What I Think About When I Think About My Treadmill

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Treadmills: love em or hate em?

Treadmills definitely seem to be polarizing among runners. I’d almost say either you love them or you hate them, but there is a middle ground, and that’s where I think I fall.

My treadmill story in a nutshell
So what’s my treadmill story? In a nutshell, when I first started to run, most of it was on my trusty treadmill. Which I’d bought so that I could walk during the hot Austin summers (and yes, it got a lot of use when I was a walker). Then I began to run more on the road, and the treadmill got relegated to bad weather days. Eventually I noticed some improvement when doing speedwork on the treadmill, but it’s still relegated to bad weather days. But should it be?

A Useful tool in the beginning
When I started running, it was just at the tail end of our time in Austin. I don’t think I actually ran on the treadmill then. What I did was just throw a little bit of running intervals — with absolutely no plan whatsoever — into my daily dogwalks.

I even remember taking the dogs to the “track” at a nearby grade school. And by track, I mean an unpaved circle that I guess was for the kids to either run or walk around. It most definitely wasn’t 400 meters. But I’d put the dog in a stay and I run around it once. Then twice. And so on. It was a win-win: I was running and training the dogs at the same time.

Then we moved, and I eventually decided to train for the Freihofer’s 5k. Initially all my training was on the treadmill, because, you know, I wasn’t really a runner. Eventually I knew I had to run on the road since it was a road race, and so I did.

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When I’m here, it means it’s cold, snowy, rainy, or windy — or all of the above

Bye-Bye treadmill — except for weather
Nowadays it’s no longer scary to run on the road. Or the trails (kind of). Or on a track. A very small percentage of my runs are on Old Faithful (because she’s about 18 years old and has been resuscitated more than once).

I don’t love her, although I love the fact that she’s an option. I don’t hate her, either. But I do prefer to run outside when I can.

Is the treadmill a handy tool?
One thing I’ve come to realize, though, is that running on the treadmill allows me to better control my pace. It makes speed work easier — not because of the moving belt I’m running on, although there’s that, but because I set it at a certain pace so unless I stop or fall off, I’m going to hit that pace.

I’ve also noticed benefits beyond simply easily controlling my pace: I feel it actually helps me get faster. I’ve noticed when I’ve had a period when I’m forced (or choose to, let’s be honest here) to run on the treadmill once a week, at a pace I might very well not hit out on the road, I find myself actually running faster, easier, when I am out on the run.

Oh, not every run, to be sure. But I have noticed a definite pattern of improvement with steady treadmill use. In the back of my mind, sometimes I think that I should run on the treadmill once a week — to help me with paces and to give my body a break from pounding the road. I don’t think that will actually happen, mind you, but I do think about it.

It also amuses me that some of the runners I know would never, ever set a foot on a treadmill but wouldn’t think twice about hopping onto a stationary bike or bike trainer. Bike trainers don’t seem to evoke the same emotions as treadmills do. Maybe because there are tools to help us runners battle almost any weather, but it’s absolutely far more treacherous to be on a bike in the same conditions.

Talk to me:

Where do you fall in the great treadmill debate?

Have you noticed benefits to running on a treadmill?

Do you feel differently about a bike trainer than you do about a treadmill?

I’m linking up with with MCM Mama Runs, Marcia’s Healthy Slice, and My No Guilt Life for the Tuesdays on the Run linkup.

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This week I am also joining up with Running on Happy, Suzlyfe, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs each week for the Coaches’ Corner linkup

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25 thoughts on “What I Think About When I Think About My Treadmill

  1. I actually don’t mind the treadmill. I’ve done very long runs in it. It definitely comes in handy when the weather just sucks. Also, I like it because as you mentioned, you can set it to run a specific pace and that is helpful when doing speedwork.

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  2. You know I loathe running on the treadmill. I’ll do it when I have to because it is a means to an end. I ran for many years without one–I only got it because I had a baby and couldn’t always get outside for a run. I see all the advantages, I totally get it, but I don’t just run to train, it’s the whole experience.

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    1. I’m not judging how people choose to run. 🙂 I kind of get amused at how polarizing the treadmill can be for runners.

      That and I didn’t have a post written and that just popped into my mind . . .

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  3. I don’t mind treadmills as long as it get the job done. I’d rather go on there than outside in the rain or cold. However I have a hard time running consist on it. It is more of an interval training, which I don’t do that outside so I guess that is a good thing.

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  4. I’m similar… I would rather be outside but I’m definitely grateful to have the treadmill as an option. I used it a lot more than I thought I would this winter with all the snow we got hit with!

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    1. Our weather was so oddly back & forth this winter, and then there was the whole Feb not running much, so I probably didn’t use it as much as I would have had I been training regularly.

      Right now I’m just so sick of cold runs. And dreading the fact that it feels pretty darn chilly today, but there’s a possibility of another mill run Thursday if it rains, so I’ll get myself outside at some point today . . .

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  5. While I don’t love my mill, I am fond of it far more than I loathe it. It’s where I started when I resumed running in my 30’s. There were days when the kids were babies that getting out was not an option. It’s a wonderful convenience. I too love speedwork on it.

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    1. There are times when one furkid or another has something going on and I need to keep an eye on them — another time I use the mill (and sometimes don’t want to, but don’t want to clean up a mess even more).

      Sounds like we feel about the same about it. I will admit I sometimes choose it because I’m just so frickin’ tired of being cold. 😦

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  6. That’s kind of how I feel too, I’m in the middle with treadmills. They’re definitely a handy tool and I like having it as an option. But I would almost always prefer to run outside 🙂

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  7. I feel like a treadmill is a must have for me for winter. I hate it, but I also a total wimp when it comes to snow/cold so if I don’t have it, I will never train for anything for spring!

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  8. The treadmill has been the saving grace in bad runs. My blood thinned out in Texas, and I’m not as tough as I used to be. I would prefer doing my long runs outside, but the treadmill is an option when the weather is bad.

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    1. Remember I lived in TX for 17 years. And now I’ve lived here almost half that amount of time. Your blood doesn’t really thin (although elevation can come into play — but that won’t thin your blood!), but relatively it feels harder.

      I almost never do a long run on the treadmill, though. I have my limits. 🙂

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  9. I think the treadmill is a great tool and I wish I had one at home! While I definitely prefer to run outside year-round, sometimes the weather is sucky and it would just be better (and safer) to stay indoors. I also think that if I’m feeling too lazy to run, it would be good to have the treadmill for accountability. Now I just need to find one to buy for home!

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    1. A lot of people recommend SOLE. Mine is ancient, but I suppose the fact that it still works (thanks to Mr. Judy resuscitating it — twice!) attests to its quality.

      I doubt I would go to a gym to run on a treadmill. It’s much better at home!

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  10. Although I am thankful to have one at the ready, I (almost always) loathe being on it. Once in awhile, I’ll do some intervals, and those aren’t too painful (relatively speaking), but I simply do not have the mental stamina to endure more than 4-5 miles on it. Also, having freakishly long legs is tricky…I often stub my toes on the front of it and that has me fearing a potential face-plant catastrophe.

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    1. I’m not super happy about being on it for anything much longer than 4 miles, and tempo runs are especially challenging, but I get soooooo tired of being cold. Our winter is basically going on 5 months now . . .

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  11. Well you know how I feel. I don’t even own one.

    I run a lot slower on the tm than on the road. And the only speed work I do is running races. It works for me

    I don’t enjoy the cold winter but it doesn’t bother me when I run.

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