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The Calm During The Storms

After putting the final edits to this article at the start of March, a lot has happened in just a few days! COVID-19 has changed the landscape of the whole of society, and the world of running as we know it. Multiple races cancelled and now we head into the first few days of social distancing. I also have friends in Spain who are on a total lock down, and they are unable to run outside, as a venture out could mean a 100 to 6,000 Euro fine. Therefore, the article below and the use of treadmills, may or might not be of extra help in this strange time!

Storms, Storms and more storms. February wasn’t a kind month. I feel for those who lost their homes and possessions, damaged by the wind and rain. For those local to myself in Rhondda Canyon Taff, it has had a big impact on everyday life and on runners. Many parks have been damaged and unpassable and parkruns cancelled. The Pontypridd parkrun has been hit hard and the Lido next door, a summer favourite to all those in the area. For health and mental resolve, it will be important when both the parkrun and Lido reopen.

The weather has made safe and effective training difficult, and certainly brought many challenges. To have access to a treadmill is an enormous help (as some of my sessions below show in the images!).

In the last few weeks, it’s been so beneficial having access to one and has got me thinking about the benefits and misconceptions of treadmill training.

Pro’s

Environment: No wind & rain. It is safe and secure. No need to worry about traffic, footing and dark streets. Plus, the ability to run all year round in vest and shorts (therefore, less washing too!)

Time: Having a young family, with busy lives, the treadmill offers the ability to train at anytime even without worrying about childcare.

Control: The treadmill allows the ability to pace any training session. This means recovery runs can be controlled and also set sessions at a certain race pace. It’s a great way for the body to vary speed, monitor heart rates and to track fitness… as a controlled environment and can be compared.

Binge watch: If you like Netflix then this could also be for you. You can watch while you run and distracting yourself from the pain!

Injury prevention: The treadmill belt has a nice amount of cushioning that will offset some of the impact. This may help, especially in the winter when you can be running on concrete roads and paths. If you can run in front of a treadmill, this is a great way of ironing out minor floors in running. technique.

Misconceptions

Mentally tough: Are long runs monotonous? You can break down sessions into blocks and efforts to help ‘trick’ your way through the session. Also, watch a film…monitor your stats…. watching your form/technique if have a mirror are all ways to combat this. Also they link with most training platforms like Strava and trainingpeaks, and some with the fast growing Swift applications.

Don’t get same benefits to outdoor running: Not in my experience, as have always used a 1% incline which many say makes it much more realistic. Plus on most treadmills another 20% incline if not hard enough!

Cost: The costs isn’t as high as you might expect for a quality machine. The Elite 8.0 I use is £879 down from £1059, and is super value, as everything you need and allows quality running. https://www.noble-pro.com/elite-e8-0-treadmill/

Social side: The treadmill doesn’t have the social side of a group run, but actually it a a social event in our household. The kids love watching myself or my wife run. They sit and do stretches next to us and help pick the music to play in the room.

Space: Not easy for everyone to fit a treadmill in a home, but many are easy to move around and locate where best for you.

Overall, there are many benefits with some misconceptions, but the great thing is that treadmills are a lot more accessible and durable now. They offer a safe and effective alternative to the outdoor world of running. But as technology keeps developing, the links to various platforms keeps increasing and even to a point that you can now start running with others, in virtual communities and locations. So watch this space for even more developments! Exciting stuff!!

Plus good luck if on a lock down or exercising ‘social-distancing’, be safe and run smart.

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James Thie
James Thie
Multiple World Indoor Championships and Commonwealth Games middle distance runner. Coaching the runners of the future.

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