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Optimizing Treadmill Time

22 Mar

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If using a treadmill is part of your training routine, it is important to maximize your time on it.  Whether you run, walk or jog, using a treadmill can be a safe and effective way for cardio training as well as improving lower body muscle strength and endurance.

Here are a few general pointers:

-Always warm up.  You can warm up and do active stretching on the treadmill. This video will show some warm up movements and active stretches that will prepare the body for your workout.  The warm up should include lower body, core, and upper body movements.

-Be sure to stretch your arms up and back behind you to elongate your posture and ensure that your shoulders are not rounded forward while you workout.

-Keep an erect posture while you run.  If you feel your shoulders rounding, slow down and repeat the stretch stated above.

-Always cool down. Ease off your workout slowly.  Slow your pace down and/or reduce the incline slowly to zero.

-You can stretch while still moving slowly on the treadmill and you can stretch on the treadmill when it is stopped as seen in the video.

-Your workout can be completed within 20-40 minutes (not including warm up and cool down) depending on the intensity of your treadmill routine.  I recommend using a heart rate monitor to ensure that you are staying within your target heart rate zone.  If you are working in the higher end of your THR zone, then decrease the amount of time of your workout.  If you are working out on the lower end of your THR zone, then increase the amount of time of your workout.

HOW TO VARY YOUR TREADMILL ROUTINES: Overuse injuries are injuries that occur due to repetitive movements.  Overuse injuries may include joint/bone injuries, muscle or ligament injuries. These are quite common in runners because, well, running is repetitive and jarring on the joints.  Therefore, be sure to vary your treadmill routine (or your outdoor running routine) to prevent overuse injuries.  Here are some samples of various treadmill routines:

-Do an endurance run.  Here you run a comfortable pace, without changing the incline or the speed, for 20-40 minutes (less time if your intensity/speed is high and more time if your intensity is lower/speed is slower).

-Do hill drills.  Find a pace that is comfortable and go back in forth between incline and no incline.  You can slow down your pace as needed when you do your inclines.

-Do a gradual uphill.  Start out by jogging and then gradually and slowly create a higher and higher incline.  Each time you incline you may need to reduce your speed.  By the end it may be a slow walk with a steep incline.

-Do speed drills.  Find a speed that is slower than your average running pace and start there.  Then kick it up to a speed that is higher than your running pace.  Go back and forth between the two as it feels right–this is called fartlek training or speed-play.  When using fartlek drills you do not have to think about time/duration of the drills.  You can also do speed drills using pre-selected time intervals.  This is called traditional interval training.

**Remember: If you are a runner, it is crucial to continue to cross train (do other forms of cardio) and strength train.  Cross training and strength training will prepare muscles to enable you to run more efficiently and prevent muscle imbalances.**

Happy Treadmilling!