Hate the Treadmill Less! [Part 2 of the Treadmill Episode]

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We’ve heard from many people who enjoyed our Q&A episode about the treadmill.

In this episode we bring you part two of our amazing treadmill series and share tips and on how to maximize its effectiveness, run stronger, and learn to hate the treadmill less!

Hate the Treadmill Less!

2018 marks the 200th anniversary of the treadmill (but I don’t think anyone we be celebrating). An article from Mental Floss gives the inglorious history of the treadmill.

In 1818, an English civil engineer named Sir William Cubitt devised a machine called the “tread-wheel” to reform stubborn and idle convicts. Prisoners would step on the 24 spokes of a large paddle wheel, climbing it like a modern StairMaster. As the spokes turned, the gears were used to pump water or crush grain. (Hence the eventual name treadmill.)

In grueling eight-hour shifts, prisoners would climb the equivalent of 7,200 feet. The exertion, combined with poor diets, often led to injury and illness (as well as rock-hard glutes), but that didn’t stop penitentiaries all over Britain and the United States from buying the machines. In 1824, prison guard James Hardie credited the device with taming New York’s more defiant inmates. He wrote that it was the treadmill’s “monotonous steadiness, and not its severity, which constitutes its terror.” 

Over the years, American wardens gradually stopped using the treadmill in favor of other backbreaking tasks, such as picking cotton, breaking rocks, or laying bricks. In England, the treadmill persisted until the late 19th century, when it was abandoned for being too cruel. The machine was all but lost to history. But when Dr. Kenneth Cooper demonstrated the health benefits of aerobic exercise in the 1960s, the treadmill made a triumphant return. Today, well-paid personal trainers have happily taken the place of prison wardens.”

Oh the Lengths We Will Go To Avoid the Dreadmill!

photo creditQuinn Schneider @TheQSchneider

I’m sure that running on the treadmill has felt like punishment to many runners at some point or the other. I have to admit that it’s not my favorite mode of getting my miles in.
So, maybe you go out of your way to avoid running on the treadmill, like a high school runner who recently shoveled an entire track lane after a major snowstorm to avoid doing his miles on the TM.

It Makes Mice Healthy, So Why Not Give it a Try!

But, there is evidence that running (even on a treadmill) is good for you. Ottawa researchers found that a molecule triggered by running helps repair some brain damage in mice. The molecule, called VGF nerve growth factor, had previously been discovered to promote an anti-depressant response. It also assists with the healing of the protective coating that insulates nerve fibres promoting better motor coordination and balance. This might be especially applicable to people with conditions like multiple sclerosis and Parkinsons which show nerve degeneration.

The mice who ran on a tiny mousy treadmill lived longer than their sedentary siblings. The research also showed that when mice stopped exercising they began to notice debilitating symptoms again.

So, remember that getting those miles in, even on the treadmill, is good for you and hopefully after listening to this episode you’ll have a more positive attitude about treadmill training.

Don’t Try This At Home

How to Choose a Treadmill:

There are a dizzying array of treadmills to choose from.  I’d encourage you to do a few things before you decide to buy.

  1. Figure out what you can realistically spend.
  2. Go to a sporting goods store that has several treadmills in stock or try out different treadmill options at local gyms.  Wear your running shoes and try a variety of models to see which features you like and those you don’t really need.  For example, make sure that the length and width of the platform and belt are comfortable for your running stride.  Some models run a little short and small and you feel like you’re going to be ejected any minute.  Make sure that the controls are easy to understand and use.  Sometimes a treadmill with a plethora of programing options is something you probably won’t use.  Try the treadmill at a variety of speeds from walking to your fastest run and try the incline.  Make sure the machine doesn’t shake, clunk, or sounds like it can’t handle your speed or weight.

  3. Write down the model you like best and what you liked about it.  Start doing some research online and read reviews for that particular treadmill.  Often a wealth of information can be gleaned from others who have purchased a similar model.  Usually the cheapest and most expensive TM’s are ones you should avoid.
  4. Once you have a good idea of what you want, start checking for specials in local stores, online, ebay, and Craig’s List.  People often buy nice TM’s, use them a couple times, and then they become a clothes hanger.  You can often get a great deal just by knowing what you want, checking around, and waiting for a good deal.  I’m sure that by the time winter rolls around again you’ll have found something that will suit you well. A coaching client of mine said that if you choose to buy from Costco they will deliver it and help set it up.
  5. Some brands that come highly recommended include Woodway, Landice, Precor, Proform Official Boston Marathon Training Treadmill, and Matrix Fitness Treadmills from Johnson Tech.

Treadmill Tips from Academy Members . . .

I cover up the screen and try not to pay attention to how far I have or haven’t gone. That let’s me not only not see the distance or minutes but I put the speed based on where my effort feels right and not where “I think I should be running”. Then I play with that up and down. I also play with the incline to entertain myself and mix it up. Every .10 I’ll bump it a level and go up half a mile and back down the other half for a hill mile. Happy treadmill running my friend! You CAN do this! -Traci

Treadmill is a huge mind game since it is boring and you only see the room you are in. Movies help. -Lou

I have no problem running on a treadmill and have done a number of 20+ mile runs over the years with my longest being 25 miles. The secret is to learn to run on the treadmill, don’t wait until you are forced inside and then expect an easy transition. The treadmill can be a great training tool! Here are my hints.
-Try every treadmill in the gym. They will all feel a little different. Find your favorites. This helps you establish consistent treadmill running paces.

-Don’t expect an 8 min mile on the treadmill to feel like an 8 min mile outside. Establish your own conversion table.

-Find what will keep your mind occupied. I listen to audio books but TV or podcasts might work as well.

-Never do a 16 mile run, do 4×4 miles or 15 min x 10, for me breaking it down makes it more manegable.

-I drink and fuel on the treadmill exactly like I will for my next race. Gives me a little practice and again it breaks up the run by looking ahead to my next water or fuel break.

-Have a change of clothes for a long run, after 10 miles I’m pretty sweaty so fresh shorts and shirt really help.

-Have intervals of varying pace and incline during your run. Only slight changes are necessary to give some variety.

-Sometimes we are our own worst enemy on treadmill runs. We’re supposed to hate treadmill running right? Attitude is important. -Marty

I like watching sports documentaries or sometimes sports movies while on the mill. It motivates me. The Barkley Marathons, From Fat to Finish Line, Touch the Wall, Prefontaine, Finding Traction – they are all on Netflix and I always have some saved in my list for bad weather. For shorter workouts, a friend suggested the Sufferfest videos – mostly cycling but there are three running ones too. Intervals you don’t have to think about make the time fly by. -Katie

Also Mentioned in This Episode

Health IQ -Marathon Training Academy is sponsored by Health IQ an insurance company that helps health conscious people get special rates on life insurance. Go to healthiq.com/mta to support the show and learn more.

The Drury Hotel Company. They have 140 hotels in 21 states (we have stayed at dozens of their locations). Exceptional service, great treadmills, free wifi, huge breakfast and free evening food and drinks! Get 15% off your stay and a free gift from us.

Matrix Fitness Treadmills -Right now, you can save up to $400 on treadmills, bikes or ellipticals from Matrix Fitness plus we’ll ship it for free. We stand behind our products with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. Head over to www.johnsonfit.com/matrix to see the lineup and change the way you think about home fitness.

The Runner’s Toolbox -Free downloadable pdf reveals eight essential items to help fight injury. In order to get a copy of The Runner’s Toolbox all we need is your name and email and we’ll send it right over. We’ll also keep you informed about the best injury prevent strategies and practices. –>Yes! Send it.

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