Monday, January 31, 2011

Don't Dread the Tread

There's one thing absolutely guaranteed about fitness: options.  One of my all-time favorite things about exercise is the almost limitless variety of healthy stuff to do in my city; if I am bored it is my own darn fault.  We have running clubs, boot camp, cross fit, spinning studios, full-service gyms, personal training studios, a rock climbing gym, our own triathlon and marathon, and miles of beautiful hiking and biking trails.  You have to really try hard to claim ignorance to convince anyone around here that you can't get any exercise.  I'm lucky!

So with all of the options around, sometimes I wonder why I keep ending up on a treadmill.  The answer is simple: I like it.  I work out on a treadmill at least twice a week and its more versatile than you think.  Here's a few things I do to get a great workout on a treadmill; if you hate them I'll give you your calories back.

1. Add Intervals!
I'll admit it - running for an hour on a treadmill is boring. I spice it up by doing intervals, and use a great podcast by Skip Orem, who runs the site  I like episode #138, the Reserve Request HIIT Running Workout for the Treadmill, but there are others as well including podcasts for walkers.  Skip tells you when to run, when to walk, and takes you from leisurely walk to omygodiamgonnapuke in literally 60 seconds. But don't worry, if you do puke, you can hit pause. Skip will wait.

2. Change Direction!
Every few minutes, add 30-60 seconds of  side shuffles or backwards walking to your treadmill workout. The most important thing to keep in mind here is safety - hang on to the side rails until you get your balance so you don't fall and get injured. Then you won't get to workout at all, which is pretty much the opposite of what we're trying to accomplish.  Check out this video for an example of the side-shuffle.  It's a great way to work different parts of your legs, increase your coordination, and work on overall balance. 

3. Mess with the Controls!
Running and walking uphill automatically makes your body work harder and burn more calories.  Plus its great for your butt, and shorts season is coming up so you might want to consider adding some hills to your workout!  Every minute or so, go all "diabolical robot takes over the command center" and mess with the controls on your treadmill.  Increase the incline, speed up the belt, and just wreak havoc on your central nervous system.  Not only will the time fly by, your body will get a great workout just trying to stay one step ahead of you. 

It gets a bad rap for being boring, but your treadmill doesn't have to be a dreadmill!  Stop being so mean to your treadmill and give it another chance!

Good day!


Erica Sara said...

I completely agree! While I love running outside, somedays I just can't make it happen. If I approach the treadmill with a positive attitude, I'm much more likely to enjoy my run on it.
To pass time, I usually create little games. For example, I'll warm up for 5 minutes at 5.5 mph. Then I'll increase .1 mph every 2-3 minutes. Keeps my mind going... and I love watching how many more calories I burn as I increase my speed :)

The (not so) Reluctant Athlete said...

Yes! Running burns calories...and running really fast torches them! :)