Reasons to Add Equipment Like a Treadmill to Your Running Routine

Every runner knows the joy of running outside. The air is fresh, the breeze cools your back, and the scenery is delightful. It is a time out of the house or the office and a time to think. It’s simultaneously energizing and relaxing.

Using gym equipment like a treadmill

But what happens when you can’t run outside? Perhaps the weather is way too cold and wet or too hot and humid. What if your schedule is too hectic for a long cleansing run that day? What if you are a stay-at-home mom who cannot get babysitting for a run outside alone?

Bring in the treadmill.

The treadmill can be a bit controversial. Some people love it and some people hate it. There is no doubt that it can be boring and mind numbing, if overused. But, used properly, a treadmill can totally enhance your workout routine.

Consider these reasons:

New Equipment Gets You Excited

Let’s face it: having new equipment gets you excited to work out. Consider a mother trying to get her daughter into gymnastics. What would get the girl more excited to practice gymnastics at home other than buying her a cool piece of equipment to use? Nothing in the world. For example, say the mom decides on getting her a bar. while it may be slightly stressful for the mom to have to scour the web for good home gymnastics bar reviews and then buying it, the daughter is going to be excited to use it and will be able to do so whenever (like the convenience of having a treadmill at home).

For the Run/Walk Method of Running

For people who use the Run/Walk method of running (a.k.a. Jeff Galloway) the treadmill can be a dream. It can be cumbersome to constantly check your watch to keep tabs on your intervals. If you are using a nicer model treadmill it should have an interval timer option. Just set that interval timer for your walk/run splits and how long or how far you want to go and you will not have to worry about keeping track of the time. Just set it and go. Be sure to stay alert, though, because you do not want to be caught off guard by a running interval and fall off the treadmill.

Hill Training

Some avid runners are not blessed to live in an area that has rolling hills perfect for hill training. Some runners live near sea level and the ground is flatter than a pancake. What should they do to train for hills that are bound to be present at some important race. Treadmill. Just about all treadmills have the option to increase incline. Give your legs a good workout by boosting up the incline a few times during your indoor run. Try a few of these hill workouts on Running Planet.

Speed Training

Speed training can be a challenge also if you do not live near a running track or just do not have access to one. The road could work if you have a good length of straight road but you still have to watch out for traffic. Having to dodge on coming cars can really mess up your concentration when running a fast drill. Consistent pace is also important in speed drills and that is hard to maintain on the road or track. The treadmill to the rescue. You can increase your speed throughout your workouts to simulate the drills you could do on the track. Push the speed button to the speed you want to run whenever you need a boost of speed or program the interval function with an entire workout of speed drills. The treadmill also offers the consistent pacing so important for speed training.

Watch a Movie or Favorite TV Show Series

Maximize the time you spend watching a movie or a favorite TV series by running on the treadmill at the same time. Think about it. Not only do you get to enjoy the entertainment but you also get the cardiovascular benefit of running at the same time. You just redeemed that time spent watching the TV. Running on the treadmill does not have to be a time of mind numbing wall staring. Next time the weather is too cold or hot for an outside run pop in your favorite movie or TV show, turn up the volume, and jump on the treadmill. The time will fly by.

Perfect for Stay-At-Home Mothers

The treadmill can be a life saver for stay-at-home mothers. It is hard to find someone to watch your children while you go running outside. Your husband is gone all day and when he gets home it may be too late to run or you might be too tired from watching little children all day. Once again, the treadmill to the rescue. It is ideal if you have a treadmill at home. Schedule your day so that there is time for your children to watch a favorite cartoon or movie and you can run on the treadmill. Your children will be entertained and happy and you can get a run in. Or you could run during your children’s nap time if you are not needing a nap yourself. If a home treadmill is not an option you can join a gym that offers childcare service. Drop the kids off in the childcare room and run on the treadmill for thirty minutes. You can listen to music or watch the TV’s. Whatever the case the treadmill at home or at a gym solves the childcare problem for Stay-At-Home Moms. When the husband has more free time go outside for a long run.

Bottom line: Treadmills aren’t perfect, and they should not be the only way you run. But when used properly and combined with other types of running workouts, they can be a very useful piece of equipment.

Five Keys to Successful Barefoot Running

Barefoot running on the beach

With a new year upon us, many of us have made a decision to get more healthy for the new year. And, one of the easiest, most efficient, and best ways to stay healthy is to simply get outside (or to the gym) and run. It doesn’t take that much equipment and the return on the investment for your body and mind is substantial.

A recent movement in the sports world has been a movement to doing the activity more naturally through barefoot running. The idea behind running without shoes is to allow the body to teach itself better form from the ground up. With better form, a light landing, and a proper gait both the impact and the chance of injury is substantially reduced for the athlete. Based on the research, findings, and recent barefoot running book written by Dr. Craig Richards of Australia and myself, here are some key pointers to keep in mind as you attempt to transition to barefoot and minimalist running.

