Friday, September 24, 2010

All about treadmills



If you run less in the winter because of cold, windy, snowy, icy, or rainy weather, you should think about treadmill training on occasion. Granted, many runners like to take a self-imposed break from training, particularly through the holiday season. A few weeks of R&R is a great idea, your body can use a short rest, but if you live in a state that has inclement weather for several months, you'll lose your cardiovascular fitness fairly quickly. No, I'm not suggesting that you run on a treadmill six days a week from January through March, but there are times when even the most hearty runners shouldn't venture outside to test their mettle against the elements.


You should run indoors when:

◦The roads, sidewalks and trails are icy. Running on ice is never a good idea, one fall and you could be out of commission with a pulled muscle or a broken bone for many weeks.
◦A blizzard is raging. Below zero temperatures, fifty mile-an-hour winds and drifting snow are hardly suitable even for a polar bear!
◦The temperature, with wind chill, is below -30°. Although you can stay relatively warm with several layers of clothing, you run the risk of severe frostbite of the skin on your face. You can protect your skin with a ski mask and/or a layer of petroleum jelly, but keep in mind that your movements will be restricted because of all the clothing. Under extreme wind chill conditions, a treadmill can be your best buddy!
◦Flash floods are predicted. If it's raining hard enough that you could be in danger of getting swept away, don't tempt fate - work out indoors.
◦You may also want to run indoors if the air temperature is below 40°, and it's raining fairly hard. Hypothermia is a possibility when you get both cold and wet.
Of course there may be some of you out there who hate the thought of running outdoors as soon as you see a few snow flakes and the temperature dips below freezing. In your case it won't be necessary to wait for the extreme conditions mentioned above to enjoy the benefits of treadmill running. But be careful-don't get too comfortable with running inside. Running on the smooth belt, with no wind in your face is much different than running on the road, track or a trail. Even if you would prefer to run indoors this winter, try to get outside at least once a week.


Getting Started

The first few times you run on a treadmill you'll probably feel uncoordinated, maybe even a little silly and you might be concerned that you're going to fly off the back! Don't worry, you're not alone. Everyone feels the same way the first time they use a treadmill. (In 1990, the afternoon following a major 10K in North Carolina, I went to a gym with two masters women runners who were ranked first and second in the US. One had trained on a treadmill before, the other hadn't. The two of us, who had trained on treadmills in the past, finally convinced the one who hadn't to give it a try. Imagine our surprise, and hers, when she literally flew off the back of the machine! Luckily she wasn't hurt and all three of us had a good laugh over it but her first experience with a treadmill is a good lesson for everyone: If a forty-two year old woman who could run a 10K in 33:30 had trouble initially learning how to use the treadmill, you probably will too!) The following guidelines will help make your first few times easier.

◦Start out walking. Even if you always run a 9:00 mile in training, don't set the speed at 6.6mph (the equivalent of a 9:05 road mile) and start running. You need to acclimate yourself to the feeling of your foot being pulled beneath you on the belt. Set the speed instead at 5.0 (the equivalent of a 12:00 road mile), so you can walk/jog for ten minutes or so until you begin to feel comfortable.
◦Don't hold onto the handrails once you've started running. Initially you may feel more comfortable if you lightly touch the handrails during your warm-up walk, but don't get into the habit of relying on the handrails for support.
◦Focus on the control panel until you feel comfortable enough to look up. Try to avoid looking down at your feet, it makes some people dizzy. Once you're feeling sure of your technique, begin looking up for a few seconds at a time, then back down again. Eventually you should be able to do your entire workout looking ahead, either watching a TV, looking in a mirror or watching other people. (Hint: avoid watching the feet of other people running on a treadmill as well. It can also make you dizzy.)
◦Don't swing your arms out to the sides. Running on the treadmill is a good way to work on your form. If you have a tendency to swing one or both arms out from the elbows when you run, once you've hit them against the handrails a few times, you'll soon learn to run with them closer in!
◦Stay in the center of the belt, don't let yourself drift too far to the left or right. Don't try to "push" against the belt, let yourself stay in the air while the belt runs out from underneath you.
You'll feel like you're running much faster than the per-mile pace you set on the control panel. That's a normal reaction, which will probably never go away, even when you become a treadmill aficionado.
Don't lean forward or too far up on your toes. Try to hit the belt slightly back of your mid-foot and roll forward onto the ball of your foot.

