One of the unbeatable advantages of treadmill training over road-running is the ability to control all the parameters of the workout, and to craft a workout for a specific purpose. If you live near the race course you intend to conquer, and daily traffic patterns don’t interfere with running it, and if the weather is obliging, then of course you can train on the course itself. But for many runners training for a race, those factors don’t all fall into place as conducive for onsite training, in which case, the treadmill is the perfect tool.
Simulate the Course on Your Treadmill
Some treadmills come with pre-set programs for various popular races, but if yours doesn’t, take another tack. If you have the opportunity to take measurements of distance and incline along the course–or if those measurements are available for a given course–you can program a specific workout on the treadmill that simulates the course itself. Having set up your own race course, accessible any time of day and in any weather, you can work to improve your time on that course, and given the controlled environment of the treadmill, you’ll be able precisely to measure your progress.
In addition to the physical training, regular training on a simulated course gives you a mental edge as well. When you’re approaching big hill during the race, you can remind yourself you’ve been conquering that hill every day. And on race day, you’ll probably have more enjoyable scenery to boot.
Intersperse Race Course Practice with Other Drills
As you prepare for race day, regular runs at your simulated racecourse will increase your confidence and decrease your timing. However, the addition of auxiliary drills will help you to keep pushing your body past any plateau it may be settling into if you merely repeat the same workout on a daily basis. Strange as it may seem, it’s not to your benefit to let your body get too comfortable with its race course practice when you could be pushing it to develop further.
Adding High Intensity Interval Training into the mix stimulates the fast-twitch muscle cells designed for quick bursts of power, as opposed to the slow-twitch muscles designed for endurance, which are the muscles you’re primarily exercising with the practice on the course itself. If you add a power component to your training, you’ll build up the capacity of your fast-twitch muscles to kick into high gear for bursts of speed on top of your endurance over the distance. Whether you put your power bursts to use to pass up a competitor or kick up into high gear for that sprint to the finish at the end of the race, you’ll be glad you’ve developed a second “gear” for your racing body.
Whatever workout plan you undertake as you train for your race, the treadmill can be the ace up your sleeve, enabling you to customize your training, measure your progress, and continue to push yourself rather than plateau.