1. Transition Slowly

Give your body plenty of time to adjust to barefoot running. It is best to start out walking without shoes around the house, driveway, and even your yard before hitting the roads bare. Once you can walk a long while without shoes, begin altering the terrain on which you walk. You might even discover how barefoot hiking off road can really awaken the 250,000 nerves of the feet.

2. Think Ergonomics

This is a strange thing to thing to think about but if you want to run for the long haul, meaning until you are well beyond old and gray, think about how you can move more naturally. When running, always keep your body’s posture in line with the rest of the body. Barefoot running will teach you to keep you feet beneath the body with a forefoot strike (landing on the heel is just too painful). When you keep an aligned torso and the feet below your center of gravity, the knees will always stay bent. Throughout the entire running cycle, the knees should always be bent, the feet below the body, and the leg never extended out in front of your hips.

3. Count Your Steps

Running barefoot or even in minimalist footwear will allow you to land more lightly because the weight of the shoes (or your feet) allows the body to monitor how hard your feet hit the ground. When you run, count your steps. This is called cadence. When you run without shoes, aim to have your feet patter along the ground at 180 beats per minute. This might be easier if you count only one foot’s landing at 90 times per minute. Such a cadence ensures that you are taking enough steps to lessen the impact transient absorbed by your lower legs and body.

4. Take Days Off

One of the most important things that you need to do when first starting out with barefoot running is to take days off between barefoot outings. This does not mean that you cannot workout at all, but try to avoid running one day barefoot without taking the next day off. This day break is important for the body as the smaller tissue of the feet and legs heal and adjust to your new venture. It takes lots of time. Do not be impatient and augment your time without shoes gradually, even as slow as one to two minutes per week. Such small investments with rest will ensure a safe transition.

5. Listen to your Body

Essentially, barefoot running is a way that you can really listen to your body. By figuratively putting your ears to your feet, you can feel how your body, form, and emotions change when you toss your trainers aside. Listening to your body should help you gauge your workouts and help you limit pushing yourself too far (as the ego is wont to do). Be mindful of your body and patient with your feet and the rewards of a more natural running style, less injury, and more joy for your runs will transpire.

Overall, barefoot running is more than a fad or trend. People are discovering its benefits every day. Be sure to follow these pointers and if you need help with transitioning. And, if you want to have an idea of the entire movement and how you can adapt it to help you meet your running goals, be sure to check out our guide, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Barefoot Running (Penguin), which is a part of a best-selling series on sports.

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Beginning Running for Dummies

So you want to start running? Good for you! Running is a great way to exercise and stay healthy.

Beginning runners

If you haven’t been exercising regularly, you might want to think about a few things before you lace up your shoes. Of course, I am obliged to tell you to get a physical exam before you embark on a new exercise program.

Beyond that, here are a few tips:

1. Get some new shoes. You might have those 1989 high top tennis shoes in your closet that you think are perfectly adequate, but trust me—they’re not. And do not even think about buying yourself running shoes at Wal-mart. Shoes will be the most important investment you make in your new hobbie, so invest smartly. I recommend going to a running store that specializes in fitting your feet with appropriate shoes (depending on your arches, pronation style, etc.). I ran for about 5 years before I did this. And, when I finally was fit for shoes, I learned that I had been wearing shoes about a size too small. This is why I had bloody blisters on my toes! I had figured all runners had those!

2. Start slow. I mean, very slow. One of the more common mistakes I see new runners make is simply running too fast. I had a friend a few years back who started running and couldn’t figure out how I could easily run 7-8 miles. He said he couldn’t even make it half a mile. I went running with him, and it was easy to diagnose the problem. I could barely keep up with him for that half mile. He was starting out running 7 minute miles! I would say an appropriate pace for most new runners is about 11-12 minute miles. You will make more progress running three 12 minute miles than half a 7 minute mile, so slow down!

3. Walk. Many new runners refuse to walk because it seems like cheating. Walking is actually a great strategy for new runners. Try running for 5 minutes and then walking for 1 minute. Do this 5-6 times. This is a great way to build up your stamina. As you progress, run more and walk less. You’ll improve faster if you walk when you get tired and begin running again in a minute than if you just quit because you can’t continue. Just keep moving!

4. Don’t compare yourself. You will always know people who can run faster and farther than you can. So what? Get over it. You have to realize that you are running at your own pace and for your own reasons. You may or may not participate in races. If you do participate, you may or may not be competitive. But, it doesn’t matter; you’re still a runner. Don’t be afraid to see yourself this way. For years, I’ve said stuff like, “Oh, I’m not a REAL runner, I run 10 minute miles.” I finally gave that up. I am a REAL runner, as much as someone who runs 6 minute miles. We both get out there and run because it’s important to us.

Finally, just get out there and run. If you have problems with injuries or training dilemmas, get on the internet and do some research to see how to work through these issues. But you can worry about all that later. For now, the most important thing is just to run.