The winter often means the return to the treadmill for many. This could be for various reasons: shortened daylight hours, slippery footing, snowy feet, and the challenge of finding the right mix of wardrobe so you’re not too hot, not too cold, but just right. I will run outside occasionally in the winter these days, but most of my winter running does involve the treadmill. When I was at the Y, I could pass the time by chatting with a friend, watching tv, or even reading a magazine. At home I do none of those things, but I have had a great transition back to the treadmill anyway. How is that possible?!
First, it’s definitely all about mindset. Isn’t everything? A 3 hour drive to Grandma’s takes FOREVER, so how about those 12 hour driving days we did with the kids to go to Florida last month? They rocked it. Because when they got in the car, they had in their minds that they would be sitting in the car literally the entire day. We prepped with things to do, but there wasn’t complaining about how long it was taking because they knew it would take all day. If you hop on the treadmill to “get it over with,” it’s going to take forever. If you prep yourself with distractions and plan on being there awhile, it’s a lot easier to handle.
Second, I need the cooler temperatures. If it’s 70 degrees, I feel like I’m dying because it’s so uncomfortably hot. Turn off the heat in your house, crank a fan at you on high, and run without a shirt on. If it’s a tougher run, consider even opening a window and possibly putting a fan in front of it. The run will also feel easier as your body doesn’t have to work so hard just to cool itself. And don’t forget to turn the heat back on in your house when you are done!
Third, music has been a game changer. In all honesty, this is the ONLY time I use music while running. USAT doesn’t allow you to race with music, so I quit listening to music when running outdoors several years ago and I have never gone back. It makes music a treat when it comes to the treadmill though and I really look forward to it! Tying into that, jamming with music in my ears has me visualizing myself in races, especially when I am doing harder runs. I might be stuck going nowhere on a treadmill, but in my mind I have raced many 800m runs on the track, ran the run course at Nationals countless times, and now I am adding the Three Lakes triathlon course to my options. I can understand the appeal of Zwift and seeing yourself “run courses” on a computer screen, but I feel that I can quite easily be transported mentally to a race when I want to.
Lastly, give yourself some challenges! Last December, I challenged myself to climb 1,000 feet in a run. That was my focus one day each week. I kept everything at an easy pace, but made that my “hard” day. In early January, I climbed 1,000 feet in just over 4 miles! I do not do enough hill work in general, so this also helps to mentally and physically address a weaker area of mine. This time around, I was able to start at 500 feet of climbing in my first run, with my intent of hitting 1,000 again after a month. Then in January, I plan to transition back into threshold running. It’s a fun change of pace and it gives me something to work toward and get excited about.
So if you are dreading making the switch to treadmill running and don’t have access to Zwift, a Peloton or online workouts, a TV, etc, I hope you will find some relief in my tips above. What are some things that you have found to work for you?