When you step off the treadmill, you'll feel a little off-balance for a few minutes. It's also a normal reaction. Use that time to stretch out and acclimate your body to being back on solid ground.


I'm Bored!

It can be boring running on a treadmill, but there are tricks you can play to make it interesting.

◦Listen to music on headphones or watch TV.
◦Hang pictures of runners you admire on the walls around your workout room and focus on them while you're running.
◦Do fartlek, or speed-play workouts. Once you've warmed up, vary the speed for short amounts of time. For example, increase the speed to a 9:00 minute-mile for three minutes, then drop it back to a 9:30 mile for two minutes, then increase it to a 8:50 mile for three minutes and so on.
◦Do hill workouts. Vary the elevation at regular intervals.
◦Watch yourself in a mirror so you can concentrate on your form.
◦Visualize yourself running in a race.

Important!

Because you run with less effort on a treadmill, you need to raise the elevation to at least one-percent. If you leave it at zero percent elevation, you'll be running slower than the mile-per-hour setting indicates because you don't have to overcome wind resistance on the treadmill. By raising the elevation, you'll more closely match the effort required to run at that speed over land.

Also, keep in mind that the pace per mile settings are not entirely accurate, neither are the mileage indicators. Base your workout on your heart rate or perceived exertion and estimate mileage by elapsed time.


Should I buy a Treadmill?

OK, now that I've got you thinking about the advantages of using a treadmill, you're probably wondering whether or not you should buy one. Buying a treadmill depends on several factors:

◦Will you use it? Running on a treadmill can be boring, some people never get used to using one. If you're not going to use it at least once a week, join a health club, YMCA or gym and run indoors there. Keep in mind however that during their busiest hours most workout facilities limit the time you can use cardiovascular equipment, usually to thirty minutes.
◦Can you afford it? A good treadmill is expensive; expect to pay several thousand dollars. On the other hand, it may end up being less expensive than a health club membership that you never use. After all, if the weather is so bad that you can't get to the health club, having your own treadmill will pay for itself over a few winter seasons.
◦Do you like to run alone? Running on a treadmill is a lonely endeavor. If you prefer running with a group, join a health club where so you'll have company on the exercise equipment.
◦Do you live in an area where there are few, if any hills? If you want to increase your strength and endurance, but you live where there aren't hills, a treadmill provides a training edge. On a treadmill you can run all the hills you want!
◦Are you a competitive runner? If you are, you may want to invest in a treadmill so you won't miss any training days if the weather stays nasty for several days in a row. You can also use a treadmill to practice racing, do speed-work and hill workouts (without having to run back down hill!)

What Should I Look For?

If you decide to buy your own treadmill, look for the following features.


◦The miles-per-hour setting should go up to 10.0, which is equivalent to a 6:00 minute mile. Even if you'll never run that fast, you still want a treadmill with a motor that's strong enough to handle that pace. If you're a competitive athlete you'll probably want a machine that you can set even faster.
◦The incline setting should go to ten percent.
◦The belt should be wide enough that when you're standing in the middle, you have at least two inches on either side. The belt should be a minimum of eighteen-inches.
◦The treadmill should feel sturdy. It shouldn't feel wobbly. The belt should move smoothly beneath your feet and you shouldn't feel any jerking or catching motion.
◦Health club quality machines are obviously the best, as they're designed to handle considerable wear and tear. They're also the most expensive, but in this case you do get what you pay for.
◦Don't buy a used treadmill from a retailer that specializes in used sporting goods equipment. It may be true that the machine was only used only twice, but if you don't know for sure, don't take the chance. Besides any guarantees and warranties usually don't transfer to a new owner.
For more information about treadmills, you may visit http://www.f1-recreation.com/.

-This article was adapted from http://www.fitfaq.com/-
For more information on the latest Cybex equipment, click here.

1 comments:

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