As much as we relish getting outdoors in the winter, sometimes the treadmill is the best option for the work at hand. We spoke to Nick Willis, Mary Cain and Rio Lakeshore to get their advice on making the most out of your time indoors.
Talk us through your favorite treadmill workout.
My favorite workout is the 5-mile progression run. The one thing that treadmill running has over land running is 100% control over the speed you run. I love slowly ratcheting up the pace every half mile. After an easy 3-mile warm-up, I set the speed on the treadmill at 5.15/mile pace, and slowly work my way down to 4.45/mile pace at the end.
What's your go-to indoor strength training move?
Theraband walks. These are some of the easiest indoor exercises to do and only require a small piece of equipment. They're a very underrated way of working on glute and hamstring strength.
How do you warm-up and cool-down for a treadmill workout?
I start my runs extremely slowly. I always run the first half mile at around 9 min/mile pace, and never really get into my proper run pace until I’m around 2 miles into the run. This allows my muscles and tendons to warm up before I put them through any stress.
It’s easy to forget to do your post-run drills and dynamic stretches after a treadmill run, but it’s important to keep your range of motion in your hips/hamstrings after long durations of running.
The treadmill can be boring, do you have any tricks to keep things entertaining?
Sometimes I like to mix up treadmill workouts with circuit training using dumbbells and bodyweight exercises between treadmill intervals.
Do you have a go-to treadmill workout?
Truthfully, I don’t have a special treadmill workout, but if I’m going to do a workout on the treadmill, I prefer tempos. It’s a great way to zone out and just hang on. It can be mentally tough, but I like the challenge.
I have done some stuff at as fast as 15 mph (no joke) and it’s a bit scary going fast…
Fun fact: my boyfriend LOVES treadmill workouts. He thinks it’s a great way to run fast after a long day of work. Means your mind doesn’t have to do the work in the same way… you can zone out with a show/music/podcast while your legs do the work.
What's your favorite indoor strength exercise?
My favorite indoor routine is yoga classes. Right now, I enjoy virtually tuning into classes and it’s nice that I can train at home. I love going to the gym and doing strength training, but yoga is definitely my favorite way to combine strength, stretching, and mindfulness.
Are there any pre-hab exercises you rely on indoors?
I love doing range of motion exercises before I go running. It’s crazy how much of a difference doing some hip and ankle exercises makes me instantly move better. Some examples are hip CARS, ankle CARS, couch stretch, and ankle push/pulls.
How do you embrace hitting the treadmill?
I honestly enjoy indoor runs! Sometimes, especially on bad weather days or days you need extra motivation, it’s fun to be able to watch a TV show on your phone while running. So if you have access to indoor equipment, remember to find all of the good sides to that and feel grateful you do have access since many people don’t.
Any tricks to keep it fun?
I think a lot of runners feel they need to be tough and go outside and can’t run with music/podcast/shows, but if it helps you get in the miles and have fun, then do it! So don’t ignore the power of listening to something great to motivate you. Sometimes for me, that’s a killer playlist and other times it’s zoning out and watching one of my favorite tv shows.
You recently had to quarantine due to Covid exposure in your family. How did you adapt to running entirely indoors in LA?
Coincidentally, my coach had already planned my training schedule to be a 'down week' with only 85 miles after weeks of doing 100-milers. Upon learning of our need to quarantine, coach decided to extend that to two weeks, coinciding with the CDC's 10-day quarantine guidelines.
How did you change your running program given the constraints of running from home?
I exchanged my two key weekly workouts for just one treadmill workout, and the other days I exchanged for active recovery runs. With the downtime, I embraced more low-intensity cross-training activities that generally get neglected due to time restraints like a kettlebell, my balance board, and stretches.
We saw you did a 20-miler from the treadmill. How was that experience for you?
An elite comrade in the running community called it 'Happiness within suffering.' I wasn't focused on how I was running the 20-miler; I was just elated at the fact that I was able to run at all. My coach could have asked me to do a full marathon on that treadmill, and without hesitation, I would have done it. Running is liberation to me, and as long as I can do it, it doesn’t matter where I’m confined to; I will make it happen. With full human capability, there is no limit. In the book 'The Story of Ted Corbitt,' a book that has become my bible, Ted Corbitt is quoted as saying, 'fitness can't be stored.' Ted maintained his fitness through consistently running and never looking back on past accolades and failures, our forward into the future. To me, this is the embodiment of running in the present. Yesterday already happened; tomorrow is not promised. So today, at this moment, I utilize this time, mind, able body, and space, not allowing setbacks or limitations to halt my level of fitness both mentally and physically.
Have you found any tricks or mental games that help with workouts on the treadmill?
Find an amazing audiobook. Put a post-it note with your favorite mantra in front of you. Cover up the control board on the treadmill, and format your watch to only show pace (so the miles you have left isn't so daunting.)
What lessons will you take from this unique training block?
Running continuously, regardless of the circumstances I may find myself in, shows me my capabilities. I am fortunate that despite being exposed to Covid, I can do what I love no matter how I achieve it.