I am a (treadmill) runner!
For someone who has to juggle work/on calls, training and family life like a tight rope performer, there isn’t really much luxury of training in the usual hours like the rest of the runner population. Often, I have to find creative ways to train indoors, especially during the on call days, in order to achieve the target weekly mileage. In my case, 100km.
We make do with whatever available means. Even if it isn’t the optimal condition, we have to just bear with it, get over it and move on. Due to an increasingly busy practice, these days I am resorting to treadmill training for more than 90% of all my runs. Occasionally, even for long runs, I have managed to cover 30km on the treadmill. Don’t ask me how…
Here are some useful tips on how to train on the treadmill. (link).
However, one has to wonder if such training could actually produce the desired effect. After all, we want to see results. Most runners I know would not hesitate to say or at least imply that treadmill running is too “controlled” and it is far from the real deal. Running still means OTR running. (OTR: On the Road)
Of course, there is no denying that we need to be conditioned as much as possible to the real OTR experience. There are no treadmill marathons, well, unless you are like Dean Karnazes who has done marathons on the treadmill. I pity the poor machine that had to put up with such constant pounding.
Therefore, I am a tat skeptical of any so call best time recorded from a treadmill work out. For example, I could run 10km in 38:40, 15km in 59:15 and even 21km in 1:27. All these figures “seem” impressive, but they have to be taken at a discounted scale because treadmill running is supposedly easier.
The link above suggested that for the incline, adjustment should be made to mimic the OTR experience. i.e. the incline should be 1-2%. If your treadmill is of the “higher end” type with more functions like random/hill work outs, then your runs would be less monotonous and more OTR-like.
I am eager to find out in the next few weeks if all the treadmill training with seemingly “improved” time would actually translate into a better performance in Gold Coast. I would love to prove the skeptics wrong. But in any case, even if they were right, it’s not as though I have any other option, I would still have to just get on with it.
That said, on the flipped side of the coin, there are some obvious benefits of running on treadmill. For instance, you could run at any hour of the day/night, regardless of the weather (as long as the thunderstorm doesn’t abruptly short circuit your power supply), no need to prepare for water stations nor carry 1kg extra weight on a fuel belt, and above all, the temperature is always optimally suited to your liking, (thanks to air conditioning), and one other thing that I personally find most helpful is the reduction of impact on my feet, resulting in less injuries like PF, ITB syndrome etc.
So, whatever your view on treadmill training, do drop a line or two to share your experience. Who knows, it may be the way of the future….or not.