Even since before the third lockdown closed gyms once again, many of us had adapted to taking our running routines outdoors. For others, the past year of the pandemic saw us taking up running for the first time; aiming for our first 5 or 10ks as something to do with our daily exercise.
From 12 April, gyms and other sports facilities across England will be opening their doors and indoor pools. For the runners of this world, that means being reunited with the beloved treadmill – whether it’s a dedicated and loving relationship or a simple part of a varied routine.
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As those who feel comfortable to do so head back to indoor workouts, some might be wondering how to make treadmill runs a bit more, well, interesting.
Maybe you’ve gotten so used to running outdoors that the thought of losing the scenery (or hills, if you’re so inclined) is unthinkable; maybe you’ve got a new fitness goal or just fancy a change of pace.
Whatever your aim, a treadmill still has its place in any routine – and it needn’t feel boring or repetitive. “Training on a treadmill has a lot of benefits, besides being able to do it in all weathers” says Alex Parren, PT, running coach and nutritionist for Meglio.
“Having the ability to precisely control the speed makes it perfectly suited to pre-determined sessions like intervals. You can write your session in advance with exact speeds and timings and know you’ll be able to stick to them without too much thought.”
3. Vary your whole weekly routine too
It’s a complete myth that you should be red in the face and aching from head to toe after every gym session. “In fact, 80% of your running should feel ‘easy,’ says Alex. “This means you should be able to comfortably hold a conversation. Although it may seem this isn’t the way to get fit, it really is.
So if you’re training six times a week, make sure four of those sessions are easy and only two leave you gasping for air and aching for days afterwards. This is the key to not getting injured and being able to train consistently which is the healthiest way to build your fitness and strength.”
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4. Give fartlek a go
Stop giggling at the back. What the heck is fartlek, you ask? This Swedish term, which literally translates as “speed play,” is a form of interval training whereby each interval is randomised so that your body doesn’t adapt and you make better fitness gains.
“Doing the same 30-second intervals over and over again can get boring and repetitive,” says Alex. “Not only for your mind but for your body too. By mixing things up with fartlek, you keep your body guessing and you won’t get bored either.”
Here’s an example for you to try: sprint hard for 45 seconds, then a walking recovery for 60 seconds, then a slow jog up a steep incline for 60 seconds, then a jogging recovery with no incline for 90 seconds, and so on.
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4. Enjoy yourself!
Could we say it any louder? “Exercise is supposed to make us feel invigorated and alive, not feel like a chore” says Alex. And we couldn’t agree more. If you don’t enjoy it, you’ll also be far more likely to quit and, like our experts said, consistency is key.
Luckily, there’ll be enough options around from 12 April for you to try some new things and find the routine that works for you.
If the treadmill is your staple and you want to make it a better place to be, don’t forget about your entertainment options too. Kerry recommends using treadmill time to try new podcasts and playlists.
“My own personal music playlists depends on my mood,” she says. “One day I might listen to a Beyoncé playlist to feel empowered, then a high-energy Hip Hop mix if I am doing a fast speed session and want to get in the zone. If I’m going on a long, easy-paced run, I like to listen to a podcast, as it feels like you have a friend having a conversation with you on your journey.”
Now you have everything you need, there’s one last important reminder: be sure to recover well, too. “Give your body adequate rest and recovery along with proper nutrition and hydration.” says Alex. “After or between each session, be sure to foam roll to boost blood flow and encourage speedy recovery. This will allow you to train more often without getting injured.”
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