Old school, competitive runners generally prefer the outdoors for scenic beauty, sunshine and fresh air, variable conditions that test our spirit and adaptability, camaraderie of fellow enthusiasts, and practical locomotion to common destinations. With so many seeming advantages, why would anyone choose to do a treadmill workout when they can go outside? Simple: it can conveniently improve basic human endurance in a predictable manner within a controlled environment.
Convenient, predictable, and controlled because on a treadmill the user decides, at a whim, the distance and duration of their run, on the time and frequency hills are encountered, the duration and angle of that incline, and the pace to be set absent a partner, all while drag from wind and air resistance and harsh weather are non-existent, there are no stops for street crossings or obstacles, and a bottle of water can be at arm’s length without carrying the weight on your hip.
Although elevation, terrain and the elements factor in heavily, running is essentially focused on distance and time; whereas weight training is focused on resistance and repetition. The beginner or aspiring runner’s concern should be committing themselves to one of the following:
- Covering a given distance regardless of time
- Moving oneself for a given time regardless of distance
In other words, you need to say to yourself one of the following:
- “I’m going to try to jog a mile; but, if I end up walking to complete the mile, that’s okay for now. I don’t care how long it takes me.”
- “I’m going to try to walk or jog for twenty minutes; but, if I end up only covering a mile, that’s okay for now. I just need to stay active for twenty minutes.”
If you repeat the distance or time, say, every day, your conditioning will improve. As that happens, you will either
- Cover the same distance in less time
- Cover more distance in the same time
Either is measurable progress and measurable progress is what matters. As your body becomes more efficient and better conditioned, the routine becomes easier, and your concern should shift to going farther in less time!
A treadmill workout can affect such progress, allowing precision adjustment of both distance and time for a variety of goals and conditioning levels. Let’s look at a few treadmill workout possibilities…
1) 30 Minutes of Walking Intervals for the Beginner
Competitive athletes running on track or cross-country often alternate segments of running with segments of jogging in order to improve their on-demand or “passing” speed, as well as push their endurance limits with such intervals of higher cardiovascular and respiratory demand. They might go into a full sprint for a block, then jog the next block, sprint, jog, and so on.
Beginners can similarly use intervals of switched speed and inclination while walking to safely elevate their heart rate and prepare them for an eventual continuous, brisk (fast) walk or for a bit of jogging.
2) 15 Minutes of Jogging and Running Intervals to Boost Endurance and Power
Those individuals mainly training with weights for the purpose of greater muscular size and improved absolute strength likely won’t want to “waste” calories exerting themselves on a long, fast, grueling run. Depending on how much oxygen-hungry muscle they’re carrying on their frame, they might not be able to go far even if they tried.
Nevertheless, even weight trainers can get undesirably sluggish and winded by heavy weights and high repetitions. Or, they may be carrying undesirable fat. In either case a brief, moderate, treadmill workout appended to the end of their usual routine with weights can be beneficial to endurance, power, and intramuscular coordination. Improved lung capacity will also improve body rigidity on maximal lifts.
3) 30 Minutes of Jogging Intervals for Cardiovascular and Respiratory Development
Do you need a bigger challenge for your heart and lungs now that you’ve been on the treadmill for a few weeks or months? Are you indifferent to maintaining your muscular bulk? If so, the following treadmill workout will help train you to run farther at a quicker pace. The interspersed walking allows you to catch your breath without dropping your heart rate.
4) 45 Minutes of Jogging, Running, and Hill-Climbing Intervals
While treadmills limit your stride training, serious runners can help their self develop more powerful leaps and bounds by using the treadmill’s incline features to simulate hills. Hills really improve your calves, which do a lot of work when running. The following treadmill workout will put your endurance to the test!
Be aware that the speeds in all the treadmill workouts above are purposely approximated within a range; the average man can cover 1 mile in about 10 minutes. In other words, a “jog” for most guys would be 6 miles per hour. This speed will certainly vary between men and women, young and old, fit and infirm. Also, a 1 degree incline roughly approximates typical wind resistance on level ground when outdoors.
If you stay dedicated to your training, you may eventually find all of the above treadmill workouts rather easy. When that day comes, the treadmill will accommodate your super physique, throwing you the challenge of a faster pace over greater distance on an endless hill.