8 Workouts to Keep You Going
If you are like me, no form of exercise feels as enjoyable or as fulfilling as running outdoors. I love the change of seasons for the pleasure of cooler temperatures and winter skiing. Unfortunately, that same change of seasons can keep me from getting in my weekly mileage if the weather turns nasty. Don’t let the cold winter months keep you from properly preparing for an early spring race. With these eight winter treadmill workouts, you can stay off the icy roads, feel satisfied with your workouts, and continue to meet all your fitness goals.
For maximum cardiovascular benefits, try an interval workout. Start with a 10-minute warm-up period, then progress into a pyramid of intervals (i.e. 2-4-6-4-2 minutes) at 5K race pace. Allow 2-minutes of complete rest or active recovery between each faster segment.
It can be easy to lose focus on stride efficiency with a treadmill doing some of the work for you. To help maintain a quick turnover, try counting your steps for 1-minute at a 5K or 10K tempo pace. Rest for 1-2 minutes, then repeat. Try to maintain or increase the number of strides you take in the 1-minute period (aim for 180 steps per minute). Fight the urge for the treadmill to take over the workout.
Still focusing on your stride, warm up easy for 10-minutes, then break up your workout with a total of 6-10 repetitions of 30-second ”bursts.” While maintaining a proper foot strike, alternate between longer and shorter strides to work different sets of muscles. This variation in stride length will help simulate more of the feeling of running on the roads or trails. It will also contribute to improving flexibility and strength.
The winter months frequently mean a switch to strength training or recovery from a long season of training and racing. Instead of losing cardiovascular gains, try mixing your strength and aerobic training together. Walk or run at a comfortable pace for 5-minutes on the treadmill. Then step off the treadmill and complete 30-60-seconds of exercises such as sit-ups, push-ups, lunges, burpees, or jumping jacks. The time on the treadmill should be recovery from the strength exercise that you complete. Switching between training stimuli will keep your heart rate up and allow your muscles to feel like they are not constantly pounding away.
Many treadmills today have preset workouts that vary the speed and incline automatically for you. Remember no road or trail is entirely flat, so a flat treadmill is far from ideal. Have fun exploring these workouts and challenge yourself to complete the most difficult workout the treadmill can throw at you before the end of the winter. As you progress, visualize yourself taking down your next hill-infested race or cruising into the finish line of a 5K faster than ever before!
Facing forward on the treadmill is not the only way it can use it. Walking backward and sideways can help improve strength, balance, and flexibility. Try adding some short segments of one or the other into your warm-up or cool-down period. Set the speed very slow at first and use caution, as it will feel very uncomfortable. With practice, you may be able to add a slight incline to gain more strength benefits.
If you live in a multi-story house or attend a multi-level gym, then take some breaks from running on the treadmill to walk up and down the stairs. Start out with a 30-minute workout and alternate 5-minutes on the treadmill with 5-minutes of stair-walking. The change in speeds will increase your cardio and give your quadriceps and hamstrings that additional burn like when you’re coming into the finish line of a long race! Alternatively, if your gym does not have stairs, find the nearest StairMaster, and complete the same workout.
Our last great winter treadmill workout combines both aerobic training and mobility. Mobility impacts your stride length, running posture, turnover, and risk of injury. Since you might not be so focused on always running hard during the winter, it may be a good time to improve your mobility. First, complete a warm-up for 10-minutes on the treadmill. Then step off to complete 5-10 minutes of drills such as high knees, lunges in all directions, hip openers, butt kicks, etc. You could easily alternate this workout like number four above, substituting strength exercises for drills.
The dark, cold hours of winter combined with the treadmill can be a daunting challenge for many avid outdoor runners, so we hope these winter treadmill workouts will help keep you motivated till spring. Occasionally, bundle up in warm clothes and brave the bitter cold for a run. The winter months can be full of beautiful sights and a variety of wildlife that you do not usually see. Getting out once in a while will remind you of how much you love to run and prevent cabin fever.
Feel free to comment below with your favorite ways to make use of the treadmill during the winter.