My First Treadmill Run of the Year

So far, I’ve been good about running in the cold. Even though I have a basic treadmill in my basement, I prefer to run outside, and I’ve continued to run through the winter.

But this week, New Jersey got hit by a pretty good snowstorm. I went out for my interval workout yesterday – in the cold – and then it started in the afternoon. By the time I woke up this morning, there was about a foot of snow outside.

I’d already anticipated this, and I wasn’t planning on running outside. So after I cleared out the driveway and rested a bit, it was time for my daily run – my first treadmill run of the year.

How Did the Treadmill Run Go?

I figured today was a good day for a treadmill run because my planned run for today was an easy recovery run.

I went for a moderately easy run on Tuesday and I did a hard workout yesterday. So today, I planned on running an easy 4 to 5 miles.

I set the speed to 6.0 – approximately 10 minutes per mile – and started jogging. It felt faster than 10 minutes per mile, and I noticed my heart rate drifting slowly up a bit, but it was still an easy jog.

By comparison, on Tuesday I did an easy run outside. Over 5 miles, I averaged 9:34/mile. Although my heart rate peaked higher over some hills, I averaged 141 bpm.

Today, I ran approximately 4.5 miles – my treadmill isn’t calibrated, so this might be a bit off – in 45 minutes. My heart rate started out in the 130’s, then crept up to the 140’s, and it hovered around 150 for the last mile or two. My average heart rate over the full run was 145.

It’s possible that my heart rate was higher due to fatigue. It could also have been the relative humidity in the gym. I suppose there are a number of reasons why it was higher, but I thought that was interesting.

I was a bit surprised, since the general consensus is that treadmill running at a given pace is easier than running outside.

I did find myself getting bored more on the treadmill, which is to be expected. I planned on listening to a book on tape, but my headset wasn’t cooperating. Running without music on a treadmill was definitely a test of my mental toughness. But I did my best to zone out, and eventually I hit the 45 minute mark and stopped.

Overall, the workout did exactly what it was supposed to. I put in some easy miles and I got my heart rate up. In the future, if the weather isn’t cooperating I won’t hesitate to do my easy runs on the treadmill. I probably will make sure my headset is working, though.

Reflections on This Morning’s Treadmill Run

A few other thoughts about today’s run.

I have a basic treadmill, without an incline. It’s big enough to run at an easy pace, but I don’t think I could lengthen my stride and run at too fast of a pace.

As a result, I think it’s a good choice for easy runs. I might try it for a tempo run in the future. But I don’t know how well it would work for repetitions or intervals.

The advantage to treadmill running is that it maintains a constant pace. My cadence varied a little bit, and so did my stride rate, but my speed stayed more or less constant. This has definite advantages for tempo runs where you want to hold a steady pace.

It also kept me from speeding up on the easy run. I’ve noticed a few times recently where I picked up the pace by accident, and I had to hold myself back. The disadvantage, though, is that it prevents me from naturally slowing down. I probably should have used the controls to reduce the pace a little bit, but I ended up moving along at the same pace despite my heart rate creeping up. You need to be a little more intentional about monitoring perceived effort and making adjustments.

I also compared my cadence to a previous run. I noticed that outside, my easy runs average about 180 steps per minute. On the treadmill today, my cadence was about 170 steps per minute. For whatever reason, I seem to take longer strides on the treadmill.

I was pleasantly surprised that the treadmill felt comfortable and didn’t hurt my knee. It hurt when I tried running on it early in the year, when I was first starting out. So hopefully that’s a sign my knee is getting stronger and more resilient.

Finally, I was also happy to see that my Garmin tracked my workout fairly accurately. I tracked the activity as Treadmill Running, and I assume it estimates your distance based on cadence and things like that. The first mile was tracked at 10:30, which makes sense since the belt takes a few seconds to speed up. But after that, it tracked my pace as 10:10 for 2 miles, and 10:03 for the final mile.

Again, my treadmill isn’t calibrated, so I’m not 100% confident in its distance reading, either. But I think both the treadmill and the Garmin are close enough – especially considering I’m just using it for an easy run. The Garmin asked me to confirm the distance when the activity was done, so you can update the distance if you know your treadmill is more accurate.

I’ve heard people ask whether or not treadmill miles are “junk” miles, and I can say they were definitely effective for an easy run workout. I wouldn’t want to do all of my training inside on a treadmill, but it’s definitely a good option for when the weather is bad outside.

If you’re looking for a treadmill of your own, check out this of treadmills that you can get on Amazon for under $500. Any of them would make a great addition to your home gym.

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