workout is not as bad as I remembered.