Running is a beautiful way to get fit. It is so simple and so basic, and while it can be difficult at first, the rewards come quickly to those who persist.
Running is also one of the most efficient ways to burn calories. As a cardiovascular exercise, it reduces the risk of certain diseases, strengthens the heart and lungs, and boosts confidence and energy.
Many runners are so hooked that it is a real bummer when we get too busy or when bad weather moves in and we have to take a day or two off. That is when many runners turn to the treadmill, which can be used any time of day and during any season.
Here are a few points to consider when you begin your treadmill running regimen:
Why run on a treadmill?
Beyond the obvious benefit that you can run anytime, day or night, in any kind of weather, running on a treadmill can actually be safer than running outside.
Treadmills offer a smooth running surface that can be easier on your joints than running outside on the pavement, as long as you are exercising proper technique. On a treadmill, you do not need to worry about twisting an ankle on an uneven trail. You also do not need to worry about encountering strange people, dogs, or wild animals.
Treadmills also make it easy to determine your pace and incline. It is fun to measure your fitness via statistics, which are clearly calculated and displayed on a treadmill throughout your workout. By using a treadmill, you will know how it feels to run a certain pace and incline, and you can begin to challenge yourself a little bit at a time by making gradual adjustments.
Part of what I love about running is getting out into the sunshine and the fresh air, so the treadmill will never totally replace my outdoor running regimen, but there are plenty of days (particularly in my climate zone) when it is the best alternative.
How can I maximize calorie burn on a treadmill?
The secret to a great workout on a treadmill lies in your ability to vary your intensity.
By using either preset running programs on the treadmill, or by manually adjusting the incline and speed, you can challenge yourself with an interval workout, which is a fantastic way to help you progress to new and better levels of fitness.
To begin an interval workout, make sure to warm up for a half mile or so. Then set the treadmill on a speed lower than you are accustomed to running. Alternate a faster speed with that slower speed for specific time intervals, ranging from one to five minutes. If you are a beginner, aim for five intervals, gradually increasing the number of intervals, as well as the top speed, as you progress.
You can also vary the incline. Try alternating workouts, focusing on speed one day and incline the next.
What if I get bored?
The number one reason people stop using a treadmill is plain and simple boredom.
To combat boredom during your workout, use headphones and download music from the internet. Choose songs that motivate you, and set a predetermined number of songs to run through. That will keep you from continually checking the numbers on the display to see how much longer or farther you still have to go.
If you are working out at home, record your favorite TV shows during the week and catch up on them during your workout. Just make sure these distractions do not pull you away from proper technique and the focus you need to complete a great workout.
If you are at the gym, find a workout partner. The competition, camaraderie, and accountability that come from working out with someone can be motivating enough to help alleviate those feelings of boredom.
When you are first starting to run on a treadmill, it is a good idea to try out the machines at your local health club before purchasing one for home use. High quality treadmills are expensive, so you want to get a good sense for the features that you will need.
Treadmills make it so the runner in you never has to sit out a season. Enjoy your run!